Your voice – Are you using it to inspire others?
A couple of months ago women, both young and old, joined forces in women’s marches all over the world. They stood up to some quite worrying and discriminating political messages - an extraordinary thing to watch.
Whether you have political views or not, it is important for women everywhere to remember that we didn't have a voice 100 or so years ago. It all changed because of the bravery of the original suffragettes and the feminist movement 50 or 60 years later.
The first gave us a voice and later the vote. The second gave us more equality and freedom of choice. But it's sad to say that 40 years on, women are still affected by prejudice, discrimination or the gender pay gap at work.
If speaking up in a political or legal context makes you feel uncomfortable, there are other ways to make a direct difference to women’s lives (the saying ’behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women who have her back’ springs to mind).
Why it’s important to inspire others
Every year on 8 March (International Women's Day), I can't help thinking of the business events I used to host with my colleague and friend Mary.
Starting with only 10 women in 2006, our events grew year on year until we motivated and inspired audiences of over 120 women.
Neither of us had ever held events that size before! And, admittedly, we did have a few scary moments – usually about 2 weeks before the big date. It was typically when doubts about ticket sales or speakers not being able to make it reared their ugly heads.
Making the decision to go ahead invariably meant taking a big (financial) risk which took a bit of courage at the time.
Despite the challenges, somehow things always worked out. Every year we pushed ourselves a little more out of our comfort zone by inviting more prestigious speakers or trusting ourselves to present more important topics, always wanting to engage women and inspire them to aim higher in business.
We did put a smile on women’s faces. They told us how much it meant to them to receive a powerful motivational boost. And to reconnect with that “I can do it” feeling which is easy to lose when you’re too busy or in the midst of a setback.
It put a spring in our step too knowing that we had been able to use our voice to inspire!
So how can you inspire others?
You don’t have to hold an event to do it. You can your voice at home to inspire and build confidence in your daughters.
And you can inspire others via your blog or in social media when you talk about something you feel passionate about. Even speaking in business meetings and helping your customers could be an opportunity to inspire.
We should do it today and every day.
Tame the little voice that holds you back!
Sometimes it’s hard to inspire others when we are all too aware of something holding us back.
Often it's that little voice in our own heads that speaks to us in a self-limiting way. Listening to it can stop us from either seeing or seizing the opportunities presented to us.
So there are times when we effectively sabotage ourselves. Either fear takes hold or we tell ourselves that we are not worth listening to. Or that what we speak or write about won't impact or inspire others anyway.
Self-employed women can even be at risk of creating our own pay gap! This may sound outrageous but it isn’t.
Time and time again I see women charge a great deal less for their service than a male colleague would. I’ve seen evidence of that myself when comparing suppliers’ offers. And also as a mentor to directors in small companies who were comparing proposals by new suppliers.
Money is an area where our lack of self-belief can let us down badly (it’s what prompted me a few years back to write a little e-book about it).
But appreciating your value is not just important for your own mindset and your confidence, it's good for the health of your business.
It comes across in your blog too! Being confident and 'bold for change' encourages and inspires other women to follow in your footsteps.
So every time you share your message believe in your self-worth. And be proud of your voice, especially in your blog!
You will inspire your readers or listeners and give them the ‘you can do it’ feeling that's so powerful.
Just because you can.