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Women Are Powerful Beyond Measure

by Donna S. Highfill 

Power is rarely lost in one moment – it recedes in tiny increments, when we accept the small stories that others tell us.

We are strong and smart.

woman on top of the earth with cape cropped and resizedI read a quote recently that stated, Tell a little girl she’s beautiful and she’ll relish the moment, but tell her she’s ugly and she’ll remember it for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, women are remarkably prone to comments about their outward appearance. When my kids were little, people would meet them and say things to my son like –

You are such a strong little boy! I bet you’re smart.

Then they would look at my daughter and say things such as –

You are a pretty little girl. Your hair is just beautiful.

At this moment, I would tend to puff up like a blowfish and reply –

She’s smart, too. My daughter is strong AND smart.

Then I would tell my daughter that she just needs to feel beautiful inside. People will always have opinions about her beauty, and beauty comes and goes. But strong and smart? That sticks.

Power requires the editing of others’ stories.

Too often, we pay attention to the personal attacks of others. We forget that the negative comment thrown our way is defensive, a mere reflection of the commenter’s own pain.

I remember one woman who scowled during an entire Leadership session I delivered. I use a lot of humor in my training, and by the look on her face it seemed to give her gas.

After the session, she came up to me and said with gritted teeth, “You know what? You’re just a comedian.”

The blow to my psyche went straight through my heart, and I spent a month preparing a very serious next session. And it bombed because I accepted her story and stopped telling my own.

To be honest, my inclination was to wallop her. But I didn’t. Instead I let her pain become my pain.

Women are allowed to make mistakes.

Somewhere along the way we have been told that making a mistake is an unpardonable sin. I have been observing women in the workplace for several decades, and the fear of making a mistake is palpable.

In meetings, we offer tentative comments, or raise our hands hoping to be called on while men interrupt each other and discuss a topic vigorously. When we do finally speak, it’s often replete with a preamble that sounds something like 0, um, this might not be relevant, and I’m not even sure I should bring it up, but . . .

Geez, I am all ears. Can’t wait to hear the comment following that lead in, right? Most of the time the thought is extremely relevant and important, but because it is said tentatively, a man will restate it in about two minutes and get all sorts of praise for it.

There is power in letting other peoples’ painful stories about you roll off your back.

Perhaps we need to remember ourselves as the young girl we once were, the young girl who fell off tricycles and ran through fields and celebrated wins. We need to feel those days when we didn’t believe that being a girl meant being less powerful.

Let go of our deepest fear.

Sometimes I think we hold back as women because we know our own strength. Marianne Williamson says it best –

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

So take off the cloak of negative comments and let your power fly.

Take a chance. Speak up without apology. Smile at the person critiquing you, and appreciate their comment, but don’t absorb anything that isn’t helpful.

Be bright. Be light. Be strong.

Live your own story.


About Donna Highfill

Donna HighfillAs the chief energizer of Donna Highfill Consulting, Donna helps organizations and professionals power up their stories and strategies for powerful results.  Author of Real People, Real Change, Stories of a Change Warrior in the Business World she has implemented and infused with energy key change strategies for Fortune 500 companies, including coaching senior leaders. She is a regular blogger at Huffington Post who uses humor to address tough topics, and has been published in dozens of publications including Across the Board, a magazine for executives.

Powering up women is a particular passion of Donna. She is a Martha Beck Certified Coach and writes the column Power Up! Facing Truths Laughing for Her second book, a motivational story intended to build confidence in young girls, is about to be released.

Most of all, Donna is committed to being on Ellen by 2016. She’s working on her dance moves.

A Simple Strategy to Handle Workload Overload

Workload overload has become an epidemic that’s wearing us all out!  How do you handle it?

In this episode of Gotta Quick Question, workload overload is Jessica’s dilemma and I offer a practical way sort through what's on her to-do list and what to say when when she gets asked to do MORE (because you know she will!).

This isn’t the time to throw on your red cape and save the day by doing it all so that your boss is happy, you’re exhausted, and no one makes any adjustments but you.  This is the time to get smart and savvy. 

Take 4 minutes right now to see how you can bring your workload overload down to size!

workload overload with play button


Have a quick question of your own?  Share it with me here and be on the lookout for my response in the next episode of Gotta Quick Question!

3 Easy Ways to Add Interaction to Your Event Right Now

By Mary Foley

“If you create interaction, they will come” is a mantra you want to adapt when planning a professional women's event.  After nearly two dozen interviews with event and meeting planners, it was clear that creative ways to design fun, inspiring, informative interaction was critical. 

Jeanne Elipani is the meeting planner for the world's largest conference and career fair for women in technology, the WE15 by the Society of Women Engineers, which attracts over 9,000 attendees.  When asked what are the biggest factors to their event's success, Jeann's first response was “using an interactive formula.”

“It's hard to attract younger generations” shared Tracy Orpin who plans the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) annual summit for 1300 and growing.  Adding technology such as apps, highly relevant skill-based topics, and many interactive opportunities was key.

Incorporate interaction everywhere cropped

 Here are three easy ways you can add interaction to your event right now:

1.  Introduce Your Presenters Using “2 Truths and a Lie”

Most bios are boring and people tend to mentally disengage until the presenter walks on stage.  So, the following technique creates immediate interest without adding lots of time.

You have likely played this fun game as an ice-breaker (remember those?).  Often in small groups, you shared two things that are true about you and one that's total rubbish.  It's up to others to guess which statement is the lie. 

Communication consultant and infotainment expert Brian Walter recommends a fun twist.  After a very short introduction of your keynote speaker let the audience know that you are about to share three interesting facts about this person, two of which are truth and one that's not.  Walter recommends that you offer a visual of numbered items with an image for audience members to follow along. 

Once all three statements have been revealed, instruct the audience to hold up one, two or three fingers to indicate which one they believe is the lie.  After a few moments of suspense, reveal the correct incorrect statement, otherwise known as the lie. 

2.  Hallway Hot Seat

In highly trafficked hallways, Tracy Orpin of IAAP positions speakers and presenters at tall tables and chairs for participants to stop by real quick to ask questions one on one or in small groups.  This made the presenters feel far more accessible and encouraged engagement. In fact, these short, interactive learning sessions were “so well received that some speakers barely got to their session on time!” 

3.  Small Group Speed Mentoring

Similar to the Hallway Hot Seat, but more structured and featuring seasoned executives is Small Group Speed Mentoring that Christina Vergara Andrews utilizes for the Women in Cable Telecommunictions (WICT) Womens's Leadership Conference which brings in 800 managers, directors and C-suite female professionals.

These mentoring sessions are small groups of attendees with one seasoned executive one a topic of her choice.  After 20 minutes, the group rotates to another speed mentoring session with another executive.


Power Up optin

 Want more ideas about how to make your professional women's event rock?

Grab a copy of my FREE report POWER UP! 3 Critical Trends and 10 Essential Strategies to Energize your Professional Women's Event.

Or let's brainstorm for 15 minutes - call me, or send me a quick email

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