Sing, Woman, Sing

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Archived from the week of 7/9/18 @ The Guilde:

“I loved what I did. 
I could have been Secretary of State forever.”
--Madaleine Albright

 
We know this is going to shock you but . . . research shows that men are far more likely to brag than women are.
 
No, really!
 
Joking aside, we women tend to be incredibly modest about our achievements, strengths and contributions, if ever acknowledging them at all. In fact, it can be a stretch for the average woman to acknowledge her victories inside her own head, much less out loud to the world.
 
And who can blame us? Social scientists agree that this phenomenon is deeply ingrained in our gender identities. Not only are most girls taught that modesty and humility are virtues, but we also digest –- whether consciously or unconsciously –- that judgment will surely rain down on our heads if we dare to toot our own horns.
 
As women, bragging feels bad and means we are bad to boot.

Social Scientist Jessi Smith, who researches the psychology of bragging in women, confirms that the "backlash effect" is real. "The backlash effect shows that when a woman puts her best foot forward . . . she is not liked, by women and men alike. They think she’s smart, but they don’t want to be her friend and they do want to allocate resources to her. So in some ways, women are smart to have figured out that when they violate the modesty norm, it doesn’t feel good and people aren’t going to respond favorably to them."

But the net effect of our modesty is a problem.

In our quest to not feel full of ourselves, we forget what we are full of. Indeed, even women at the top of their game regularly report that they feel like imposters. As for the rest of us, we walk around on a daily basis forgetting how good we are, how experienced, how much we care about what we do, and how much value we offer. And that impacts the opportunities we are offered, the resources we receive, and the leadership roles we play.
 
The fact is that research also supports that the more you talk positively about yourself, the more it actually elevates your career. This makes sense to us. If you feel good about what you’re doing, then we can feel good about it, too. And if you are proud of your accomplishments, you make it easier for others to promote and support you.
 
Given this juncture in history, it’s vital that we as women learn how to highlight and celebrate our own accomplishments in our own way. That we begin to communicate a self-narrative of leadership so we can truly be role models for one another.  It’s time for women to develop the art of authentically and assuredly singing our own praises.

We use this phrase deliberately. Unlike the term bragging, which implies excessive exaggeration, boasting, and grandstanding, “singing your own praises” conveys something melodious, genuine, even quite possibly beautiful. Simply telling the truth about who you are and what you’ve achieved. Showing pride in your work; pride in who you are; belief in your actions and words. Recognizing and communicating your great and unique value to the world.
 
Let’s all try it together, shall we? Here’s how we can start:
 
Gather the Evidence.
Every skill, every strength, every achievement, everything you are proud of, and every value you know you carry when you walk into a room. Get them all down. On paper.
 
Relish.
Relish in your amazingness. This sounds cheesy and self-indulgent as hell, but we mean it. Rejoice in who you are. For at least a minute or two.
 
Sister-Up.
Support other women. But really. This means two things: (1) Shift your internal response to women who speak up about their accomplishments and abilities to a genuinely admiring one, even if their execution is imperfect; and (2) Practice singing the praises of the women around you. You probably already do this, but do it more often, and do it with heart.
 
Learn to Sing Your Own Praises.
Yes, this is the difficult, uncomfortable part we all want to avoid. It will take time and practice to do it with ease. So start by sharing your victories where you know it’s safe to do so –- with your dearest (supportive!) friends and family members, and in communities and contexts like The Guilde, where unconditional support is a given.
 
Most of all, do it in a way that allows you to be yourself. Use a story-telling approach, sharing about yourself in an honest, authentic, enthusiastic way. Like Madaleine Albright, express your love for what you do. Give specific details. Speak with sincerity from your head and your heart.
 
It’s genuinely uncomfortable at first. We know.
 
For our own part, it has been much easier to promote other womens’ skills, gifts and achievements than it has been our own -– to give other women the stage, so to speak. But we are going to take some of our own medicine today, and share what we are genuinely proud of right now when it comes to our work:
 
We, Dana and Kristan, are proud that we’ve been willing to commit and recommit ourselves to The Guilde throughout a long journey that includes many small victories, missteps, failures, and necessary pivots; that we’ve developed a healthy partnership that fully honors one another’s strengths, contributions and desires; and that we’ve created something in the world that comes straight from our hearts.
 
There. Now it’s your turn.

XO, Dana & Kristan