When someone uses the word brave the images that immediately come to my mind are soldiers fighting on the front line or people battling illness. So when I recount the story of the last year of my life and people use the word brave to describe it, it never used to ring true.
I was the Manager of a £4 million turnover company and was responsible for 60 employees. When I got the promotion to this position aged 32 I was proud that my 8 years hard work beforehand climbing the career ladder had finally paid off but with the promotion came change. The people in my office quickly went from co-workers and friends to employees, the expectations from my bosses rose and with the title, pay rise and company car, things turned to misery.
Out of those 60 employees only 2 were women. As a woman I had always loved working in a male dominated industry and I was never one to agree that it was any different to being a man in my role. However things changed as soon as I became the boss! I would love to say that the 58 men I had worked with for years didn't treat me any differently as a boss than they had my male predecessor but I would be lying. Everything had changed. While I knew there was nothing I could do about changing other people's thoughts or views what seemed to be affecting me more was my own self belief.
I was always a confident, happy, hard working employee but once I started in my managerial role all my confidence went and I started to doubt my ability. As much as I could look rationally at the situation and say my boss wouldn't have given me this chance if he didn't think I could do it, everything inside of me was telling me the opposite. I had been fighting for years against people telling me that a woman wouldn't make it in this position and for once I had started to believe them.
One day one of my best employees handed in his resignation and that was a turning point for me. I was more convinced than ever that if I was any good at my job or if I had created a team he wanted to be a part of, he wouldn't be leaving. While I was at my lowest point a friend recommended I speak to a coach she had been using to help her. I was willing to try anything and so desperately wanted to be great at my job. Through working with my coach I discovered something life changing. I actually had the skills, ability and potential to be amazing at my job but something was still holding me back from being happy.
A few months later I handed in my resignation too. I had no new job to go to, I didn't even have a plan but something was screaming inside me saying this wasn't right, I shouldn't stick with being miserable, I should take a leap. Apart from my partner and my coach, I told no-one I was going to quit my job. I started to predict how my friends and family would react. Would they think I was a failure or that I was stupid for throwing away such a great job? Actually they all sighed with the same relief as they knew this was the right decision for me.
When I look back now I can so clearly see what was wrong. Yes there were people that made things difficult, yes there were situations I was dealing with that I didn't have the experience for, but deep down the real issue was I wasn't being true to who I was. The minute I started being a "manager" I stopped being me. I wanted to be all the things I thought a manager should be - top of my list was being a man!
Once I left that job I started to let myself be me again and looking back I had so much to offer that role and that company that I just wouldn't allow myself to give. I wanted to achieve so many goals , I just didn't have the belief in myself or the support around me to make it happen. If I'd known then what I now know about myself, I would have done things differently. I would have stopped trying to be a carbon copy of every previous successful manager and just been me. I would have stood up for what I believed was right and made the changes I knew needed to happen instead of hiding away and never achieving what I had dreamed might be possible during those years on the way to the top.
Now as a coach myself I get to see amazing women realising their potential, achieving their goals and living their dreams whether that be making a career change, making a difference working in a male dominated industry or taking a leap and setting up their own businesses. I know first hand with the right support anything is possible and with a true belief that you are amazing just as you are, you can achieve your dreams. I also know that next time anyone tells me I was brave in my decision I will just smile and say thank you.
Gail Butt is a personal development coach empowering women to take charge of their lives and make changes in areas such as career, relationships and general wellbeing. Using a combination of coaching tools and NLP, Gail works with women moving careers or setting up their own businesses and she is now developing her support of women working within male dominated industries. You can connect with Gail through The Coaching Academy LinkedIn group.
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Tags:promotion coaching self-belief happiness potential goals personal development career relationships wellbeing NLP women
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