March is Women’s History Month, a time to honor women’s contributions in American History. Each year the National Women’s History Alliance determines a theme and this year it’s Celebrating the Women Who Tell Our Stories. The theme likely calls to mind images of perfectly put together news anchors and intrepid journalists but the reality is each and every woman has a story to tell.
In honor of the Women’s History Month 2023 theme, we want to shift the focus to the women out there living their stories and offer 6 tips to help you amplify your voice as a woman.
Confidence can sometimes be tricky to master but the secret to confidence is you don’t actually have to be confident, you just need to project confidence. That old adage “fake it until you make it” applies here. Giving off the impression of confidence is the first step towards actually feeling confident. Things like making eye contact, standing up tall, projecting your voice, and respectfully asserting yourself can make a great difference in how your message comes across. Offering your point of view looks different when you share it a little too quietly or when it sounds like a question because you’re unsure of yourself. Stand tall and proudly share your perspective. The more you get used to radiating confidence, the more it will come naturally to you.
Learn from your mistakes
31% of adults reported suffering from a fear of failure– a larger percentage than those who feared spiders. So often the fear of failure holds people back from speaking up, trying something new or reaching their goals. In reality, failure is a stepping stone to success. It can help you learn how to be the best version of yourself. The people who focus on the lesson learned when making a mistake instead of the mistake itself are on the path to success. Learning what doesn’t work helps inform your decision as you move forward and allows you to improve. Being willing to fail and learn from your mistakes opens the door for so much possibility. Don’t be afraid to speak up and be wrong because it’s part of your success journey.
Step outside of your comfort zone
In the same way that making mistakes is an opportunity of growth, getting outside of your comfort zone leads to growth. Make a conscious effort to regularly do the things that feel intimidating in the name of your success. Try things like attending a conference to grow your skills, boldly introducing yourself to someone, seeking out new skills to learn, making time to meditate, or traveling somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Then, share what you learned with others. You’ll not only stretch your mind but you’ll grow your abilities and your confidence in the process.
Ask for help
Asking for help seems like an easy task but the reality is 3 in 4 people don’t ask for help unless they absolutely need it. It can feel like asking for help gives off the impression you’re incompetent or you’re admitting defeat. What it actually does is show off a willingness to learn and grow. Operating with the mindset that there’s always something to learn from someone else means you’re open to growing yourself and your skills and that’s what comes across. No one person has skills in every area or knows everything. Sharing knowledge and resources is how we all succeed.
Never apologize for speaking up for yourself
A lot of us are all too familiar with the phrase “I’m sorry.” We might say it before we even realize we’ve said it because we apologize on autopilot. In fact, women are 81% more likely to apologize than men. There are always legitimate reasons to apologize to someone but challenge yourself to save your sorries for those moments where they really matter. Apologizing for speaking up, having a contrary idea, or sharing a different point of view can hold you back. Your opinions, thoughts, and perspective matter and you shouldn’t have to justify speaking up.
Tell your story and connect with others
Connection plays a key role in success. Networking gives you the opportunity to learn from others and share your story. It’s likely your story has something to teach someone else. Whether you find a group to connect with in person or you’re able to virtually connect with others, having a network of people to support and be supported by is a powerful asset. You can always check out a networking group like Valley’s Women in Business program if you aren’t sure where to start.
Remember, your story matters. Big or small, each and every contribution matters in advancing women forward. Don’t hesitate to share your story this year during Women’s History Month.