• Louise Southam

Successful women still self-sabotage their careers by what they believe

As I sat in my office, I looked around me at the walls where I have inspirational words, vision boards that excite me, pictures that capture great memories, I took a breath and felt such gratitude to have the career I have. Only these days I don’t see what I do as a career, I simply get up every day and do work that I love and get paid for it. What a gift.

It wasn’t always like this, I had come from the corporate world of global recruitment and whilst this had been very lucrative at the time, I often felt like I was an imposter, that the people and peers around me were so much better than me, that all my success would just go away if I didn’t work harder than everyone else. Of course, this was in my mind, it wasn’t real, except I made it real and I strived to be a top performer, putting myself under unnecessary stress and pressure to prove that I deserved to be where I was. Today, I know that whilst that belief served me and I was successful because of it, it also stopped me from going higher up the ladder because I had created my very own glass ceiling, with the gnawing of ‘you’re not good enough Louise’.

We get stuck in our own thinking, we take our beliefs, which are usually formed by the age of seven, and we live these out with absolute certainty. I genuinely believed I wasn’t good enough, that others were better and despite being in the top 5 in the company, I never paused to look at what I had achieved, I kept on striving forward with grit and determination so that I wouldn’t go in one day and be ‘found out’.

Add on to that the juggling act of being a single parent, missing out on school drop offs and pick up’s because I had to travel 30 miles to work each day, I believed I wasn’t really a good mother either. I had a rather large hammer that I could readily pick up and bash myself with and mastered that art quite well.

Today, it seems a lifetime ago that I carried around the baggage of those beliefs. The work I do now is transformational. The programmes I deliver are designed to give people the time to reflect on things they do already, as well as recognise where they are self-sabotaging themselves without even realising it. One of my programmes is very dear to my heart as it focuses on successful women. The Power of Women (POW) programme focuses on successful women, who are already doing amazing work and yet they don’t always see it. It astounds me when I am working with these ladies to hear them question themselves and to not see all the power I see in them already.

There is much focus in the workplace to increase the number of women on the board, with a target of 25% on FTSE 100. Although this this has been achieved there are still stories about how women feel the imposter syndrome despite their success. I met with a Head of HR recently for a leading organisation and he is driven to get more women to a Board position as currently only has one who was recently appointed. He was concerned that this very capable women suddenly started acting like her male colleagues in the Boardroom. Women are not men.

The message that to succeed you have to act like a man is outdated, yet it appears it is still lingering. Feminine energy is about creativity and connection, emotion and intuition. Yes, we need the balance of the masculine energy to drive us forward in our goals and if we balance both, imagine how naturally powerful we women can be. Believing that we are good enough, we deserve a place at the Boardroom table, we are great mothers and we can have it all. Can’t we? I believe we can. By slowing down, appreciating the art of how us women can manage homes and careers and more importantly, believing in ourselves for the magnificent beings we are.

I am running my next event in February. If you are ready to press pause and look in the mirror that I will hold up to you, come along and ignite your power to make your next BIG shift.

#PowerofWomen #glassceilings #transformation #selfsabotage #successfulwomen

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