Do not read, unless you were an insecure child

Commuting? Listen instead of reading it

Sometimes I wish I could be the strong woman I look like on the outside. I wish I could ask for what I deserve and not get left behind by the people who make their voice heard, because I know I can do more than they can.

I’m tired of asking myself “is this the right thing to do, is it the right time, is it the right place, etc.” a million times over, whenever I want to ask for something. The confident woman inside me says yes. I give myself a pep talk to get motivated enough to ask for what I deserve.

But when I’m actually there, in front of my boss, at the annual review, instead of the confident woman speaking, it’s the insecure child who takes over. And I forget everything I told myself an hour ago.

The shy child steps in and the confident woman vanishes. I end up asking for 5% more, with a tiny voice, acknowledging all the things I need to improve and avoiding eye contact (ha! if I were that strong woman, I’d remember the ten goals I reached instead of two improvement points).

And my voice… it sounds so soft and whispery, it’s almost impossible to hear. The woman – completely gone. It felt like I was being scolded by my father and I had just admitted to breaking the living room vase. Unbelievable!

Then, I finally get out of the office, feeling as weak as a marshmallow, only bitter instead of sweet. I go to the restroom and I want to slap myself. I know now what I should’ve said to my boss. But where were you 5 minutes ago, confident woman voice?

I lock myself in the stall and start to cry, because I didn’t get the promotion or the raise I wanted – again. I open my pack of Kleenex – loudly. Thank goodness no one else is in here. I was such an idiot. How did I do this again? How is Ben better than me? He just has a big mouth and speaks his mind without thinking and I’m too nervous to say I want that 10% raise, that I deserve!

So, the 5% I got, is HALF of what I deserve! I just sold myself for half the price, even though I work twice as much as anyone else.

Someone’s coming in. I’d better get myself together. I dry my tears. I wipe the smeared mascara from under my eyes and open the door, avoiding eye contact with my colleague, who just came in. Staring at the floor, I try so hard to be the superwoman inside of me while leaving the restroom.

Of course, they can probably see I’ve been crying, but I won’t admit it. I’m so good at playing superwoman – I go back to my office where my colleagues are, sit in front of my computer and promise myself I’ll work even harder, so I can ask for the raise I deserve next year.

And the shy kid inside me is sighing: Will you actually be strong enough to do it?

This is a letter I received a few days ago from one of my clients.

My client, let’s call her Maria, is a confident, beautiful woman and she has a lovely family.

She is a highly-skilled professional – one of the most capable people I know.

She is a professional superwoman.

If I hadn’t shared this letter with you and you saw her, you would never suspect that she feels this way.

Because superwomen don’t show their weaknesses.

But, superwomen (and supermen) were insecure children when they were little.


How could these confident professionals have been insecure children?

And why does this matter?

It does.

A lot.

What I’m about to say may sound “stupid”… (bear with me!)

All highly-skilled professionals were insecure children when they were little

Ok, maybe not all of them. 90% :))

But what’s more important…

…is that their insecurity from childhood never disappeared.

It just changed its form.

Here’s why…

When you are little and you feel insecure, you tend to worry a lot.

Because you worried a lot, you prepared at least twice as much as the other kids.

Just to make sure you wouldn’t fail.

Just to make sure you wouldn’t disappoint your Mom and Dad (and then not be loved by them).

Now, you’re an adult and most probably you are the most qualified person in the room.

Sometimes you are tired of being the best

Sometimes you’d like the others around you, to do what you do. You wish they could spot mistakes as you do, walk the extra mile as you do, and generally do whatever it takes to get the job done right.

But they don’t.

Because you surround yourself with people who are a lot less capable or just junior staff who don’t yet know enough.

When you hired them, you knew they were not 100% up for the job.

But you said to yourself that you’d teach them, you’d help them grow.

So now, you spend a lot of time doing their job, training them and managing them.

No wonder you work twice as much as other people.

This is what I call the “Superwoman Effect”.

And it works for “Supermen” too.

Remember the insecure Clark Kent? He’s just the opposite of the confident Superman.

So, you may be superwoman or superman… in your profession

And yet, you don’t feel comfortable enough to go out and sell or ask for the money that you deserve.

If someone else could do the sales & marketing for you, you’d be the happiest person ever.

If you didn’t have to negotiate…

If people could just see the value you bring and pay you more, your life would be so much easier.

Because let’s be honest… these things are an important part of the job. And they’re not easy!

Speaking of not easy…

Your “favorite” part of the job is confronting others. NOT!

You’d do anything to avoid a conflict.

Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid conflict and when you can’t hold the tension in anymore, you blow up. And then you feel so bad afterward.

This also affects your intimate relationship

Because, most times, you don’t ask directly for what you want.

If you’re with your partner driving on a highway and you need to go to the bathroom, you’re probably not going to say what you want.

Instead, you may say “honey, would you like to stop and take a break?”

And this is just a very tiny example.

And not asking for what you want while expecting the other person to read your mind can lead to a lot of frustration.

But let me get to the point, because I’m all fired up about this now and I’m afraid this rant might go on too long! :))

In a nutshell, an insecure child becomes a very competent adult:

    • usually the most qualified person in the room
    • they surround them self with juniors or people less skilled than they are
    • are perfectionists – don’t allow them self to make ANY mistakes
    • work much more than everybody else and feel overwhelmed
    • won’t ask for what’s theirs (or asks too late)
    • hate negotiating or asking for more money
    • feel sales & marketing is a heavy burden (and would happily delegate it)
    • genuinely care about other people

Now, I’d like to hear from you

Please just reply to this email and write me a little note.

Did you feel insecure when you were a child?

How many of the “symptoms” above do you have?

What is the most annoying thing for you now, that you’d like to change?

Looking forward to reading your email!



P.S. In my next email I will share something I’ve never told anyone. I normally don’t speak about this. I prefer having other people tell me about their fears and their hopes. But this time I’m doing something different.

Until then, please write me a note about what I said above and how it fits into your experience.

The Institute for Influence is a private educational organization founded by Shelle Rose Charvet, summarizing over 30 years of experience in human relationships, motivation, and team productivity.

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