A female co-worker asked me today, “What does it take for a woman to get ahead? How did you get to where you are in business?”

This was an easy one for me to respond to, “It takes a lot of work and pushing and not giving up, and fighting and not backing down. It takes being a pitbull basically.” When I shared this concept with her, she said, “That’s hard to do, because most women don’t want to appear bitchy.”

Loosen Your Own Leash

This conversation struck a chord in me. Here this woman is bright, beautiful, talented and interested in advancing. And, while I don’t know what level she will rise to, I do know that what WON’T hold her back is her talent. This woman has everything it takes to get ahead. Yet, the only thing that could potentially hold her back is she herself.

Her decision to not want to appear a certain way, bitchy or otherwise, would be her only leash. She made another great comment to me that really resonated with me; she mentioned that when she moved into her new role – one that she did not have previous experience in – she felt like a fraud. In fact, she felt so much like a fraud that she let her husband know that she had a Plan B in line in case they discovered that she was not qualified for the job.

I Feel Like A Fraud

I find this interesting as this “fraud” epidemic has been admittedly alive and well in me throughout fleeting moments in my career. But, while it’s a trait that I’ve seen so often in women, I have YET to see it in a man.

Quite to the contrary, the men I work with feel the opposite way. If I’m interviewing a man on my team and he wants to advance without prior experience, he will simply use his prior success as the catalyst to determine that he WILL succeed in his new role. There is no big leap in his mind, it is a natural progression along his path to future success.

My Secret Is Out

Women often times don’t see this natural progression and instead feel afraid of being “found out.” Found out that they are not perfect, found out that they have commitments at home to their families, found out that they simply don’t have all the answers.

Conversely, I meet with men on my team that cant wait to share with me that they leave work early to coach their kid’s team and how it benefits the company because their “coaching” techniques are refined on the field and applied back in the workplace.

Let’s Put Things Into Perspective

Everything about how we approach things is in the perspective that we take and the lens in which we see things through. By making a definitive decision to no longer accept the idea that we are a fraud, but instead find a lens to look through that allows us to celebrate our unique and refreshing approach and skills instead, we will finally end this epidemic of holding ourselves back.

So, yes, I have been one of the “frauds” at different times in my career, but the difference with me is that I have been lucky enough to stop myself in that moment and reach out to someone in my life to remind me how I can see myself differently. Perspective is everything. And settling for a perspective that the opposite sex would never even consider is the fastest way to short-change ourselves professionally.

Let Us Be Frauds No More

Let us be “frauds no more” is my new mantra for the female faction. Let us embrace a refreshing new perspective, even if it’s sprinkled with a touch of testosterone here and there. Let us celebrate what is different and unique about us, and what makes us worthy of the opportunity in the first place. We rule the roost with no qualms, we learn as we go, we make executive decisions that are steadfast; this is life. No one knows everything. So, let’s be frauds no more with our careers and in the boardroom.