Written By Jess Kniaz
On Thursday evening Lotus People ran our second annual Women in Leadership event. Held in our beautiful new offices, over 80 women (and two very brave men) gathered to listen to the inspirational stories and advice shared by panellists Helen Waldron, Alex Hattingh and Laura Hall. Moderator for the evening, Bek Day, guided the panel through a series of questions around overcoming adversity and the innate fear of failure so many of us experience.
It was truly empowering to hear four successful business women open up about their personal experiences with failure, and what did we learn? We all fail! Adversity is part of life, its unavoidable, and being female in the business world, where men still hold the majority of executive positions means we are bound to experience some form of adversity throughout our career.
As the panel delved into the topic, we discovered it is not adversity that holds us back, but fear. Fear to speak up, fear to be different, fear of judgement, fear of failure. So how do we overcome this little voice in our head that holds us back from taking that leap into the unknown?
Firstly, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. There is no rule book that says we must achieve certain milestones by a certain age, in a certain way, or even at all. We need to let go of this desire to be perfect, and focus less on trying to tick all the boxes, whether that be applying for a new job or trying to balance work, family and social life.
The reality is, to move forward, you just have to put yourself out there and back yourself 100%. A belief in yourself is integral, however, you don’t have to do it alone. The panel emphasised the importance of having a support network. A mentor can guide you through unknown territory, shedding light on the unfamiliar by sharing their own experiences, which are likely to include stories of failure! You are your harshest critic. Sharing ideas, goals and feelings with a trusted support network can provide the validation that is often hard to find on your own. Be vulnerable and ask for help; humility is not a sign of weakness.
Finally, failure can be empowering. Once you fail, you realise it’s not that bad, and most of the time can be turned into a positive learning experience. If we reframe failure as learning, the fear dissipates. So next time you find your doubts and fears holding you back, take a moment to think, what’s really the best and worst that can happen? I fulfil my goals and dreams, or, I learn and grow? Sounds like a win win to me.