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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

3 Things Holding You Back in the Workplace

Recently on Being Brown at Work Live, I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Geneva Williams. She's an award-winning nonprofit leader, author, and podcaster who advocates for women to live fit, fine, vibrant lives. She's a beautiful person inside and out, and I loved talking to her. Catch the podcast for the full conversation, but for now, enjoy some of the great pieces of wisdom she shared.

Why is it that the person most frequently getting in our way is our own selves? You'd think we'd be the last person to slow ourselves down, but our own issues are so often the cause of our "external" problems. I asked Dr. Williams what she thought were the biggest areas we as women can examine to stop getting in our own way, and I loved her response.

Not knowing your purpose.

Everyone has something that gets them out of bed in the morning, and even if you love your job, that thing is rarely work. Your job should be rewarding and give you positive feelings, but more often than not, our big-picture goals have nothing to do with an office. If you know your "why", you'll be able to show up for your career in a way you never could if you were just going in to climb the ladder and make money.

Sit down with a journal and a pen, or talk to a trusted friend or therapist to identify the big picture goals you have for your life. Maybe you want to give your family a great quality of life and retire early. Maybe you want to open your own business. Whatever it is, keep it in your mind and when you need guidance on a career decision, ask yourself if taking that job or leading that project will take you closer to your goals or not.

Not having confidence.

Negative self-talk, imposter syndrome, code switching: these are often symptoms of weak self-confidence. We compare ourselves to other people and find ourselves lacking, and as a result we show up at the workplace feeling insecure and out of place. Dr. Williams spoke about the importance of dismissing your self-doubt. That creeping, nagging voice seems to haunt us no matter how experienced or qualified we are, but if you work on your sense of self, strengthening your self-confidence, you'll find yourself believing in you as much as you hope your employees and managers believe in you.

When you hear that self-doubt come up, consciously redirect your thoughts. Dismiss your negative self-talk. Focus on something positive, or heck, put on a TV show to get your mind off it. Don't give it the power to keep you small.

Not recognizing your power as a woman.

There's a narrative out there that being a woman is a drawback in the workplace. I'm not here to tell you that we as women (especially as Black and Brown women) don't experience discrimination; we do. But I think a side effect of that narrative is a creeping erosion of our own innate powers as women. We have special gifts that are like superpowers in our everyday lives. Our power to make a difference, to raise children if we choose, to create impact and change. The world is huge. Women are powerful. Women are magic. Your femininity (however you express it) isn't a negative in the workplace, it's a strength. Think about your femininity and the ways it impacts your life. How does it make a positive difference? What does it mean to you?

If you want help identifying your own roadblocks, or you'd like a coach to guide you through the exercises in this blog post, let's talk. Click here to put a one on one with me on your calendar.

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