Leadership and Life Lesson: Don’t Deny The World Your Brilliance

Leadership and Life Lesson: Don’t Deny The World Your Brilliance

I recently had the good fortune to moderate a panel of four fabulous women leaders – Kirstine Stewart, the head of Twitter Canada, Olivia Chow, MP, Sara Plant, former CEO of BMO Trust Company, and Wendy Cukier, founder of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. These leaders each had unique perspectives and I had a fabulous time asking them questions and inviting the audience to engage them. (Thanks to Randstad for putting together a valuable event for Women Leaders, part of their Women Shaping Business series).

There were a few “a-ha” moments for me, some from Kirstine Stewart’s keynote prior to the panel discussion. One of the things that she shared that really stood out to me was the reframing of a common gremlin. There’s a hesitant, doubting, “they’re all going to laugh at you” type of gremlin that I think many of us face in our business lives. You know the one – it whispers to you in meetings “hmmm… that’s not a very good idea”, “what makes you think people want your input on this?”, “meh, not worth saying – other people have better ideas”…

I spent years trying to get past this little gremlin. In my mid-twenties, I was the only woman in leadership meetings with a team of men. I enjoyed the strategy and planning conversations we would have, I shared my thoughts when asked, but I spent a lot of time holding my ideas back, more often than not, only to have someone else bring the same idea forward to great approval. I listened to that trash-talking gremlin far too often.

I did get over that as I grew into my leadership, but when I think about the time I wasted worrying about what people might think of what I said or did, I know that it not only hurt me and my development, but it quite possibly hurt the company’s growth as well. Kirstine Stewart described this so brilliantly. She explained that she was a shy girl who had to get past this self doubt, and that she realized (I think someone pointed it out to her) that when she held back, she was actually denying others the great idea that she had.

What are you denying your colleagues? Your boss? Your family? Your friends? The world? Just because you’re worried it might make you look silly…?

I think we deny the world far too much. Don’t hesitate! Do it!!!

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