I’m not ready yet… Why Women Don’t Get Paid For Their Potential

I have a female client, J, transitioning careers who just woke up to how she’s getting in her own way – and mustering the courage to stop. This post celebrates her, and every other woman who’s decided to “get ready to be ready” to take that next step and talk up her achievements for the next job, instead of reinforcing for everyone around her how good a fit she is in her current job.

Research says that men are paid based on their potential while women are paid based on their performance and I believe this is a contributor to the equal pay gap. I used to find this curious but now I think I understand why. Most of the women I know are much more comfortable doing good work in their current job than they are talking up their accomplishments and what great capabilities they have for future opportunities.

While there’s nothing wrong with this desire to focus on getting the job done – on the surface – below the surface, it’s clear this is hurting us in more ways that a thinner wallet.

Meet J

My client, J, has a strong resume, plenty of experience relevant to her career switch, a social media following in her new career and is smart as a whip. We got into a conversation about promoting herself in her new field because she wanted to join my Coaching Circle to help women self-promote authentically and naturally – without feeling that “icky feeling” so many of us get when we have an opportunity to take credit and promote ourselves for the good work we do. J really wanted to join the circle but felt she wasn’t sure the time was right. I asked her why and she said was still working on getting her transition strategy together and wasn’t ready to tell people about her new career direction. “How long have you been working on it?” I asked. “Five months,” she replied. “Are you working in your old career now?” I probed. “Not really, I’m committed to make the switch.”

“How long is it going to take you to started talking to other people about this? People who could help you get work in your new field?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she said, “I’m not ready yet.”

This struck a bell for me because I recognized in her answer something that holds back the most accomplished of women. The new CEO of IBM, Virginia Rometty, told a story of how she once responded to new job opportunity with “I’m not ready yet,” until her husband pointed out that a man would never say that, even if it were true.

Why Women Wait To Be Ready

Women do this to ourselves all the time (myself included, until recently.) We tell ourselves the story that “I’m not ready” and so guess what? We’re not. And it’s not because we don’t have the qualifications, ideas or potential, it’s because we talk ourselves into waiting. And everyone around us knows instinctively that we’re really NOT ready because we don’t believe we are – at least we don’t believe we are enough to tell others we are. Often we hope someone else will see our potential, believe on our behalf we’re ready, and take us by the hand to guide us along the new path without us every having to acknowledge this. We have this fantasy of holding back, modestly protesting that we’re not ready and have the boss or the client SO confident in our abilities that they override us and give the big job and then back us up to make sure we’re successful. Early in our careers this does happen sometimes and it’s great when it does, but at some point, people start expecting us to do it for ourselves. When this point comes, the guys make the transition and learn from the handholding how to do it themselves. But many of the women don’t; instead we hit the glass-ceiling of our own self-confidence.

I’ve learned that there are multiple reasons for this. Girls/women aren’t encouraged to take risks on the playground, girls/women feel held to a higher standard, girls/women are perfectionists etc. etc. etc. Well, girls, it’s time to grow up. As women we can’t afford to hang around, stuck in whatever old story is holding onto us back, and keep waiting. Time’s running out.

Where Are The Women Mentors? Look To The Side

The other story we tell ourselves is that we don’t have women mentors showing us how to do this, so how can we learn? It’s true that there aren’t as many senior women around to model this kind of personal “I’m ready!” risk-taking behavior, and many of the women who have made it aren’t always so good at it either. We’re all a product of our culture, after all. But there is a way. Don’t look to your elders, look to your peers. Leverage the power of girlfriends.

I’m not talking about sleepover girlfriends here, I’m talking about professional female colleagues who can see and mirror your value and potential to you and accept you doing the same for them (which helps build your own confidence). It’s a formula that has personally helped me and many others I support learn to help each other stop telling the stories that hold us back and start stepping up to finding ways around that “icky feeling” when it comes to promoting ourselves as “Ready” to the world. And we have to believe we’re ready so others believe it and help us get that next, great job or project. They’re not going to do it for us anymore, but they will step up and help us out when we’re ready.

