Why success for women means leaning on other women
You’ve probably heard the term self-made millionaire before. Personally, I’ve never really identified with that statement or even understood it.
If you’re going to make a million dollars or more on a consistent basis, there’s no way you’re doing it on your own. At the very least, you’re relying on other people in busi-ness, customers, employees, investors, and more. Without those folks, you’re going nowhere!
Usually, when people use the term self-made, I think they are saying that nobody gave them a helping hand or a silver spoon. It’s a shorthand way of saying they had to do the hard work of coming up from the bottom. But it really is a misnomer because rare-ly does that actually happen without the help of others.
For women, this is especially important to understand. Because we’ve been marginal-ized for so long from the world of money, it’s even harder to clearly see the path you should take to financial freedom and success. So, it becomes essential to “lean on” other women as Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said in an interview on Business Insider.
As Sandberg says, “"When you look at successful women, they have other women who have supported them, and they've gotten to where they are because of those wom-en.”
This is an important truth. Often there is a perception that women don’t help other women. Marianne Cooper, writing for The Atlantic, shares some interesting research into the Righteous Woman and the Queen Bee mentalities. She contrasts women who live out Madeleine Albright’s, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” and women who seem like they live to undermine young women coming up from behind them. Cooper concludes that, “The point is, it’s not the case that women are inherently catty. Instead, Queen Bee behaviors are triggered in male dominated environments in which women are devalued.”
She goes on to say that, “There is plenty of evidence to show that women do indeed support one another. When women work with a higher percentage of women they experience lower levels of gender discrimination and harassment. When women have female supervisors, they report receiving more family and organizational support than when they have male supervisors. And a preponderance of studies show that when more women are in management positions, the gender pay gap is smaller”
While Cooper might hit on some reasons why this type of help doesn’t happen as of-ten as it should, I think there’s a much more fundamental reason that has less to do with other women and more to do with ourselves. Sandberg hinted on it when she said that women need “to reach out to other women and ask for support, rather than hide behind false confidence and a sense of needing to be the perfect professional."
In short, we’re often either too proud or too scared to simply ask other successful women for help. No matter the root cause, this inability to simply ask for help is often our demise. Will there be rejection? Sometimes, but not all the time. Ask enough, and you’ll find those “Righteous Women” who do want to help. And you’ll be much better off for it.
Today, start thinking about who you can reach out to for help. Then make a plan to get over your fear or pride and simply ask for that help. Because we all need somebody.