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Tag Archives: women

Why Investing In Yourself Is Critical and Why So Many Women Don’t

As a women’s career coach and consultant, I deliver scores of training series, teleclasses and career coaching programs each year helping women build more success and reward in their careers. In the seven years I’ve offered these types of programs, I’ve been truly shocked at the number of women (hundreds upon hundreds) who indicate they want to join a program (whether it’s $10, $100, or $1,000), but never pull the trigger.  I can tell you categorically that this is different behavior from what I see in the men who come to me for help. And this reluctance relates to all forms of development –  classes, certification, joining industry associations, attending networking functions, asking for funding, getting help with business plans, and much more.

Typically, men hear me speak, or read my website and blog, talk to me, and then say “Yes” very quickly to working together. No hemming and hawing, no “Let me have a few days to think about this,” and certainly not “I have to check in with my spouse about the investment.” Ever.  Even when the woman is the primary breadwinner, she often doesn’t feel she has the power or authority to say yes to investing in herself without checking with her husband first. I believe that a part of this behavior is a lack of confidence women experience in investing in their own growth.

There’s been a great deal of research and writing about this confidence gap in women, and the root causes, and I have my own theories and beliefs about what contributes to it today (including cultural training, rigid gender roles, role modeling, etc.). But as a career coach who spent years as a therapist and a corporate director focused on advancing women, I’m less interested in the causes and much more interested in the solutions.  I’ve come to see that this is not a myth – women often do, in fact, let their doubts and insecurities about themselves stop them, whereas men tend to push forward despite their doubts. For example, in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, she references an internal report at Hewlett-Packard that revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed; men apply if they think they meet 60 percent of the requirements. I share this not to be unsupportive to women, but to help us all gain awareness of what’s holding us back to achieve what we long for.  After all, greater awareness equals greater choice.

Do a check-in and see if you’re suffering from this condition I call “intractable resistance to growth.” Here are what I’ve found to be top five reasons why women won’t invest in their own growth when they should, and why it hurts them. Do these sounds familiar?

They need to check with someone else.

When it comes to personal and professional development (or anything in life for that matter), you need to make yourself the highest authority of your life, not your spouse, your sister, your boss, your partner.  You need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what you need, want and what you deserve, and go out and get it.  It’s not up to your spouse or anyone else to tell you if you should make this investment – it’s up to you. (I know you’ll say that you and your husband need to agree on your budgeting, etc. To that, I say you need to know what’s necessary, and find a way to get it.)

They’re not sure this is the “right” time.

Here’s a harsh reality: we’re all over –the-top busy and over-committed, and it’s never going to feel like the “right time” to invest in yourself.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best time.  You’ll always be able to make excuse after excuse as to why you don’t have time to do something critical that will help you. But people who create great success, happiness and reward in their lives carve out the necessary time and money.  They don’t get lost in all the reasons why later would be better.

They’re not clear about the return on investment.

Women worry, “Will I get enough out of this?” and “Will this be a mistake?” Ensuring that your investment offers a healthy return is a choice – it’s based on your actions and decisions, not some random act or chance occurrence. It requires thorough research and due diligence to know if an investment will pay off, but more than that, it requires confidence and commitment that you’ll make sure the money you spend on yourself will be well worth it in the long run.

CLICK HERE to read the complete article on the top 5 reasons women resist investing in themselves.

Do you resist investing in your own growth?  Do you chronically put yourself last?  What can you do to push forward and step up to say “YES!” to supporting your own development, and contributing to the world in bigger ways.  I’d love your thoughts.

Change Your Career or Change Your Attitude?

Kathy's Video Blog "Work You Love"

Hello and welcome to my new weekly video blog Work You Love!

This vlog is dedicated to addressing one key career issue or question from my readers each week, all around how to build successful, rewarding and satisfying careers you love.

Below is Episode 1 on “Should I Change My Career or My Attitude?” touching on the question of how to determine if what’s going on your career warrants significant change or just an adjustment in your mindset and attitude.



I hope that’s useful! Please share your candid feedback and input below – I’d love to hear from you and would be grateful for your thoughts.

If YOU have a burning question pertaining to your career, job or professional life, please share it with me.  No question is too big or too small.  Ask away, because your query represents that of thousands of other professionals around the world.  Your candid exploration and sharing helps others.

CLICK HERE to submit your question, and I’ll do my best to address it in the weeks to come.

Here’s to your breakthrough to amazing career success, happiness and reward.



The 7 Reasons Women Don’t Talk About Success

Français : L'actrice américaine Shirley MacLai...

Image via Wikipedia

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 AbundantlyThis 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?

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10 Key Ways That Being More Positive Enhances Your Career and Your Life

As a trained marriage and family therapist and career coach, I’ve researched for over eight years what makes some people highly successful interpersonally and in business, and others doomed to fail.

I’ve observed this: Being more positive in your behaviors and language makes room for far greater success, satisfaction and reward in your life (this goes for your marriage and family life too). 

In Marriage as In Life and Work

During my therapy training, I read a fascinating book called The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  In it, the author, leading relationship expert Dr. John Gottman, explains that there are particular types of negative interactions that, if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship that he calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  These four horsemen “clip-clop into the heart of a marriage in the following order : criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.”

I’ve seen these exact same harbingers of professional disaster in the workplace as well. Allowed to run unfettered, these Four Horsemen will certainly clip-clop into the heart of your career and professional life with a deadly thud.

