Six ways you may be holding yourself back

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My discovery calls with men often involve objections related to my qualifications, why I think my skills and programs are superior to an alternative, what kinds of results I can get. 

Discovery calls with women are often them telling me why they’re not qualified, ready, or capable. That whatever service or program we’re talking about isn’t going to be a fit because they’re the problem. 

We were reflecting on these objections in a recent marketing meeting and decided, why not have a conversation about it? We identified the six areas below as common areas where we see CEO / Founders limiting their own growth. 

I don’t meet 100% of the criteria, so it’s not for me.

I can’t tell you how many people I directly approached to join the Community who told me they weren’t qualified, often picking one specific criterion as evidence. I’m the person who decides who’s qualified, mind you, yet several people emphatically told me why I was wrong. 

We typically list “who it’s for” on sales pages as self-inclusive criteria. I find too often that women use these lists as Reasons Why Not. I’ll get on a discovery call with someone and they’ll immediately say, “I don’t think I’m ready for you yet.” Sometimes that means they’re wary that I’m going to bully them with a sales pitch, but more often, it’s an earnest bit of self-judgment.

We look for the reason we’re not qualified instead of the many reasons we are. When someone says, ‘I think you should apply,” our first instinct is to un-convince them.

Start with this assumption: if someone with decision making authority thinks you’re qualified, you are. You’re probably overqualified. They’re bringing it up because the role or organization would be fortunate to have you. Ask, sign up, or go ahead and apply. Didn’t get it the first time? Make your case, try again.

I didn’t finish the last thing so I can’t start something new.

We’ve all signed up for courses and digital learning programs where the creator wanted to deliver so much value that they created a new job for us. You just wanted to build a list or get a PR strategy, and suddenly you’re in the third hour of videos solving the crisis communications of a 5,000-employee company.

You’re stuck. You ran out of time and didn’t finish the program. And you have to finish what you start, right? 

Let’s talk about sunk costs. Sunk costs are an economic term for money that has been spent and can’t be recovered. The Sunk Cost Fallacy is a mistake many of us make – that after we put resources into something to start, we need to continue investing, regardless of whether it’s working for us. 

Nope! Make like Elsa and let it go. You spent what you spent. It wasn’t what you thought it was. Don’t throw more time or money at it. 

I give you permission today to move on from any unfinished program or course. At least half the time you were set up to fail in the name of “providing value.” It doesn’t say anything about your character. 

I didn’t do all the work, I need to stay at this level.

Look, as someone who read all the supplemental material on the syllabus then went into the stacks to find stuff from the bibliography, I strongly relate. I like to do all the work. 

Sometimes in business that’s warranted, but most of the time, it’s not. 

You can read just the chapter or even page of the book that addresses what you want to know. You can buy a whole magazine and just read just the one article that interests you. You can leave the webinar after your question is answered.

You’re not a student, this isn’t a graded activity. Did you get what you wanted out of it? If you didn’t, and you want to, block some time and finish. If that’s never going to happen, high five yourself for the earnest attempt and move on. 

This isn’t going well, I’m not good at it. 

Nobody is good at all the things it takes to run a company. Give yourself some grace, especially if it’s something that has to be done and you don’t yet have the resources to hire someone else to do it. Do your best under your very realistic circumstances.

Identify the things that you hate with the passion of 10,000 burning suns. Delegate them or figure out if you really have to do them. Then go to the things you hate with the passion of 9,999 burning suns. Someday, you will reach Zero Burning Suns on the Wall. But it’s a process. 

Try to spend a little more time every day on things you love and a little less on stuff you hate. But don’t assume you’re bad at being a CEO/founder. Give yourself space to learn. The entire job is about living in some amount of discomfort. That’s actually your job — finding the functional space somewhere between “My tummy’s a bit off” and “I’m going to hurl imminently.”  

It’s too early. / It’s too late.

Last fall, I was invited to join a women’s mastermind. About half of the content was stuff I already knew, yet many of the participants were much further along in their entrepreneurship journey. I debated: am I too early for this? Am I too late for this? Am I going to get enough out of this investment?

But those weren’t the real questions. I ultimately had to think, does this solve for the areas I know are on my learning journey as a CEO? Are these women I want to have in my life? Am I willing to contribute enough of myself to make this happen?

Sometimes we optimize too much. We want the Goldilocks just right solution. So we stay stuck until a perfect solution — just the right timing, price, content, comfort level — presents itself.

Maybe you don’t know for sure when you’ll hire your first employee, but you know that you will have one. Or maybe you’re not ready to hire an accountant or bookkeeper, yet you don’t really understand how your financials work. Should you wait to start learning about those areas of business until you’re ready? Until you’ve already tried and failed and are in pain?

Likewise, if you already feel satisfied you know some of the things, but at least half are areas you’d still like to learn, and it accelerates your path, you’re not “wasting” money. 

Am I ready for this?

Short answer: you’re not. Entrepreneurship is a high-endurance escape room challenge. Do it anyway. 

If you look for the reasons not to do something, you’ll find them. It’s a fine line between thinking critically and putting every idea in a vice to apply maximum crush pressure. 

I think this particularly applies to having children. But also starting companies. Was I wise to do these concurrently? Doesn’t matter, no more appealing options presented themselves.. I’m sure there was a way to do this better, more efficiently, and with more grace. And yet seven and a half years later, we are all alive, housed, fed, and in decent health, minus this year’s endless run of snot-filled sick days.

So no, you’re not ready. And you should do it anyway, because you’re as ready as you’re going to be. 

In conclusion, go for it. 

You are the right person to start and run your company. You are uniquely prepared. Nobody’s grading you. You’ve figured out other hard things, you’ll solve this, too. If you want it, go for it. Do your best, ask for help, and reach out to people who’ve been there before.

Here are 53 songs to kickstart your journey.

Feeling overwhelmed by running your company? Join our next cohort of self-funded women and femme business owners in my 8-week intensive, Founder to CEO. This is not a “course” – you have enough stuff to do. Join the live weekly guided sessions to learn with other CEOs and get stuff done. Learn more about Founder to CEO here: 

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