Originally published at the Huffington Post.
I mentor professionals around the world and it is fascinating to me to observe how men and women approach situations, challenges, and new opportunities differently. Here are some of the comments that I have heard in mentoring sessions with the female mentees: “I do not think that I am qualified to apply for this job”, ” what if I do not sound intelligent”, “I am scared to fail”, “what would the team think of me”, ” I need to lose some weight”, and for the ones that live outside the US “my English is not good enough”. This couldn’t be further from reality; these women are intelligent, beautiful, giving, and great contributors to the business and their communities. But, for some reason they tend to terrify themselves with all possible and untrue reasons of why they are incapable, instead of just going after to the challenge as their male counterparts do.
My favorite story is about an experienced professional who always dreamed to run for a local county position in the US in order to help improve her neighborhood. This role would be in addition to maintaining her demanding daily job. This has been a passion that she had for years, yet she could not do it because she needed to take care of her young family. When her children went to college, she was ready and the stars were lining up for her. On our call she was describing the opportunity, her voice was giggling with passion and joy while she was telling me about her ideas and vision. Then, her voice became lower and she said: “I have gained some weight the last few years, what if they do not think that I am good enough because of that?”
I listen to comments such as these, and feel that each woman is holding a mirror that reflects my own fears and insecurities. For the longest time I thought that it was just me putting myself down because of my upbringing and the programming that came from my conservative family. To my surprise, most women that I spoke with that are from diverse geographical, economical, educational, and religious backgrounds are united with these same challenges–it is a global phenomenon. It made me wonder if we all inherited a gene that controls our being from a cellular level that is responsible for this evil critic in our heads. If so, who has the code to deprogram it and shut it down?
For every woman out there, even if she feels that she is not good enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough, or strong enough, I want to say that you are AMAZING. You have all that it takes, you are strong and able to change the society, you are smart and able to compete even when you feel intimidated, you are beautiful and able to attract events and men that deserve you, and most importantly, you are the leader that we have been waiting for–you have it all and able to do it all.
So, lets shut that voice off and start leading the world!