Have you ever watched a child get up on a stage and shrink away with fear? And have you noticed that everyone, not just his parents, encourages him, tells him how proud they are, that he is amazing?
And have you ever seen an adult, someone you know and admire, find herself in front of an audience and shrink away with fear? Become incapable of articulating what her business is all about? Completely freeze up?
It’s awkward, isn’t it?
Now ask yourself what you would do in that moment.
Do you use the same energy and offer the same encouragement to an adult as you would to a child? Do you tell her to be proud, to be confident?
Seeing someone in a vulnerable state, especially an adult, is awkward. We often feel so uncomfortable watching that we turn away. We try to avoid how it makes us feel.
But what you’re watching is something much worse than vulnerability. It’s called self-sabotage. And it happens often in business when someone cannot find the words, or the way, to tell you how great they are or the value they provide. And so instead, they struggle and say nothing. They shrink away.
While I love my peers who work for someone else in Corporate America, they simply cannot know what it is like to put yourself out there as a business owner. To try to get it right, to brand it right, to articulate it right – it is one of the most difficult things any of us do. And in my world, I have zero tolerance for anyone who doesn’t admire the courage and the vulnerability it takes to do that.
So if you see someone pulling back in a networking event or freezing up when someone asks her what she does, think about the children whom you encourage, and remember that she needs your help, too.
As women we need to stand up for, and with, one another.
Get out there and help her.
* Join our free community membership specifically designed for women business owners. You’ll connect with a community of dynamic women, across hundreds of industries – from food to fashion, fitness, technology, consumer goods, creative services – and more. https://hercorner.org/join
Frederique is the founder and CEO of Her Corner, a global peer-group community of women business owners committed to growth in their businesses.
Her Corner applies a systematic, process-based approach that includes business-driven agendas, carefully selected facilitators, and metrics-focused growth measures in order to give women the springboard they need to move forward.
Frederique holds an MBA from the Mason School of Business at the College of William and Mary and a BA in International and Russian Studies from Davidson College. She is a dual citizen of the United States and European Union, is fluent in English, French, and Spanish, and conversant in Russian and Italian.