I interviewed the authors of ‘The Women’s Power Handbook in the late 1990’s when I worked for an Australian television network.
Book launches could be a bit of a ‘ho-hum’ assignment but meeting the authors – the first woman Premier of Victoria Joan Kirner and lawyer and human rights advocate Moira Rayner – was great because they were both enthusiastic about what we can achieve.
Here’s their top 2 assets of a successful woman..
1. CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE
You won’t succeed in anything unless you are clear about what you want to achieve and know how to measure, whether, and how well, you have achieved it. Muddling through means not making a difference. It means making a muddle.
To be powerful you need goals, targets and rewards. .. You need to find your own vision and then plan to achieve it.
* List the dreams you have now, or used to have.
* Write them down. Do you still want them? If not discard them. Then write down the steps you would have to take to realise them. This is a reality check.
* Start where you are now. You may want a new job, a good school for your kids, a local council that listens to you as a citizen or resident, or a better relationship – it doesn’t matter what it is. Don’t wait for the big challenge to come along: decide what you want to change now, and start small.
* Be clear about your target and our focus. You might have lots of plans and dreams, but start with a small one. Too large a target can become a burden. Pick the one that seems the most achievable and satisfying. Then take one step at a time, and consciously praise yourself for every small achievement, every milestone passed. Each success motivates and energises you and increases your capacity to make a real difference.
One of the essentials of successful women, at work, in public and in private life, is having confidence in your own capacity to make a difference and your ability to succeed. You need the confidence to trust your own judgment, to take risks, and to negotiate on your own terms; and you need confidence to believe that your own experience, ambition and needs do matter.
One of the very best ways to achieve confidence is preparation: knowing the facts, thinking and talking over the strategies, and planning. Most victories are not won by geniuses, but by those who work meticulously and single-mindedly on their objectives. If you prepare well, including getting support from others, you will have the confidence to engage in the debate on your own terms.
Having a purpose turns your engine on. Then you need the energy to keep turning it over. Success creates that energy – just a spark ignites that fuel. A leadership trajectory is powered by confidence. We all have the potential, yet only some realise it. You have to believe that you have the ability and the right to be worthy of power – and you have to own this before you can use any of the practical tips we give you.
Many successful women were lucky in their choice of parents, who were supportive of their daughters’ ambitions, political activism, creative assertiveness and womanhood, and who approved of their strength. But how do we become confident, in our own capacity, in our own image, if we didn’t get that support as a child? Where do we get the confidence to stand up for things we believe in and value? ….
Check out this song written during the first Australian High Court case on equal pay for women in 1969.
Here’s the chorus;
“Don’t be too polite, girls, don’t be too polite;
Show a little fight, girls, show a little fight.
Don’t be fearful of offending in case you get the sack;
Just recognise your value and you won’t look back.
Confidence is part of the male armoury of success and influence. Joan needed confidence more than ever when she became Victorian Premier. Most mornings she would get up, stand tall, square her shoulders (padded, in those days) and say to herself, ‘I can do it – I will do it.’ Both parts of that statement are important. Too many women know the first but don’t say or do the second. What Joan was doing was giving herself an internal appreciative audience. We all need one.
In Moira’s last year of primary school her father arranged a little presentation ceremony for her, just before the break-up concert. Her parents gave her her first camera, and her father told her, “We want you to know we are proud of you, and know you did your very best.’ Moira realised later that her parents thought she wasn’t going to get an award she had set her heart on: she wanted to be dux of the junior school. She went to that last night’s concert confident that she didn’t need to win to be loved and appreciated.
You can create the same feelings by remembering the good experiences and by rewarding yourself for being you. It isn’t hard to do: have a long hot bath, or get a really good massage, or sit in front of a fire on a dark, wet night. Do whatever it is that makes you feel good; sometimes that might be just talking to a good listener.
Moira once got a very good piece of advice from a good listener, a long time ago. She had just gone back to her home town after a long absence and a major personal trauma, and was welcomed by old friends and family and felt especially cared for. A friend suggested that she ‘bookmark’ this feeling in her mind; find some time, every day, when she could be alone for a few minutes, then make herself comfortable, close her eyes and be there again. This is a really useful thing to do when things seem dark.
Once you start to feel good about yourself, you will quite naturally start to feel competent, and you will find the confidence to believe that you really can do anything you want to. Believing in yourself and being sure of your purpose means that you can make reliable assessments about what is and isn’t possible, and about the resources required to achieve it. You need support in order to find and keep this faith in your abilities. You can’t achieve everything on your own. You should work out who of your friends and colleagues and family feels good about you. You need to surround yourself with such people – not “yes” men who will not tell you the uncomfortable truths (you still need them, in moderation), but people who will give you an appreciative audience to complement the one within yourself. They will help you to feel able to go on and achieve your best.
MH: Internal appreciative audience and PREP.A.RATION. Great messages for me. Let me know if you want to hear more of the assets of a successful woman. The list is longer but I don’t want to bombard you with information. Mart.
Got an extra five minutes for some style inspiration? Head to the style section under the MENTOR TOPICS at www.engagingwomen.com.au
ABOUT: The Women’s Power Handbook
Authors: Joan Kirner and Moira Rayner, Penguin Books Australia Limited.