Who’s Really in Your Way?

I was having lunch with a friend and she was venting about what a lousy week she was having. She had just heard the news she was passed over for a promotion that had been given to a much younger, “prettier” woman who had been with the company 2 years less than her. This was devastating news, for my friend, as she thought, for sure, she was a shoo-in for the promotion. She went on for 45 minutes about how hard she worked leading up to the announcement and how “that” woman doesn’t know what she’s doing! “It’s so obvious she only got the promotion because she’s always flirting with our boss! I give her 6 months before she’s out!” She went on to say “If it weren’t for men, woman would rule the world.”

Being the good friend that I am and knowing this wasn’t the right time to enlighten my friend, I gave her my best ra-ra, you can do it, cheer up, you’ll get’em next time speech and told her to call me if she needed anything. I went back to work. My friend really said something that just didn’t sit well with me. She didn’t realize it, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. “If it weren’t for men, women would rule the world.” I started thinking of the different people I have worked with over the years, the various customers I have helped achieve their goals, even the targeted jobs that my female vs male customers are always asking for help achieving. I couldn’t get over it and then it hit me. Get ready, because you’re about to see it, in writing, from a woman! The truth is, my friend was partially right, but reality is, if it weren’t for women, women would rule the world! That’s right….I said it!

My friend had called out, from work, at least twice that I knew of in the last month just because. It wasn’t uncommon for her to go to work in rather tight, short, unprofessional clothing. She was always complaining about other women in the office. During lunch, I didn’t think that’s what she wanted to hear, but maybe that’s the problem. We, as women, need to hear the truth!

Ready for another truth? Only 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are run by a woman. In case you didn’t do the math, that’s 5 percent! Come on ladies, we can do better than that! And it gets worse, Pew Research Center polled men and woman asking which gender they thought made better leaders. A whopping 80% said they think both are equally qualified to be leaders. So what’s the problem? Why only 5%?

The problem… is other Women! That’s the problem! Now before you get upset, I’ll warn you that I’m about to make some pretty general statements. But ultimately, I believe that women stand in each other’s way more than men. Be honest, when’s the last time you heard a man judge a coworker based on his outfit? Or accuse him of sleeping his way to the top of the corporate ladder? The answer… not to often. What about a woman? Probably within the week. Now, I’m not saying men aren’t competitive. I’ve been to my share of football games. But men have a very different outlook when it comes to their careers.

Statistically, men are more goal oriented than women. Men are more likely to create a structured career goal strategy and stick to it. Men are more likely to start their careers in lower level positions and work their way up to senior or executive level status. This is the “traditional” path to success. In addition, men are less likely to take it personal when they don’t get the “big promotion.” They take it on the chin and get back to their grind hoping the next one has their name on it.

Women on the other hand are more reward oriented. We see a task, tackle it and expect immediate praise. If and when praise isn’t given, we take it personally. If another woman is praised for doing the same thing, we immediately try to figure out what she did right and what we did/didn’t do. One of two things tends to happen at this point. One, we start to doubt ourselves, or two, we start to criticize the other woman.

When we start to doubt ourselves, we’re getting in the way of our own success. Women accept failure very differently than men. Men often have the ability to quickly move on to the next task, sometimes as if they didn’t even fail, while women want to know and understand what they did wrong so they can ”fix it.” The problem with this is women become so focused on fixing the problem that may or may not have been there in the first place, that we’re leaving the road open for someone else to come in and take control of the next task or assignment. Women can be their own worst enemy when they start to doubt themselves.

If you go the other route and start criticizing the other woman, you may lose an opportunity to look at the situation for what it is. An opportunity to actually learn and grow. Honestly, men don’t care if their male colleagues start coming to work in skinny jeans or a cape and leotard. They care that this person is able to do their job and not interfere with their own tasks. It’s that simple. If women could accept that not everything is fair and that sometimes, no matter how hard you worked, or how much you deserve it, you still may not get that promotion. We’d be unstoppable! Men take the opportunity to turn the situation into a positive. Women take the opportunity to spend 45 minutes complaining to another woman about “that woman…”

So my career advice is simple. Work hard, always do the right thing, help your fellow men and woman to achieve their goals as you work to achieve yours, and eventually, you’ll be where you want to be. What you give out you’ll get back. It’s the law of reciprocity.

Understand it will take an extraordinary amount of hard work and effort that hopefully will allow you to gain invaluable experience and knowledge and never allow another person, including yourself to stand in the way of achieving your goals.

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