‘I’m a work in progress.’ How we hide our gifts.

Work in Progress
A few thoughts for gifted women (who often don’t consider themselves gifted).

Find out how this holds you back. And what to do about it.

A little while ago I asked a few of the women I work with if they’d like to have their stories told on a video I’m making. These are stories of transformation. Women that have taken brave steps and changed their lives in various amazing ways often as a consequence of our work together (although I can’t possibly take all the credit!).

And do you know what the most common response was?

They said, ‘I love that you want to tell my story but I’m not sure that I’m a good example because I’m still a work in progress.’

Seriously, there were women here that had gone for a dream job (and got it), ended bad relationships (and got better ones), started their creative work, recovered from illness, gone on bold adventures, faced their demons (and survived!), embraced new talents…the list goes on.

I’ve heard that as women we have a habit of under selling ourselves. If you say to a woman that you can see she’s gifted at something, her response is often ‘Yes, but….’

Yes, but…..I haven’t got a qualification in it.

Yes, but……I’m still not published, done my exhibition, sold a thousand units.

Yes, but….I’m not yet as good as that person.

Yes, but…..that’s just a silly thing I do for a hobby.

The list of ‘Yes, buts’ goes on.

We are all ALWAYS a work in progress. If we weren’t, quite frankly we’d probably be dead. Because we would have stopped learning, growing and developing and life would be like a stagnant pond. Yuck!

Here is a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished.
If you’re alive, it isn’t.

Richard Bach

I’m not denying that anything that is worth doing takes work, honing of your skills and time to learn. However, here’s my ‘Yes, but’…..(except I’m using this one positively on your behalf!).

Yes, but it’s this that stops women from seeing their skills, talents, qualities, gifts and quite frankly, the courage that you’re taking stepping bravely forward in an uncertain life following your heart and doing what you feel is the right thing. The stuff that is ALREADY THERE!! Look, you’ve got me using capital letters now. This must be serious.

I have heard of findings that suggest that when a woman is asked if she will do a presentation, or teach something she’s knowledgable about or has some experience in (but that she’s not presented before) she more often then not will say, for example, ‘I’m not qualified in that, I don’t know enough about it yet, ask me when I’ve got my PHD’….whereas a man will generally say ‘Yes’, even when he’s not particularly knowledgable about the subject (although I’m sure that’s not true for all men and especially not for those reading this!). In a recent article in The New York Times ‘when asked to assess their own financial literacy, men overestimated how knowledgeable they were (relative to their actual test performance), and women underestimated their level of competency.’ http://www.taramohr.com/2013/05/or-maybe-you-do/

Today, I was thinking about the people that I work with, about what they have in common. And I realised that you are all (and that includes you even if you haven’t ever even spoken to me or you’re a man….I do work with a few of these too from time to time) gifted. I love all of you talented, brave (often funny), sensitive women. And you don’t often even know that you’re being all of those things and have such gifts.

Well, I think that it’s time for you to see them.

I’m really happy I get to write the next sentence…..

Ladies, it’s time to get your big ‘BUTS’ out of the way so you can say YES!

It’s easier for us to look ahead at the future then to look behind at the past. And this is where those buts come from. Because as you look ahead all you can see are those things you’ve got to get better at, that you need to change, that you must learn and the work that is in progress. You see the scaffolding on the building ahead.

But just for a moment, have a look behind you. The scaffolding is gone and you hadn’t noticed the beautiful golden palace that you’re building. Look at all that you’ve achieved, changed, faced, transformed and built. You did that!

So, I’m going to force you to do something now that you probably won’t like.

I’d love you to fill in the blanks (get yourself a piece of paper):

MY GIFTS ARE (list at least 5 things even if these are things you still want to improve at):

Take this on board. These are things that you can already do. How cool is that?!

Now write down how you would like to develop those talents because honouring them can mean giving them positive attention instead of neglect. What is the next step, the next thing you’d like to try or do with each? Add that next to each gift.

But instead of these next steps invalidating the talents (because it just shows that you are a work in progress or have more to achieve for them to be good enough), I’d like you to see them as simply enhancing your skills or bringing them more out into the world (or just giving them more time because they’re fun for you).

Now, I’m very glad we all went to school, but it often didn’t help us all to validate our skills because we had our work marked or graded. Everything was JUDGED.

So, please write, MY TOP 5 JUDGEMENTS are:

Remember, that marks or judgements are simply other people’s opinions. This isn’t to say that you can’t work on things, improve them, hone them but most of these judgements are rubbish. Most of these, you wouldn’t say to your child or friend or your partner. So, why do they get said to you by you? Most of these actually hold you back.

So, if you’d like a little fun with these, you could try writing them each on a little piece of paper, then hurling each one into the bin with some kind of swearing (!!). A client of mine recently chose to say ‘this is bollocks’ as she hurled each judgment across her bedroom. One pile of paper, some fun swearing and one bemused husband later she felt GOOD!! She was ready to wear the outfit to the party that she feared she would get lots of judgement for. And didn’t she look good:

I’m a Work In Progress

It’s easy for us to assume that any difficulty, pain, fear or struggle we’re feeling about something means we’re not there yet, that maybe we’ve failed because a proper, more successful person wouldn’t be scared or struggling. Yet, often the struggle is the gateway to success. It’s the struggle that leads you where you wish to go and it’s why I love to support women through it.

So, how about writing 5 Encouragements for yourself:

Because there will always be work and progress to be made but none of it makes you any less or takes away your gifts. I’m constantly delighted by the insights, talents, skills, personalities and light to the world that you all bring. It’s an awesome privilege, even when you’re in your darkest hours.

You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.
You may have to work for it, however.

Richard Bach



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