There are two big reasons why I do what I do: 1) I believe every person deserves to have a life they love. 2) We need more women’s voices in the world. And not the cookie cutter voices – your true, authentic voice. You know what gets in the way of both of these? Putting constant pressure on ourselves to succeed. Imposter syndrome and doubting our brilliance. Running around like a chicken with your head cut off, completely exhausted and overwhelmed. Holding ourselves to ridiculously high standards and expectations of perfection.
I know this because I see it in my clients, I saw it in the women in my leadership development programs when I worked in corporate – and I experienced it myself. An overachiever since birth, I drove myself hard to always succeed no matter what. I worked way too many nights and weekends, was always the first to volunteer for yet another project, and even suffered from shingles when I was just 30.
But it was more than just working hard. I realized I was putting so much effort into school and my business because I felt like I was behind in other areas of my life. It started with being overweight in high school. I was never going to be one of the cute, petite girls that boys liked, so instead I put all my energy on the areas I could be successful. I was at the top of my class, National Honor Society president, captain of two sports, worked at my churched and volunteered.
The proving continued right through my corporate jobs and really amped up when I started my business. By this point I had lost the weight, but now I had other areas where I was behind – I wasn’t married or a mother, two things that I always thought would be a part of my life. I felt like I better be successful in my business, because if I fail here and I’m not married and I don’t have any kids, then what am I worth?
The pressure I was putting on myself to succeed was actually holding me back from my true potential – in life and in my business. I knew I wanted to change.
I worked on changing her beliefs. My new mantra became, “You are worthy for who you are, not what you do.” I let go of feeling like everything had to be successful the first time around, and adopted a mindset of progress over perfection. I practiced quieting the inner critic that always told me I always had to be working and proving and started trusting my true inner voice. I even discovered I had an artistic side and started painting for the first time in my adult life (after being terrified of art for decades!).
As I let go of expectations and overcompensating, both my life and my business improved. I started sharing what I learned with others – and they got results too. Coaching clients told me they had given themselves permission to slow down and ask themselves what they really wanted – and actually do what they desired. Audience members in my speaking engagements grew their careers while working less because they focused on impact and doing the important work instead of rushing and proving. They started to say no. They walked into meetings and spoke their true mind instead of automatically accommodating. They got out of their own way and stood in their strengths. They were changing the world, one step at a time.
You get to create your own rules for life. It’s time to slow down and listen to your true voice. It can change the world.
Heather has a master’s degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota. Prior to starting her business she worked for 10 years in human resources at Cargill and Ameriprise, where she led numerous leadership development programs for high-performing women. She is also a graduate of 100+ hours of executive coaching training from the Coaches Training Institute, certified in Myers-Briggs, and a facilitator for The BWC (Business Women’s Circles). Her work with imposter syndrome was recently featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She has extensive global experience, including living and working in Australia and Latin America.
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