A few days ago, a colleague and I were discussing what holds women back in business.
We talked about how, when you assemble a group of men and women and give them a completely new project, the men are often quicker to raise their hand and volunteer whilst women may be grappling with an internal question such as ‘Can I’?
And even when they are almost sure they can do it, the answer is often ‘I can’t!’
By the time they’ve decided that it may not be too risky to step out of their comfort zone and worth putting themselves forward, the opportunity may well have passed them by.
Many men on the other hand are known to take something on first and then think through their competencies and the practicalities later.
As we were discussing this, I suddenly had to laugh! We were sitting in a hotel lounge at the time and about 20 feet away from us a man, deep in conversation with his colleagues was actually raising his hand, as if to illustrate my point!
When thinking about your own willingness to raise your hand and step out of your comfort zone – do you find it easy or difficult?
To be fair, in a mixed work environment we may have to work a little harder to raise our head above the parapet, but we can waste a lot of time waiting to be invited to do so, which may essentially keep us invisible.
Although playing safe can keep you ticking over, by waiting for the right time – for the moment when you think everything is in place – you may be playing small when you could be playing big, and opportunities for personal development and business progress may pass you by.
When I launched my training company in the 90s, it didn’t really get going until I stepped up to take on a project for a company that wasn’t happy with one of my biggest competitors at the time.
I can remember thinking that whilst I was up to the job, I wasn’t quite ‘ready’ in other ways, for example, I didn’t have the same resources as my much larger competitor.
But I said yes anyway, devised a quick plan, renegotiated the terms (which was quite easy as I was much cheaper) and started recruiting trainers (putting the resources in place) before I had the security of knowing exactly how many courses I would be running.
This first experience of putting myself forward was brave of me at the time, and could be considered as risky by some. But knowing that in reality I had little to lose and lots to gain, I set the wheels in motion for a very successful business which made me raise my hand more than once (practice makes perfect!) and helped to turn me into the ‘enterprising’ entrepreneur I am today.
“If you don’t go after what you want you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward you are always in the same place.”
Such a great quote by a woman called Nora Roberts.
So if you want to stand out from the crowd in business and grow personally and professionally then just consider this: If there is one thing you need to do, to raise your hand and step out of your comfort zone, what is it?
Ute Wieczorek-King is a Success Coach, Trainer, Mentor, Founder of the Inner Circle Business Clubs & Owner of Success Network.
Copyright 2012, Ute Wieczorek-King