Comedian Owen Benjamin hit this right on the head. Hilarious, and oh, so true:
I had an experience last week that completely confirmed Mr. Benjamin’s theory of women.
The scene: A Women’s Business Conference
Overheard by my assistant (direct-ish quote): Oh, I don’t like that Kim Flynn lady. I shared a stage with her a few months ago, and she sold a bunch of retreats. Everyone bought her stuff so by the time I spoke they had already purchased. They didn’t buy anything from me. The only reason people bought from her anyway is because of her bonuses she was giving away.
All of these years I have been blaming myself. I have stewed over this, read books about this, journaled about this: I figured I have been in the wrong–that my bold personality is going around hurting people’s feelings unintentionally, and although I didn’t mean to, I hurt people. Constantly.
That overheard conversation was such a GIFT to me! I have absolutely no other way I could have possibly hurt this woman–she simply didn’t like me because I was successful, and specifically, more successful than her.
So what am I feeling? First, RELIEF. Relief to know that the experiences of women turning on me in the past have been about their stuff and not about me. And secondly, and more importantly, SADNESS. How are we supposed to progress as a gender while we are holding each other back?
I don’t think this (or any social problem) exists in other people but not in myself. I can’t change my speaker friend, or anyone else. All I can do is watch for the trend in myself, and by my behavior and words, model women supporting other women! So here is what I am committed to in my own life:
#1 Recognize jealousy when I feel it. Do I get jealous? Sure, all of the time. When I am having hard feelings for someone, be honest enough with myself to say–this is my junk and has nothing to do with someone else’s success.
#2 Have a conversation with that person in my car, out loud. This actually works. I work through many-a-tough feelings in my car, simply by having conversations with them. The out loud part really helps. I tell them everything I am feeling, and imagine them telling their side of the story. Often I am able to see their side of the situation.
#3 Actively look for successful women to model. When I meet someone that is seeing awesome success, especially women, I will look for ways to align myself with their trajectory. Study them to see what they are doing. Align with them instead of competing with them.
While I don’t believe that it is only women holding women back (men, ya’ll are members of that big thing called society as well), I do think we can do better as women. So here is your challenge to face this fear, head on. I am doing this challenge today and would love to hear your thoughts on taking it on!
Reach out to a woman who you have previously been intimidated with, or a little bit jealous of, and tell them how impressed you are with their success. Who is with me?