As a career and executive coach dedicated to the advancement of women, it’s not often these days that I’m surprised by women’s behavior. I know women – especially midlife ones – quite well, or so I thought. But I’ve been rocked recently by a finding that’s emerging from my research on Women Succeeding Abundantly. This study explores the stories of working women across the country, ages 25 to 75 who are experiencing abundant success on their own terms as they define it, and are thriving and living joyfully.
I’m learning as the study progresses that women are much more comfortable talking about how things are not what they want in their lives, than they are sharing about their successes. They just very reluctant to come forward and admit, “Hey, I’m really successful, and I’m proud of that!”
A friend of mine recently shared with me that when Shirley MacLaine won her Oscar in 1984 for her role in “Terms of Endearment,” she was certainly grateful in her acceptance speech, but also declared, “Thanks, I deserve this!”
Nuggets of Shirley’s speech…
“I don’t believe there are such things as accidents. I think that we all manifest what we want and what we need. I don’t think there’s a difference really between what you feel you have to do in your heart, and success – they’re inseparable…Films and life are like clay waiting for us to mold it, and when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of principle it seems to me is at work with everyone…God bless that potential that we all have for making anything possible if we think we deserve it. I deserve this. Thank you!”
From that sentiment of her feeling of deservedness, there was some backlash – in other words, people thought “How dare she say she deserves to win!”
Wow…I guess we had better not even whisper that we’ve earned our great success and that it’s well-deserved. It’s just not yet acceptable yet for women to do so. And this is not something we’ve “made up” in our minds. Unfortunately, national research shows that success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. In other words – women who are successful aren’t liked as well as successful men.
CLICK HERE to read my full Huffington Post article on why women don’t talk about their success.
Are you reluctant to share your successes openly? If so, what holds you back the most?