WomenED Thailand: Being 10% Braver means Owning Our Strengths

by  Jacqui Brelsford @BrcounsellorJ

Asking someone to nominate me for an award is probably one of the most uncomfortable things I could do. Putting myself out there is not something that comes naturally. My education was one of criticism and abiding by the archaic, strict rules of jaded teachers who didn’t know any better, and the shame of getting something wrong or being judged has stayed with me my whole life.

I think of that picture we’ve all seen a million times of the two circles which say ‘your comfort zone’ on one, and ‘where the magic happens’ on the other. It definitely motivates me, and it’s an image that I show my students as a reminder for them to step out of their comfort zones.

 

Where the magic happens 1

 

I am a firm believer in not asking kids to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. Karaoke at an assembly - yes. Random Act of Kindness - yes. Gorge swing on a school trip - yes. In fact, I get huge amounts of my confidence from thinking about what kind of model I want students, particularly female students, to see me as. If I want my students to be brave, I have to model being brave myself.

This week I carried out some uncomfortable self-promotion and got myself nominated for an award. I saw the award on Twitter and forwarded it to my colleague. I didn’t ask her directly to nominate me for it, but I was hoping she agreed that I fit the description, and she agreed!

“That’s how you play the game” was her response when I voiced my discomfort around asking for the nomination. Part of me knew that. Nobel Prize, and Academy Award winners don’t win by letting people come to their work. They have to hustle and self-promote. I can’t help but think this is what men do, therefore this is what I will do. In my case, I knew my colleague would agree to nominate me for the award, but I also knew that she wasn’t on Twitter and she wasn’t going to find this award on her own. She needed it put in her line of vision. If not by me, then who?

The award nomination description suggested as many references as possible be submitted to build the nomination portfolio. I figured I’d already asked one person; I might as well go for it and ask other colleagues for their help. I reached out to a handful of people thinking that if just one of them writes me a reference that would be great. I sent them some notes to give them a little reminder about what I have been doing, and how I fit the criteria of this award. The response I got back was a universal “yes!”, and I ended up getting six reference letters in support of me!

I saw one of my references and I was absolutely blown away by what that person had said. I took for granted, for example, my ability to stand in front of a large group of my peers and give a presentation. For someone who has a deep fear of judgment, I’m surprisingly good at this, and it was really meaningful to hear this reminder about my own strengths.

As women, owning our strengths and successes is not something that necessarily comes naturally to us… this is part of being that 10% braver. I thought that I would keep it a secret that I had to ask someone to nominate me for this award, but I decided to write this blog to encourage others to do the same.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be an award, but if you’ve done something, or if you’re going to do something... tell people. If you want some recognition for your hard work, that’s OK, you’ve earned it!

Being humble is one thing but doing great work in secret and getting nowhere is another. Share it on social media, email it to your boss and say “Hey! Look what I did, what do you think?” Don’t be afraid to own your strengths and your successes, after all, they’re yours to show!

 

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