Dr. Gottman discovered a formula he believes is provable and reliable – that to make your marriage successful, you must ensure that there are five times more positive, loving interactions than negative, painful interactions between you and your spouse. If you don’t adhere to this formula, serious unhappiness ensues.  And if you dip toward the 1:1 ratio consistently, he says you’re likely to end in divorce.  He can watch a couple discuss a problem or conflict for only a few minutes, and predict with eerie accuracy if they’ll eventually end in divorce.

Interestingly, I’ve seen the relevance of this positive-to-negative interaction formula in people’s careers and professional endeavors as well.  Those who are consistently more negative than positive in their communications and interactions suffer from an untimely demise of their career potential.

Why is Negativity So Destructive? 

Negativity limits, constrains and tears down.  Negativity also tends to escalate, and as it does, it strips away future opportunities for success, self-esteem, trust, confidence, and growth.

What Does Positivity Do Instead?

Being positive, on the other hand, has the opposite effect – it builds, repairs, and protects.  Using positive language and behaviors builds up support structures and creates new roads to solutions and success.  It paves the way for a deeper level of human connection, compassion, and creativity.

 In fact, I’ve found that concentrating your focus on being more positive as you engage in your professional endeavors achieves the following 10 powerful outcomes:

Being more positive:

1)      Helps you engage with others more effectively and gain support more easily for your ideas and initiatives

2)      Develops you as a role model and someone to “watch,” admire and learn from

3)      Gives you greater positive impact and influence on your culture, your environment and your colleagues (positive language and emotion are magnets)

4)      Boosts your “immunity” to negative outside occurrences  – you become more resilient and bounce back quicker

5)      Inspires others around you to find the courage to seek — and move toward — the positive

6)      Strengthens your ability to advocate effectively for yourself and others,  which in turn attracts more opportunity for all involved

7)      Paves the way for more collaborative success rather than crushing competition

8)      Builds your reputation as someone worthy of trust and support

9)      Helps you see possibility where others see only hopelessness

10)   Brings to light your achievements and accomplishments rather than highlighting your failures

In the end, positivity paves the way for growth, and growth breeds success. 

You might be thinking, “Sure, I know being positive is important, but I can’t seem to shift myself out of my negative thinking, especially with all this bad news around us today.” 

If this sounds like you, I’d ask you to think again.  We CAN change and modify – it’s called evolving.  We ARE able to shift ourselves away from negative, destructive and damaging negative patterns to more positive ones – in our relationships and in our work.  I know, because I’ve worked extremely hard to create these shifts in myself and in my career, and have seen countless others do the same, to great success. 

If you will make the commitment today to engage in more positive behaviors and thoughts in your life and work, I know you won’t regret it.

Your challenge:  This week, take a very close look at your communications and interactions at work.   What is the ratio of your positive communications to negative ones?  If the ratio is at least 5 (positive) to 1 (negative), kudos to you!  If not, there’s some important work to be done.

Loving Who They Are and Who They Aren’t

A few days ago, I was taking a break with a friend, sitting outside in a beautiful park, soaking up the sun.  I relished the chance to sit quietly in nature and catch up.  We got around to discussing our personal lives and the inner workings of our family dynamics.

We shared, laughed, winced, and sighed – at all the things that are going very well, and those things that we wished might have been different.  (It’s wonderful to a have a friend you can be truly candid and authentic with, isn’t it?) What a gift.

After sharing a bit about our perceived triumphs and disappointments, my friend said something that reached in and plucked a heartstring for me.  She said:

“Kathy, I’ve realized that in order to be happy and not drive myself mad, I have to love my kids and my husband for who they are, but also for who they aren’t.”

Wow, did that resonate for me.

My friend was talking about that fact that, despite everything we try to do for our family, and how hard we strive to shape them (and our relationships) in ways we think are healthy, happy and productive — they’re just not always going to be who we think they should be, or who we think we want them to be.

But rather than waste precious time longing for them to be different, it’s so much more peaceful and fulfilling to accept them as they are, and love them for who they and for who they are not.  It’s an easier and more joyful life when we embrace the idea that if parts of our loved ones were different – even tiny fragments or slivered dimensions — they simply wouldn’t be the people we love so deeply.

Our discussion reminded me of something my husband said to me years ago when we were first married.  I was picking a quarrel with him about something insignificant about his behavior (some imagined huge “flaw” of his that I was deeply annoyed about), and he said,

“You know, Kathy, I don’t view you and our relationship the way you do.  I don’t extract out the small, petty things I don’t like, examine them and make a federal case of them, or wish they were different.  I accept what is.  I look at you as a whole package that I’ve married – not something I can dissect and separate into little pieces that are good or bad.  I take the whole thing.”  

My friend and I explored this, and agreed that women seem to do more of this “separate, evaluate, and denigrate” thing.   We hone in on the stuff that we believe should be modified.  We magnify it and make it a huge bone of contention.  Men on the other hand, don’t seem to have this ever-constant need to pick us apart and talk to death about the stuff they wish were different.

Whether it’s a gender thing or not, I know this to be true – when I am able to fully accept my family (and everyone else I know, for that matter, including myself), my life goes better. 

My job, I realize, isn’t to play creator or “tinkerer” – it’s to be fully present, alive, loving and accepting, to the greatest degree I can.

When I’m able to do that, I realize that all is just as it should be.

How about you – Do you find more joy and peace when you accept your loved ones for who they are, rather than tinker with them to be someone else?

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