My oldest friend in the world texted me today asking “Do you want to pinch yourself? How amazing is your life?”
The honest answer is that I don’t pinch myself enough. I’m living a BIG life. I am fulfilling my childhood dreams. I am somehow managing to juggle my business, my new media career, various collaborative projects, whilst (seemingly) effortlessly playing the role of Mummy to my gorgeous toddler. Easy, right?
From the outside looking in, it might look easy. It might look like ‘over-night success’, it might even look enviable.
But don’t call me lucky.
The life that I’m creatively crafting with my family today has been 20 years in the making. My business has been building for 15 years and my media career, 12. Overnight, my a@#.
I’ve made mistakes, had knock-backs, learned hard lessons and nursed broken hearts. I’ve made friends with debt and enemies with trolls, I’ve trudged through the boredom of routine ‘bread and butter’ work and lived the high life consulting in Dubai. I’ve worked from my bed, on planes, from my own swanky office, cafes and co-working spaces.
As a kid, my family often laughed and teased me for being a ‘dreamer’. I always had big ideas about life and often very little grasp on reality. I knew that I wanted to be something more than ordinary, that I wanted to escape suburbia for something bigger and scarier. Today, that cock-eyed optimism has morphed into a (more realistic) hard-core determinism and self-belief that has led me to places I couldn’t have possibly conjured up as a dreamy teen. That kid with stars in her eyes would not allow me to settle for NO or take the road most travelled. She pushed me to create my own version of reality, and often daydreamed about the successful, glamourous, abundant, happy life of the future (this practice has become a core piece of my success toolkit today).
One of my key tricks has been to ‘fake it until you become it’, as the genius social psychologist Amy Cuddy calls it. From simple things like putting the term ‘speaker’ on my business card 5 years before I would secure my first speaking gig, to pitching myself as the ‘dating and relationship expert’ to a well-known online dating company when no such role existed. My greatest example of hard-core self belief so far landed me my first full-time TV role.
There was no job ad on Seek. There was no job vacancy. At all.
I believed I could add real value to the show, and I knew I had the foundational skills to do the job well (between you and I, I’d just never practiced them before!). I pitched myself as the full package, despite knowing on an intellectual level that a) no vacancy existed and b) I had no track record in a similar role.
The rest, as they say, is TV history.
What Does The Science Say?
Research tells us that men have been doing exactly this for years. It’s considered normal for a man to pitch himself above his current level of competence, to ask for more money, to negotiate beyond his worth and to actively self promote. The flip side of this is that women, actually girls, have been socialised to believe that we must earn our place at the table, that we should tick all the right boxes before putting ourselves forward and we should accept second best as status quo.
Did you know that men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them?
This statistic comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report, and has been quoted in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, The Confidence Code and loads of articles. As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.”
So maybe it’s time to lean in? I’m not holding myself up as some kind of Confidence Queen as I certainly have my moments of self-doubt. But I do believe that we all have the capacity to achieve more, so much more than our limiting minds conceive. I believe, by stepping outside our cosy comfort zone and taking a risk, we all have the potential to blow expectations out of the water and do something amazing.
What’s your BIG DREAM? Is there something you think about in those dreamy moments between awake and asleep, as your head settles into your pillow and your mind is free to wander? Do you picture yourself in some outrageous parallel universe? As a super-charged version of yourself?
All it takes is one step.
One step toward your dream and you are no longer a dreamer, you are a doer.
It might take time to get there, but at least you will feel that the journey has begun and you are in the process of becoming the new you. Create a vision board, meditate on a mantra, set pop up reminders in your phone, whatever works for you.
I’d love to hear about the one thing you are doing to take the first step toward your extraordinary life. Hit me up on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and let’s encourage each other to lean in, step up and BE extraordinary.