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Own Your Seat at the Table

Like many other women, I have learned a lot from Sheryl Sandberg and her acclaimed autobiography Lean In: Woman, Work, and the Will to Lead. A chapter that I have been reflecting a lot on lately is chapter 2, “Sit at the Table”. This chapter is all about women feeling as if they do not deserve what they are given, feel like imposters, and are fearful of risk-taking. After reading and re-reading this chapter, I have reflected on 3 things that we can do to follow Sandberg’s advice and not only sit at the table, but also own that seat!

Take Credit for your own Success

How often when we receive praise for our work do we push it aside, chalk our successes up to luck, or associate the positive outcome with some other circumstance? We have to stop doing this.

  • Accept the praise for your hard work. Smile and say “Thank you!” Nobody should ever feel bad for working hard.

  • Share moments you are proud of. It isn’t bragging if you simply want to express your positive feelings about something you have accomplished. Allow those close to you to be proud too.

  • Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. If you want that promotion, show that you deserve it. You know what you are capable of, now let others know too.

Own Your Space

Take a moment to think about how you are sitting or standing right now. Are your arms crossed? Are you pulling back? Where did you sit in your last meeting? It is okay to let others know that you are there. Your presence sends a powerful message so own it!

  • Choose a physical seat that puts you right in middle of whatever is going on. Never consciously choose to be an observer, choose to engage.

  • Physically lean into the conversation, push your shoulders back, spread your materials out, and let others see that you are there.

  • Your voice matters. Don’t let others interrupt you. They might have something important to say, but so do you. Make it clear that interruptions will not be tolerated but you will happily hear what they have to say after you are able to express your thoughts.

Take Risks

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” Sheryl Sandberg poses this question to her readers in Lean In. How often do you talk yourself out of doing something before you ever really give it a chance? More often then not we are capable of way more than we allow ourselves to try.

  • Make a list of your top 3 goals that you have been too afraid to accomplish.

  • Write down a strategy for achieving these goals and conquer the strategy in small steps.

  • Reflect back on you successes and failures in past goals. See where you can improve and embrace this moving forward.

These three thoughts may be general, but they are good starting points for us to consider where we currently “sit” at the table. As we push forward in our careers, it’s important for us to own who we are and credit ourselves for what we deserve. Don’t doubt what has been given to you, embrace it. By doing this we open ourselves up to more opportunities then ever before. “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.”

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