Women, This is YOUR Time to Create Your OWN Luck

By Diana Faison

It’s March – the month of March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day. And a time when we’re all aware that “a bit of luck” can go a long way. And to that I say – women stand up; this is your time to create your own luck!

Recently, I was re-reading HBR’s article “Women Rising: the Unseen Barriers”. The article’s authors Herminia Ibarra, Robin J. Ely and Deborah M. Kolb point out the inherent, but unintentional bias women face when attempting to be seen as strong leaders.  The article also notes that “people become leaders by internalizing a leadership identity and developing a sense of purpose.”  This requires not only taking action, but also attaching oneself to risky propositions – stretch opportunities, challenging assignments and “experiment[s] with unfamiliar behaviors.”  Those opportunities can often feel uncomfortable or perhaps just too much to take on right now – and women often choose not to take action. However, it is in that inaction – that complacency and comfort – that our careers stall.  When we stop taking chances, we stop creating our own luck, as well. And this inaction has bigger consequences, too – it invites others to make assumptions (right or wrong) about our ambition and desire for leadership opportunities.

When I begin a coaching program, I make a special point to have an initial conversation with each woman whom I am coaching.  My goal is to deeply understand deeply her respective objectives for the program and for our personal-work together.  In a recent coaching session, I noticed during these initial conversations that five of my seven women mentioned they were “happy” with their current role and level of leadership.  I heard comments like, “I do not want my boss’ job!”  OR “This is just not the right time for me to take on a different challenge.”  My personal favorite was, “Why would I rock the boat?  I have enough on my plate!”  To be honest, I heard more women who wanted to stay comfortable in their current state – than create their own luck and challenge all that they were capable of achieving.

As a firm, we like to challenge our women to think bigger and aim higher.  Here’s a great place to start – Close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving anything you want for yourself professionally.  Now, there are two conditions: First, you cannot remain in your current situation.  You must do something different and bigger.  And secondly: No matter what you choose to do, you cannot fail.   Now, what do you see?  What do you look like and what are you doing?  What is that secret career goal you haven’t told anyone?  What do you WANT for yourself?

As women, we often fall short of dreaming or even betting on ourselves.  So, what can you do to create momentum towards achieving your dreams?  In other words, how can you create your own luck?

Here are some key strategies to start thinking about how to create your own luck:

  1. Dream bigger and aim higher. We often are mired in our perception of reality and focus on what we cannot do.  If you cannot see it, you will never become it.  Go tell someone your secret career dream, and remember – play big, aim high.
  2. Take a chance on YOU. Explore outside your comfort zone. Maybe that means accepting that stretch assignment opportunity.  OR better yet – go ASK for that stretch assignment!
  3. Ask yourself: ‘What gives my life meaning and sense of purpose?’ Then, ask yourself: ‘What am I doing to address that purpose?’  If you struggle to answer either question, it’s time to go find that life meaning and sense of purpose.
  4. Create meaningful relationships. Research supports the idea that women are over mentored and under sponsored.  Create meaningful relationships by nurturing connections with men or women you admire and respect or with whom you want to work.  Reciprocate and offer your help.  Eventually, one or more of these people will become a sponsor for you and can open doors and opportunities.
  5. Act with courage! Just say yes. Trust yourself to know that you’ll figure out how   You are smart.  You are capable.  Take a leap of faith and take a chance on you.

In my most recent coaching session I discussed earlier, all of my women have been working on the above suggestions.  Five of the seven women have taken on new and challenging responsibilities, and two are up for significant promotions.

This work is driven by serious intention and focus.  These women are creating their own luck by challenging themselves to dream bigger and aim higher. And they’re stronger, female leaders for it.