It’s time to stop asking for permission
The reality that we are terribly flawed humans is a truth most people (regardless of gender or background) are faced with. I am terribly flawed. Likely, so are you.
I have shown bias. I have considered my worth both above and below that of another person. I have reflected on my younger self and shaken my fist at that silly woman so many times my arms are tired.
I have lost so much time waiting. I’ve waited. And waited. And waited. I’ve waited for permission. I’ve waited for opportunities. I’ve waited to be invited to the party because I was afraid to go in alone.
More important than me being self-aware enough to see these flaws is the fact that I am working on fixing them. I am attempting to learn everyday. I am doing instead of waiting. I’m even throwing myself headfirst into my own bias so I can try to end them.
I’m trying to become that Gnarly, Passionate, Crazy, Talented person I want people to speak of at my funeral. I am a work in progress.
I seek to evolve and do the best I can with the tools and knowledge that I have today. That means that yesterday might not have been as good as tomorrow could be. It also means that the future can be better still because I am on a continuous improvement path for myself. I’m working at getting gnarly and I am not completely alone.
Critical to who I am and who I seek to become is the fact that I haven’t gotten here by myself. I’ve had help. I regularly speak of how women should become mentors. I shout about how we all need to become feminists and seek equal treatment, but this is not the way I have experienced life.
Questing for growth
In my professional career most of the opportunities I have have been given have come from men.
Until recently I hadn’t been exposed to many women who weren’t considering me the competition.
Many of these ladies were willing to crush/sabotage/step on-over me to help themselves. I get it. Put your own gas mask on first… They chose to close the door rather than invite me into the room. I admit that I have been guilty of this as well.
Contrarily, men have hired me, promoted me, given me chances, and offered me feedback that has supported my growth. Not every man has been of this calibre, but there are many men who have taught me great lessons in kindness and feminism along the way.
Likely this is a numbers game. There are more men in the top percentage of roles which means that the odds of having a male boss are higher. If I had said no to them because I was waiting for a woman to offer me the same chances I could possibly still be standing in front of that cash register a woman hired me to work at decades ago.
If I were to have refused the support and coaching of men I would have been left with very few opportunities.
When I walk into a room filled just with men, I no longer consider it an attack on the capability of women. I don’t consider it bias. I don’t even bitch about the patriarchy. Instead I acknowledge that someone invited me in, and that opportunity is a gateway to a more balanced representation. With that invitation comes a responsibility to bring more talent into that room to work alongside all of us.
Each attempt moves us forward
As we seek to reduce gender bias, we need to understand that as women men are not the enemy of feminism. Many are champions of the cause.
Over the space of my lifetime the world has started to change. I am inspired everyday by people of all gender affiliations in my network.
They present ideas of support, cheerleading, and educating one another as ways to eliminate bias, but the thing that I see so often is that they are doing one very specific thing which is the secret to success.
They are trying.
Try and fail, but don’t fail to try-Stephen Kaggwa
They are not always successful, but they try. This is critical to changing norms. Showing up and attempting to become that fantastic gnarly version of their badass selves is the thing that HAS to happen. By changing the stories we hear we can change the world we live in.
Technology forces us to be humble
Technology (both hardware and software) changes so fast that those who stop learning get left behind. This is the perfect reason for all of us to commit to a lifetime of learning. We can’t just puff up our chests and be all knowing anymore because as fast as we learn something new gets created.
I commonly see both women and men lamenting how they aren’t being given chances to showcase their talents. Really? in 2017 there are thousands of ways to display your awesome self and I am sick and tired of hearing that we need to be asked to the dance like the world is still a 50’s sock hop.
Want to write code? Write some freaking code fool! You don’t need to be hired as a developer to write code. You need that nice little brain you were born with, some time, a keyboard, and an internet connection. And….GO!
Want to do sport? Train. Practice. Show up. TRY out. Want to take it to the boardroom? Create your own company. BE the CEO of Awesome. Want an opportunity to show someone your talent? Show them! If you are a writer, write, a singer, sing, a teacher, teach.
The internet is a tool that you can use to spread your gifts across the planet
When all else fails, and you aren’t ready to just do, find someone cool and ASK for the opportunity. True, you might not get it, but if you didn’t die you have a second (and third and fourth…..) chance.
Risks are scary and they take bravery. Don’t have enough bravery? Borrow some of mine.
Sometimes you will fail. Most of the time you will be covered in a cloak of fear. Depending on the types of risks you take you may break bones or bruise your ego. No matter the outcome, I promise you will learn something. Your second attempt will enable you to use the lessons taught by hindsight to increase the odds of your eventual success.
Stop waiting for someone to offer you a chance and become an advocate for yourself. Once you get up a level become someone else’s advocate and pay it forward. The only way to get gnarly is to start.