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Superwoman not to the rescue

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Superwoman not to the rescue

Superwoman not to the rescue

Are you prone to “superwoman syndrome?”

It is a way of looking at the world that is just short of perfect.  It starts with the positive attitude that you can do anything you set your mind to–with intention and determination. It is the perfect recipe for success and I coach people to believe this about themselves–weekly, if not more often.

However, it comes with one slight flaw–especially when women apply this philosphy. There is a tag-along belief many women have, “If I do not push through and do everything, using my intention and determination, I am a failure.”

In her Politics of Promotion blog, Bonnie Marcus states, “Determined and passionate, I always had the energy to power through any obstacle…that is, until I periodically dropped of exhaustion.”


Superwoman syndrom comes from a few unconscious beliefs you should be warry of:

  • Fear of failure
  • Assuming serving others has to be at the expense of yourself
  • Inability to ask for help and support
  • Unwillingness to say no

Mary Pritchard writes in Huffinton Post,I was taught that life was about being of service to others — at expense to yourself. That’s how you prove your worth, your value.”

When I coach women entrepreneurs these four things are high on my radar to watch for and shift in their mindset. In my Three Keys to Success recorded training I discuss one of the main things that separate successful and unsuccessful people is the ability to take a leap of faith–fear of failure being a leading cause.

As women, our inability to ask for help and exhausting ourselves to serve others as a noble act puts us at risk of both professional failure and deep personal dissatisfaction with our lives. Perhaps we fear being called a bitch if we do not say yes. Anne Moore, former CEO and Chairwoman of Time, Inc, gave me one of the best pieces of advise I ever heard a few years back at a Harvard women’s event.  Her words were “No is a complete sentence.”  I recommend you memorize that and use it.

Just this past week I had an opportunity to push through, and chose to take care of myself–extending the deadline I had set and rescheduling the people involved.  While I debated moving everyone else’s schedule to give myself breathing room, the voices in my head got very loud!  “You can’t do this.”  “Everyone else has arranged their schedule around this timeline.” “Only weak people and failures don’t meet their commitments.” “So what if you stay up to 2 am a few nights to get it done–you’ve done that before.” “This delay could cost you a lot.” “Stop complaining and just do it.”

Yet, listening to my inner guide I knew by slowing down my clients would get a better product and I would maintain better health. But that knowing was not near as loud as these old voices. I listened to my intuition and rescheduled. It wasn’t easy, but everyone got over it a lot faster than the hours of debate I had created.

What surprised me was how empowered I felt by acting as my own champion.  Rather than feeling disempowered and a failure, I actually was enlivened and more motivated. I highly recommend you learn to set your own boundaries, include your needs in your commitments, and become your own champion.

In The Bitch, the Crone, and the Harlot, Susan Schacterle defines a bitch as:

A positive archetype of a Bitch at midlife is that of a woman who has become so comfortable with who she is that she doesn’t hesitate to take appropriate action in any situation. Her actions are no longer so governed by what others think, but rather by what she knows to be true. This is a woman whose intuition is so well-developed that she knows in her gut what to do. Part of her personal mission is to perform actions that are shaped by integrity, insight, and compassion. This woman can make things happen anywhere but, unlike the street-defined bitch, there is no selfishness, no unkindness about her; she takes action and creates results that are the highest and best for everyone involved, within a framework of wisdom and love.”

With this definition in mind, I think I will develop myself in this area of becoming a bitch!  How about you?


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