Why Women Don’t Step Into The Limelight (and how they can!)

This post first appeared on Advancing Women

Do you wonder why women don’t get out there and promote their achievements more?

Do you wonder why there are so many books about how women can be more  confident?

Do you wonder why women keep their accomplishments to themselves and as a result, play small?

Often its because they are weary of being punished for playing big. Often they are worried about the mean, awful way women are kept in their place. Its called the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Tall Poppy Syndrome

For those of you lucky enough not to know about Tall Poppy Syndrome, let me enlighten you. When a poppy grows taller than its peers in the field, it has its head lopped off. ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ phenomenon applies to women (& men) when she attempts to rise in life or work and is immediately cut down with criticism or judgement. The theory is her changing stature threatens the status quo. I remember being ambitious as a kid at primary school and declaring I’d like to be school captain the next year. My peers dished out a lesson in being too big for my boots, being bossy, being a show-off and it was a lesson that remained with me for decades. This and other lessons through my gruesome teenage years taught me to keep my head down, fit in with the crowd and never, ever speak up or call attention to myself about being talented and ambitious.

No small wonder that women hold back, do not lean in or step up when the limelight beckons.

The limelight can be harsh, even brutal. So, women wait. They wait for the right time, the right boss, the right role…they wait to be noticed. Guess what? You’re not going to be noticed, discovered, anointed or appointed. BECAUSE NO-ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU! Your skills, your talents, your super powers and your accomplishments will remain unknown unless you call attention to them.

If you are being overlooked for promotions or wonderful opportunities seem to pass you by, maybe it’s because no one knows how good you are, what super powers you have or the difference you make.  Because you haven’t told anyone for fear of having your head lopped off!  Well there’s one easy, practical step you can take to overcome this barrier. Tell stories!

Bring in the dragons! It’s time to slay!

Story telling is a fantastic way for women to showcase their accomplishments and achievements. One method I absolutely love is using the dragon slaying method to tell your stories. Dragon slaying is an easy to remember and practice storytelling method to use to authentically, and without embarrassment, tell a story about a time when you made something happen, that was important and made a difference.  The method is a simple 3-part ‘recipe’ for showcasing your accomplishment:

  1. The problem you encountered
  2. The solution you created
  3. The impact you had

You tell your audience what was wrong, what you did, how you fixed the issue and what the great outcome was. Simple, right? Start practicing telling stories at dinner every night. Yep, tell your dinner partner(s) a story about your day or your week that uses this method. Practice really does make perfect. Then start ‘dragon slaying’ at work, in meetings, at coffee then at networking events.

I know that many women have a real barrier when it comes to self-promoting, so learning to tell stories using the dragon slaying method or in any way that feels authentic to you is a great way to start broadcasting and showcasing your talents, super powers and accomplishments.

Work out who matters, and why, then find a way to tell them your dragon slaying story and be a tall, vibrant, poppy in all her glory.

Come and practice your Dragon Slaying Stories at a WWGI Event. They are safe spaces and places for women to learn, connect and advance.

Questions? Drop me a line.


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