There are two things you can do with stories about successful women: 1. You can compare yourself to them and feel inadequate, or 2. You can think WOW look what they did, if they can do it so can I.
Another option Meredith C. Fineman talks about in her article in Fast Company is swim in your own lane and keep your eyes off what others are doing. Meredith is right, most of us are conditioned to compare and compete–making stories of others success seem to highlight our flaws and failures. And when we find ourselves in the mode of using other’s success to beat ourselves up and put into bold relief how far we have yet to go to meet our goals then focusing on our own next steps can keep us out of a spiral deathly to our business and our ambition.
However, I love Bob Proctor’s stories about how he thought being successful required being smart, having a good education, and having business experience. Bob became a multimillionaire in the early 60’s and he gleefully reminds people he wasn’t very smart, attended only a few months high school, had a bad attitude, and no business experience. Bob’s point is if he can do it so can you, so can I, so can anyone!
With that type of attitude, you can listen to success stories all day and instead of being deflated you can get completely inflated to greater and grander goals; because if they can do it so can you. The stories of success then become fuel for your inspiration to remember that other people are constantly breaking through barriers that seem insurmountable with much less going for them than you. Only after they have become successful do you see their brilliance.
It is amazing how much we overestimate other people’s capabilities and almost always underestimate our own. We always assume they are better, brighter, have connections we don’t, or some other list of attributes that make them seem more capable. Yet, when you get to know them you learn they have the same fears you do, they wondered if they had made the right choices, they struggled to stay positive.
Shakti Gawain, one of my early meditation teachers, told me something over 20 years ago that really stuck. You can only recognize things in another person you have in yourself, both bad and good. So when I start to admire someone in a way that makes me feel bad I remember her talking about this and I give myself an emotional hug and think, “Wow, I cannot wait to start showing this strength I haven’t yet known in me. It will be so useful.” From a place of knowing I have this power in myself, I can admire their accomplishments fully and celebrate their wins knowing full well by watching them I am learning a new skill at the same time!”