Limiting beliefs shape our experience of the world, but most of the time, they remain unconscious. By the time we reach seven years old, many of our beliefs are hardwired. As adults, most of us haul these beliefs, which have long since stopped being helpful, straight into the work place. Allowing these beliefs to direct your actions is like following a road-sign into a cul-de-sac. To stay on the road, you need to become conscious of which signs you are following. Most of my coaching at Talking Talent involves transforming limiting beliefs and the same few tend to recur no matter what the sector or organisation.
I’ll give you an example. A few years ago, I worked with one coachee who held the deeply entrenched belief that she had to be perfect. She remembers coming home from school, eleven years old, and telling her father that she had got 97% in a maths test. He said: What happened to the other 3%? From that moment on, she thought she had to get 100% otherwise she wasn’t good enough. On a practical level, this meant that she couldn’t handle negative feedback and subsequently missed out on important opportunities for growth. To let go of a belief like this, you first have to become aware of it. Once you have identified the limiting belief, you can take the next step and ask: Instead of beating myself up for not being perfect, isn’t it time that I ditched this belief, and started focusing on good feedback from my fans instead?
Our Women’s’ Leadership programmes are about shifting mindset which helps make positive change sustainable - - changing how you think as well as taking action. For example, building a personal brand may sound like a scary prospect, but once you reframe it as being clear about what your strengths and values are and communicating that to key stakeholders, it is less so. In my experience, women often assume it’s enough to work hard and view being politically savvy as a negative, as they only think of manipulative behavior, not the positives. Through coaching, we broaden their view and redefine being politically savvy, such as getting under the skin of the culture to understand how decisions really get made and flexing your approach to connect with more people.
Another belief I frequently come across are that networking as insincere, manipulative, or boring. This belief holds women back because networking is crucial to career progression. It isn’t an optional extra and has to be scheduled every week. If you imagine walking into a big room full of awkward people trying to find things in common, you’re likely to avoid networking. But it doesn’t have to be that kind of networking, it can be having a coffee with someone in another department to catch up on the latest news -- easy. It’s about meeting people, making connections and building reciprocal relationships, all of which play to women’s’ strengths. Knowing this isn’t enough, because networking is always in competition with the lure of completing a measurable task. To make change, we have to redefine networking for ourselves and build it into our routines. In our Women’s Leadership programmes, women gain these skills, build a strong network and learn to coach each other, reinforcing these positive ways of thinking. In creating a confidential, trusting environment which will outlast the programme and within which women can support each other, they also make the change sustainable.
Sallyann Weston-Scales, Managing Director, Head of Women's Leadership, Talking Talent.