We all like to think that what we say outwardly is exactly what we do privately, even when no one is watching. Indeed, “what you see is what you get” is a phrase that most of us will happily wear on our t -shirts. In reality though, we tend to fall prey to the “Do as I say, but not as I do”syndrome. Here are two examples of what this syndrome looks like in action.
The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, last week issued “heartfelt apologies for any offence caused” for saying that a woman could not do his job because “it is a very challenging position”. Such a statement in our current climate of gender equality in the workplace was ill- judged. However in the comforts of our own homes and the recesses of our thoughts, what statements do we make to ourselves about our abilities, skills and capabilities ?
- “I can’t possibly do that job?”
- “I am not clever enough?”
- “That’s not a job for a nice girl like me?”.
- “Boys are better at maths, science, engineering, technology?”.
- “Girls like me are better off sticking to the arts?”
In July 2017, BBC actor Tom Chambers, was verbally crucified at the height of the BBC pay gender disparity scandal, for comments in which he appeared to support men being paid more than women because they had families to support. He was reportedly “mortified” at the backlash and claimed that his remarks were taken out of context. And yet what conversations do we women have with ourselves when it comes to pay negotiations – either when we are starting a new job, a new contract or when going through the appraisal and pay / bonus review processes at work? Be honest, when was the last time you dared to boldly negotiate for the numeration you want instead of settling for what you think that you are more likely to get?
We never grow beyond our self- image of ourselves. Indeed whatever self-image we have of ourselves feeds our thoughts and enables everything from how we behave, what we feel we can achieve and ultimately what we actually do achieve.
The strangest secret is that we become what we think. So, whereas the court of public opinion can shame people into apologies for voicing out their thoughts at the time, what about what we really and honestly think about ourselves? What do such thoughts say about us, our goals, our dreams and our motivation to achieve BIG successes that matter to us? Who is shaming us?
We all carry conscious or unconscious biases about ourselves. When was the last time you were honest with yourself about your thoughts and your self-talks, and about the impact that such thoughts and beliefs are having on you? For the next 14 days, why not consciously jot down all the conversations that you have with yourself – both negative and positive. At the end of it, review your entries. Did you give yourself more positive, uplifting support during this time or was your self-talk more skewed towards the type of things that would make you hopping mad if you heard it coming from the mouth of somebody else? If the former, well done. Keep up the good work and absolutely continue to call out anyone who dares to diminish you with their unconscious and unhelpful biases. If, however your thoughts and self – talk belong to the latter category, its time you transferred your moral outrage to yourself and divest yourself of your “do as I do and not as I say” illness. Why? Because you already have too many obstacles in your path without adding your two pennies’ worth. Learn to give yourself better, more inspiring, uplifting and purposeful self-talks. Or invest in a coach or a mentor to help you build a higher self -image.
I repeat: we never grow beyond our self-image. How we see ourselves is our own internal glass ceiling. This can hold us down or elevate us. What is your self – image? Are you happy with it? How limiting or empowering is it? One of my easiest tips to quickly gauge the size and dept of self – image is to pay attention the next time you find yourself being morally outraged or offended about something that someone who should know better has said, and then ask yourself:
- What nerve has this person’s statement touched in me?
- Why is this a sore point for me and what does this tell me about the disconnect between what I think and what I do …or don’t do?
- What do I need to change in myself before I can hope to change in others?