Not just any girlfriend will do. It has to be someone willing to put their own ego aside and SEE your true potential and then hold a mirror up to help YOU SEE it, too. I call these special ladies in our lives “promo-buddies” because they don’t let us believe our stories and they challenge us to see ourselves as capable and full of potential as they see us.

I’ve also learned that while some of us find a few of them in our personal lives, many of our closest women friends can’t or won’t do this for us. Too many of our close friends and family have their own stuff in the way or just don’t really understand our professional environment well enough to help us in this way. It’s a mistake to expect them to so stop feeling bitter if your inner circle isn’t supporting you this way and go find some of these special promo-buddy ladies. To find them, you have to go looking for them.

This is why J wanted to join our Coaching Circle. We’re bringing together a community of women to do this for each other. To get over the “I’m not ready” syndrome and help each other find the “non-icky” ways we can promote ourselves before time runs out.

“J,” I pointed out gently, “you realize you’re saying you’re not ready to get ready to be ready, don’t you?” J laughed and agreed that after five months of prep and more than that of “getting ready to get ready,” she was ready to be ready! She joined the Coaching Circle.

I would like to invite anyone reading this post to join J and I on October 23 at noon Eastern for a free discussion call to learn about the process that got her to the “I’m ready” point and to hear the stories of other women too. We’ll invite call attendees to share their stories as well. (The call will be recorded so go ahead and sign up to hear the recording if you’re reading this after the live call.) As I’ll share on the call, I have my own story I’m putting aside around this “I’m ready” thing. Because for most of us, this is an ongoing challenge that we have to keep getting over and then get over some more. Another reason why having these special promo-buddy friends is so important!

Time is running out. Stop waiting and get ready to be ready, now. There are ways to talk up your accomplishments and potential that don’t feel icky. Promo-buddy girlfriends can help but no one can do this but you. You’re ready now!

Aren’t you? What’s your “I’m not ready” story? When have you overcome it and “been ready” and had it work out well? When have you gotten in your own way? Share your experience in comments below!


  1. 103929 32762I just couldnt depart your website prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the normal information an individual provide for your visitors? Is gonna be back regularly to be able to inspect new posts 25414

  2. 203719 59298I discovered your blog web site web site on the search engines and check several of your early posts. Always preserve up the quite good operate. I lately additional increase Rss to my MSN News Reader. Seeking for toward reading significantly a lot more on your part later on! 512086

  3. 663274 116917An attention-grabbing dialogue is value comment. Im certain that its far better to write on this topic, towards the often be a taboo subject but typically persons are not sufficient to speak on such topics. To an additional location. Cheers 183514

  4. Good day! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with SEO? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success. If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

  5. I like what you guys are up too. Such smart work and reporting! Carry on the superb works guys I have incorporated you guys to my blogroll. I think it will improve the value of my website :)

  6. I’d must check with you here. Which is not one thing I often do! I get pleasure from reading a submit that may make folks think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to remark!

  7. whoah this weblog is wonderful i really like reading your articles. Keep up the good paintings! You know, a lot of individuals are searching round for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  8. 80282 521478This douche bag loves his illegal bretheren because hes a itiaen with the world and we need to be ashamed of ourselves I got news for you Asswipe get your asswiping ass back towards the craphole exactly where you came from with all of your illegal beaners 716740

  9. I have observed that in the world the present moment, video games will be the latest fad with kids of all ages. Often times it may be not possible to drag your son or daughter away from the activities. If you want the best of both worlds, there are various educational activities for kids. Good post.

  10. Thanks for the ideas you are sharing on this blog site. Another thing I’d really like to say is the fact getting hold of copies of your credit score in order to examine accuracy of each and every detail may be the first measures you have to execute in credit improvement. You are looking to clean up your credit report from harmful details problems that spoil your credit score.

  11. I used to be suggested this web site by means of my cousin. I am not certain whether or not this put up is written by him as no one else realize such specific about my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.