The lovely Pyladies-Salvador asked for a text to debut their blog and told me that they would publish it on Women’s Day. I reflected a lot on what to write, what I could somehow add to that day that has so much meaning, and decided that I would like to talk to you about ambition. How ambitious do you consider yourself?
Yes, that question is not easy and much less recurrent. If you do not have an exact answer, we will try to examine this topic in a slightly more detailed way. What is your goal in life? Where do you want to go? How far is this idea from where you see yourself reaching? Do you really think that where you want to go is as far as you could go?
Reading the book by Sheryl Sandberg (director of operations for Facebook) I came across a somewhat desperate reality. Many speak about the existing problems of society (male chauvinism, for example) that make life difficult for women. But what I found most amazing about this book is that it shows a number of problems intrinsic to the personality of women. Thus, I present some statistics that I found most relevant:
- While 36% of men would like to become a director, only 18% of women had the same will.
- When a job was offered, 57% of the men negotiated their wages while only 7% of the women did.
- When presenting a same curriculum with different gender names (Heidi and Hyde), people tend to identify women as “bossy”, “hard to deal with” and normally, the respondents were not willing to work with the person of female sex.
What does this tell us about ambitious women? I started to reflect on it and began to realize how our examples of ambitious women are usually linked to problematical women, addicted to work, with little social life and I won’t even comment as far the family is concerned! They are the “Good Wifes” of life… Don’t you remember? Think carefully about it: tell me 1 or 2 examples of successful women in fiction whose lives were stable and controlled. I remember, however, several powerful women with a very questionable life (and sanity): Carrie (Homeland), Cuddy (House), Annalise (How to get Away with Murder), Margaret (The Offer), Alicia (The Good Wife) and so on…
Why don’t we sell the image that we can have professional and personal success? Why is everything always so difficult for women (even in fiction)? We have to start thinking and carefully reflect on what kind of impact this attitude has on our lives. And the question always remains: am I failing to do something I want simply because I was told that it is impossible?
Our cultural ideals link men to leadership qualities and women to qualities of protection. When a woman does something appointing that she may not be mainly good and pleasant, it gives a bad impression and annoys us (Debora Gruenfeld).
So let us reflect … how do you recognize your results and achievements? How do you evaluate yourself? How often do you say “I was lucky” or underestimate something you did because you aren’t prepared to receive a compliment?
Let’s stop saying that “WE get the result” when who got it was you and you alone? Let’s stop underestimating our achievements and taking over them? Yes, there is always someone who does more or better, but that does not diminish our efforts to achieve something. Or even an effort to not get something. Defeat has to be seen as a way of learning and not as something to blame us for life.
Yes, there is fear … fear of not being able to make it, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of making mistakes, of failing, of being a fraud, of being judged and afraid of being a terrible mother / daughter / wife. All these fears exist, are real, and are often paralyzing. But lack of trust can be a prophecy that is fulfilled by itself. My invitation here today is for you to reflect on and try to change this story. Even if it is one achievement at a time. How about saying to someone you admire, “I achieved this,” or “I did that on my own and I’m proud of what I achieved.” If you feel a little more proud and confident, I think I will have achieved what I wanted with this text.
And then I ask you again… how far do you want to go?