You’ve watched others get promoted over you time and time again. Despite the fact that you have been there the longest, have the most education and produce the greatest results it seems like no matter what you do the people who make the big decisions simply can’t see your value.
Never fear, strong woman, there is hope and it comes in the form of a new and improved you that is already in you she just needs to be shaken awake.
1. Find your “thing”
If you don’t keep your gifts top of mind, no one else will either.
One of the biggest problems strong women face is a lack of clarity around their strengths in the workplace. Even if you’ve done a strengths finder or Kolbe test kind of thing you may not really know how your results appy to you specifically or what to do with that information.
The “All About Me Coffee Date” Exercise in the home study course, Conscious Transitions is a great tool to use.
My clients have great success with this “Common Thread” exercise as well
Use a fresh batch of sticky notes. Write out everything you’ve ever loved about anything you’ve ever done.
- Work history,
- volunteer efforts,
- personal experiences
- …include everything.
You’ll end up with a myriad of phrases:
- “helping people with communication problems,”
- “organizing events,”
- “seeing the details others don’t,”
- “introducing good people to each other,”
- “making something out of nothing,”
- “listening to new ideas,”
- “buying office supplies,”
- “seeing a mess get organized.”
Don’t worry about redundancy, word choice or even spelling for that matter. The point is to tap into the parts of you that light up during the day and shape those experiences with words.
—-Minimum of 20 notes. NO MAXIMUM… use 10 stacks of notes if you need to.—-
- Separate them into 3 categories of your choosing: for example, financially rewarding, personally rewarding, professionally rewarding
- Pick 3 new categories and separate them again: perhaps, excel, needs work,
- Do it again: Maybe … doing currently, haven’t done in awhile, OMG when did I stop doing this thing I loved
—Minimum of 3 times. No maximum. The more you do this the more clear the results will be. Feel free to add post its as new passions occur to you.—
You’ll notice certain characteristics have a stronger pull and get placed immediately. Others will have a “not quite right” feel that means you’ve intellectualized it over the years, telling yourself you loved it when, really, you just got good at it.
The areas that get you excited, curious and playful are the signals that point you to your “Common Thread.”
That “Common Thread” in your experiences points you to your passion.
Your passion points you to your purpose.
Even if you think you already know your “thing” I encourage you to try this exercise. The insights gained are the most critical step to reinventing yourself at work.
2. Understand Passion As A Process, Not An Epiphany
If you’re like most strong women you probably have the impression that your life’s passion is something that either has, or should, just come over you. You envision suddenly being awash in an awareness about your unique place in this world, instantly imbued with all of the energy you need to begin your Odyssey into purposeful living. For most people this is not the case.
We all have a tendency to dismiss or even ignore our innate gifts. That means most of us have our passion, and by extension our purpose, revealed to us through a drawn out process called “life.”
If we stay in our “head-down, just get through” survival mode as our default we’ll never even notice, let alone live in accordance with, our unique reason for being on this planet.
Once you find your Common Thread start looking for proof of it everywhere.
- Notice when you light up inside.
- Do more of what fuels you.
- Specifically re-engage in long-forgotten activities that need your attention.
- Seek education and opportunities outside of work to help you hone the skills required to heighten your expertise in these areas.
Get off of your default and start living consciously. Your passion and, by extension, your purpose will reveal itself to you. From that point forward it’s up to YOU…not your job, not your relationships…it’s up to YOU to fan the spark into a flame.
3. Frame your conversations with that realization
Reinventing yourself at work is useless without your conscious communication with others. That’s why this is the actionable step you need for that promotion.
People already have a belief about you based on whatever they see as past “evidence.” Confirmation bias, the tendency to cherry pick “proof” that confirms established beliefs and dismiss the rest, means your coworkers and superiors cannot help but see you the way they’ve always seen you, regardless of how much you grow. This is a surmountable obstacle, however.
If you want to rise through the ranks you’re not just reinventing yourself at work, you’re reinventing how you’re perceived by others as well. The secret lies in repetition.
Find and take advantage of the contexts where you can put your new self-understanding into words.
- “I’ve found I excel at…,”
- “I really love it when I can…,”
- “I’m so excited by the results of my…”
- “My results ____ prove that I can ____…”
When you shape your understanding with words you not only deepen understanding yourself, you also plant the seeds in others’ minds to begin to see you the same way. Repeat yourself in various phrasing and contexts and you’re on your way to perfectly matched opportunities.
4. Work with the end in mind.
Now that you see yourself differently make sure the promotion you’re after is really, really what you want. Then, reverse engineer your efforts toward that goal.
For instance, if it’s a Project Management position you might create the path this way:
- Frame all of your past experience through the lens of project management, compliance, team building and effective communication between teams. The fact that you want the position means it shares characteristics with past skills. Examine your past projects with a fine toothed comb.
- Embrace similar aspects in your current workload. Delegate the rest. From this point forward be PM focused and committed to excellence in those areas. Everything else requires a solution that doesn’t require you.
- Seek out work that supports the path to the position you want. Since others don’t see you as a PM yet so you won’t be top of mind for those projects. The onus on you is to team up with people who are getting the projects you want and ask for more responsibility in that vein.
5. Learn the art of self-promotion (without being gross).
One of the biggest mistakes I see in the strong women I coach is the belief that if they just work hard enough their work will speak for itself and their results will be rewarded.
Unfortunately this simply is not how it works.
In the workplace melee people are in the habit of looking for their own successes. They’re not looking for others’ wins. Additionally, they only tune into your triumphs when they feel you’re competition.
You face an additional obstacle in their inherent negativity bias. In fact, they’re unintentionally tuned into others mainly when there is a problem due to their negativity bias. This means that regardless of your incredible results in the workplace their memories of you are limited to the times they’ve needed you to correct mistakes or needed follow up. Which means they may actually have an inaccurate impression of you and your work.
That’s why you must, must, MUST be skilled at celebrating, repeating and building on your wins. NOT bragging … in fact humility will be the thing that keeps you learning and growing. Own your mistakes and count your lessons from them as part of your success.
6. Stay Open
After all of your efforts reinventing yourself at work you may find your current department or company doesn’t have the opportunities your soul craves.
Continue the conversations from Step 3 outside of work, wherever you hang out. Start asking about opportunities elsewhere. Let people know what gets you jazzed and they’ll get jazzed for you. You’ll be surprised at how many people are as thrilled to help you based on your enthusiasm … even more so than your skills.
Be available to big change. If you aren’t … big change will come anyway, you just won’t be ready for it.
Welcome to the new you!! Now stay the course…sustainable, passionate success is a long game.
Reinventing yourself at work, especially with a promotion in mind, is a bit of a long game. but the payoff is worth it. Return to these strategies repeatedly and you’ll find that each step gets easier. You’ll also find that others are much more responsive to you as the go-to-gal for the areas you love. Before you know it, your vertical climb will be second nature and everyone else will be asking your secret!