When breaking the rules is a good thing

“Don’t hold yourself back because you’re afraid or because you’ve been hurt…acknowledge your fear, accept it, and walk though it with confidence.” – Iyanla Vanzant

According to the book Darling you Can’t Do Both, there are common “rules” women abide by that are holding us back. At last month’s Lean In Canada event the authors of the book, Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk dispelled some of these rules and provided tips on how to bend and break them.

Lean In Canada 2

Here are three rules that stuck with me:

OLD RULE: Nice girls say yes vs. NEW RULE: Say yes when it makes sense

Women are hardwired to be pleasers which works against us in our careers. Instead of doing what is right for us or the organization, we work extra hard to get validation from others. Nancy Volk powerfully said, “The need to be liked is hurting our decision making.” Saying yes all the time for the sake of avoiding conflict is a recipe for burn out. If you keep saying yes to work requests you’ll soon find yourself with piles of work which is not beneficial for the organization or for your career. Value your time and your skills. True leadership is having the ability and confidence to say no.

OLD RULE: Put your head down, work hard and you’ll be rewarded vs. NEW RULE: Put up your hand up and ask for a promotion

Business is not a meritocracy. In today’s standards, it’s not enough to excel in your job. If you work hard you might not always be acknowledged or rewarded for your accomplishments. It’s your responsibility to be your own advocate and confidently vocalize your ambitions. You have to put up your hand up for a promotion- don’t expect it. Spell out your ambition to your boss, demonstrate the value your work has on your team and the organization and explain why you’re deserving of a reward.

OLD RULE: Only do it when you’re ready vs. NEW RULE: Do it anyway

Women have the tendency to only apply for a job or agree to an opportunity if we are sure we know how to do it. We aspire for perfection. With leadership and most things in life you can’t prepare for it. You just have to brace yourself and try it. Nancy said it best, “Let go of your need for perfection.” Don’t let your fears or feelings of discomfort let you pass up a great career opportunity. Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.


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