I have the pleasure of working with beautiful, smart, highly educated, hard-working, amazing women from all walks of life. What’s interesting to me is that although many of them have never met, they all encounter similar barriers to advancing their career. Rockefeller Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation conducted a survey of women from 19 countries indicating the following as the top 5 challenges women face in the workplace:
• Equal pay (58%)
• Harassment (61% say they never or rarely report it)
• Career opportunities (47% believe men have more access to professional development and career growth opportunities)
• Having children while building a career (47%; we’ll talk about how women settle with “or” vs “and” in a future article)
• Work-life balance (44%)
Although I’m familiar with this list, I’m surprised confidence didn’t make the cut. Every woman has or is struggling with self-esteem and/or self-worth which will always impact professional progress. With all due respect, I believe our obstacles as women are compounded by and are a direct reflection of our innermost thoughts. We allow the “inner critic” to magnify our limitations, we then own the negative thought or perception as truth which subconsciously sabotages our success. For example, Mariah Carey has 20 World Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, 32 Billboard Awards, 5 Grammys is an accomplished artist in her own right. Earlier this week I read an article where she disclosed her struggles with low self-esteem. Even the lovely, talented Issa Rae known as the “Awkward Black Girl” has a HBO series called (of all things) Insecure! Women struggle with confidence and we carry this enormous burden to work.
My challenge to you: build yourself by counteracting your inner critic, choose to increase your confidence, make power moves and PLAY BIGGER as it pertains to your career.

Here’s the antithesis of building yourself:
• I’m not smart enough
• I’m not small enough
• I’m not ready
• I’m overqualified
• I’m under qualified
• I don’t have what it takes
• I might fail
• Any and every time you default to a flaw, critical mindset, a mistake, a perceived weakness or shortcoming instead of operating from your strengths

In no way am I suggesting a lack of accountability nor am I suggesting you avoid areas that need to improve. I’m simply encouraging you to become your best advocate, to know that your authenticity is your competitive advantage and that yes, you are good enough. Forgive me, you’re GREAT enough! You have everything you need to begin where you are; to define professional success on your terms – TODAY! Although you’ll encounter barriers throughout your career, the one obstacle that you have 100% control over is your confidence.
• Make a list; number it from 1 to 10. Write down 5 accomplishments or successes from 2017 followed by 5 of your strengths
• Write down your short-term career goal (6 months)…and make it a power move that stretches beyond your comfort zone
• Write down the biggest obstacle hindering career progression followed by “I won’t be stopped, deterred or denied because I believe I can accomplish my goal(s).”
• Take action
I’d love to hear about your short-term career goals [share here]!! I’ll share my goal with you as well. I’ve decided to play bigger; not because I’m perfect but because I believe in myself and that my career dreams are possible.
Ericka Spradley, President of My Next Level ensures ambitious professionals and students get hired. As a Career Coach, Adjunct Professor and Author (“30 Min. Career Coach: Interview Basics for High School Students”, “7 Days to Confident Interviews”), she empowers others to take their interviewing skills to the next level so they can ultimately secure employment. Ericka also provides career support/guidance for clients when she’s not working tirelessly to change the career readiness conversation and course curriculum to include interviewing skills. To download your complimentary copy of “5 Simple Strategies to Land Your Ideal Job” [click here]