When you were younger and you were asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” did you ever think to respond by saying “I want to be powerful”? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. From a young age we’re societally conditioned to assign value to anything other than ourselves. Hence most of us respond(ed) to that question something to the effect of “a doctor” or “a pilot” or maybe “a hairdresser”.
Further, as we approach the end of our schooling years many of us are probed with the question of “what will you study when you finish school?”. To which many of us respond with the name of some formally recognised accreditation that we’ve recited after much research or maybe even a game of lucky dip. Again, this is evidence of social conditioning to prioritise the assignment of our value to something other than ourselves.
I think this is a growing challenge that has the capability to significantly cripple our individual growth, contributions to the world and, ultimately, fulfillment.
I don’t think it is wrong to aspire to study at college or university to obtain a formal accreditation and nor do I think it is wrong to aspire to assume a standardised title that comes with a job. Instead, I think it would be naive of us to discredit the potential of wanting to develop and characteristically emulate a particular adjective that ultimately can underpin everything and anything we choose to apply ourselves to, such as an accreditation or a standardised job title.
Established structures and systems such as formal routes of education to attain accreditations and compliance with standardised job titles within corporate hierarchy are extremely valuable to society and the economy at large. Such structures and systems play a particular role in supporting coordination and organisation for human and capital allocations across the globe, but they also enforce confined ways of thinking with respect to potential.
As women entrepreneurs working to build big, global and sustainable businesses I believe it can only serve us, personally and professionally, to relentlessly commit to becoming powerful and elevating how powerful we are thereafter. When we are powerful we have the ability to change or influence an outcome.
When you’re building and growing a great business, or even only considering the idea of doing so, your ability to exert powerfulness plays a critical role in your ability to realise your goals. No matter how big or small the change may be, it is change nonetheless.
The change you need to influence for your business to have an equitable chance at succeeding could be as simple as getting customers to quit using a competitor and start using your solution. Alternatively, the change you need to influence could be as challenging as getting new legislation passed to make your solution legally permissible.
In any case, you as the ambitious and passionate female entrepreneur, need to be able to change or influence an outcome.
When we’re thinking about starting a business or we’re trying to grow an existing business, we can’t lose sight of continuously asking, before we ask anything else, ourselves “how can I become more powerful in this situation?”. And yes, of course, it sounds absolutely bizarre and feels completely uncomfortable! Maybe it even feels a little arrogant or egotistical or self centred. But it is not (unless your entire business motive is).
Think about it this way - you are or have developed a solution that is a fair and unique value add for a particular audience. You want that particular audience, that you thought of when you came up with the solution, to realise the benefits of your solution. In order for that audience, that underpins the purpose of your business, to realise the benefits of your solution they need to be aware that it is possible and then believe that your solution can deliver what you claim it can.
And there we have it… the need to influence an outcome. And as you likely understand, this need will remain a going concern so long as your business does.
So what is the purpose of this conversation?
To shed light on a macro mindset challenge that is inflicted upon us from the age we start to understand the concept of ‘the future’ in combination with ‘I can choose to apply myself’. But more importantly, to empower women entrepreneurs to evolve their thinking to elevate their capability to drive positive outcomes, personally and professionally.
In every situation always ask yourself how you can become more powerful, whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, an entrepreneur or a business coach. Never let the discomfort of this question stop you from asking it. And share this with someone you know who deserves to know that they can become more powerful no matter what they’re working through.
Sally A Illingworth