We can be our own worse critics and toughest judge. And when it comes to opportunities, we often count ourselves out before even giving ourselves the opportunity to truly consider the possibility of success. I know many of us have heard the statistics about how women approach opportunities, only applying for those in which they feel they are a slam dunk.
The numbers com from Hewlett Packard after the company decided to do a deep dive into why there was a lack of women in top management. The internal report indicated that on average men apply for roles where they meet 60% of the stated requirements, while women will only apply if they meet 100% of those requirements. I have talked to so many women, and time and time again I hear them speak of opportunities they did not pursue because they weren't qualified. But studies continue to show that our definition of qualified is so much higher than our male counterparts. I began to see that often it wasn't organizations or hiring managers that were in the way of us progressing; sometimes it was us. Often that next best thing is ripe and ready for us to pick but we choose to leave it on the tree because we've convinced ourselves that we aren't qualified. That we are not enough.
Some time back I was approached about a senior leadership role and before I even looked at the description of the role or any of the skills or requirements that the organization prioritized, I told myself I wasn't qualified. I made that decision based solely on the title of the role, the seniority of the role, and because I didn't think I was 'ready' for that level of role. As I read through the job posting I noticed that not only did I have the skills and qualifications but a lot of what they listed as preferred I also had. There was something much deeper happening than simply looking at a list of requirements and checking them off. Psychologically I had already determined what I was capable of regardless of the facts.
A light bulb went off for me in that moment. I understood that these thoughts of inadequacy which are placed on us by society make their way into our own psyches. Can you say imposter syndrome? I was shortchanging myself and minimizing all the work and expertise that comes along with me. I was telling myself No. When I should have been saying Yes. I was buying into an idea that I was less qualified, less worthy of opportunity, and with less potential all because I'm a Black woman.
So today I want to encourage everyone out there who is telling themselves no or questioning if they are enough, to STOP! You are qualified. You are enough. And you, yes you, have the potential to be even greater than you are today.