Why Owning Your Accomplishments Might Be Sabotaging Your Success

An overachieving Millennial who had the moxie to declare at 13 years old, “Class president today, U.S. President in 30 years,” I grew up believing that if I wanted to push through societal, organizational, and my own barriers, it was vital that I own my accomplishments. It was no accident that I amassed close to $100K of scholarship money by the time I was a freshman in college. I was brilliant at communicating a narrative that painted me as an über smart, sassy, and successful emerging leader. So people gave me opportunities. Whether I was applying to be a popcorn girl at a movie theater or a communications associate for a women’s entrepreneurial association, in my early career I always got the job.

When I transitioned full-time into speaking, training, and coaching in my mid-twenties, naturally I thought that as long as I could prove that I was the real deal, I’d grow a successful business. It had always worked before. But for a long time, the opposite was happening. When I touted my past achievements, be it with meeting planners, HR directors, or business owners, I had oodles of prospective work come my way. But I never closed. And, embarrassingly, when I did secure a new opportunity it often didn’t last very long or spawn referrals.

As I’ve discovered through a healthy dose of experience, research, and introspection, owning one’s accomplishments is not a bad thing. It’s an important step to getting an audience with influencers and decision makers in your life. For women especially, it can mean the difference between staying in one’s current role or getting a raise, stretch assignment, significant account, or promotion. According to a recent Stanford study, “In the business world, women who are aggressive, assertive, and confident but who can turn these traits on and off depending on the social circumstances get more promotions than either men or other women.” It’s just important that once you’ve earned your ‘seat at the table,’ you continue to do the following so as not to come off as vain, entitled, or inaccessible…as I had to learn the hard way.

Let yourself be vulnerable. I know, it sounds totally counterproductive to establishing your credibility, doesn’t it? But the truth is people trust people who are confident enough to reveal their struggles, as long as they are framed as part of one’s journey and not as the journey itself. They connect with those whose stories reflect back to them what they have endured and had to surmount. Whether you are being vulnerable with a conference room full of colleagues or a prospective client, the more you can employ your storytelling skills to show how you have turned your garbage into gems, the more you will engender true, sustainable credibility, and buy-in. I’ve gotten far more leverage talking about wearing headgear than I have from sharing how I have built a thriving marriage. People relate to our messes and are often frightened and turned off by our successes.

Ask juicy questions. I haven’t come across too many people in my life who don’t want others to take an interest in them and elicit their ideas, passions, experiences, and so forth. Take the time to get to know the people you communicate with before you get face time with them. Be prepared to ask questions that use what you have learned as a base to pull out the more rich information. Whenever somebody approaches me and makes mention of a talk she took the time to watch or an article she perused, I am exponentially more eager to hear what she has to say. Plus, I can’t help but think she is more invested, successful, and passionate about whatever she is discussing…just by focusing her attention on me.

Reference your experience, and be heart-centered about it. The best communicators are constantly choosing to show rather than tell. While in a professional bio or LinkedIn profile you may list your wow’, when communicating with people, focus on gracefully weaving in stories and examples of how you got an underperforming employee out of his own way or took a mompreneur from five-figures to multiple six-figures to enhance your credibility. The key is to be motivated by being of service to the person or people you are speaking with, to genuinely want them to see what is possible and to start taking action. While structurally you may not do much different if your self-talk, on the flip side, is “Like me, like me, like me” or “Say yes, say yes, say yes,” the energy will be completely different. People will feel like you are pushing rather than inviting, that you are selfish rather than selfless.

Opt In Image
Get on the Obstacles Into Opportunities list

You will receive my weekly-ish heart-centered, high-impact communication and leadership tips, videos, freebies and event specials delivered straight to your inbox. Be on the lookout for my 7 Biggest Obstacles to Success and the Sinfully Simple Formula to Shift Them Into Opportunities. Once you confirm your subscription, I'll send it over so that you can start taking action NOW.

This entry was posted in Career Advice, Communication, Women's Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Are you ready to step into the success that is your birthright?

    Subscribe to my weekly-ish Obstacles Into Opportunities and receive my 7 Biggest Obstacles to Success and the Sinfully Simple Formula to Shift Them Into Opportunities to start busting bigger moves in the world NOW!


  • Alexia’s Books & Products

  • Sample Praise for Alexia

    “Alexia is one strong woman helping women to achieve their goals.”
    Ronnie Cho | The White House Office of Public Engagement

    “I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for what you were able to do to help me with my public speaking abilities! You have my eternal gratitude for finally getting me over my near-paralyzing fear of speaking.”
    Tanya Murray | Realty Executives of Nevada

    "Alexia is unlike any other speaker or presenter I’ve ever seen. She embodies the very best of her generation and showed me a range of strategies I can use in preparing my students to be leaders in the workplace.”
    Dr. Joseph Bonnici | Central Connecticut University

    "Alexia is revolutionizing how we prepare nurses for the demands of the workplace in Nevada. She truly understands how to grow a new generation of ethical, high-impact communicators and leaders.”
    Doug Geinzer | Southern Nevada Medical Industry Coalition

    “Alexia is a tremendous coach and speaker. 100% of our group in post surveys commented that the workshop was valuable and uplifting.”
    Kristen Baldwin | Step Up Women’s Network

    "What I love and appreciate about Alexia is her ability to pinpoint your style and strengths as a communicator as well as the little nuances that get you in the way of your power. She gives you very detailed ways to make new changes and enhance your natural communication style."
    Christina Ambubuyog | I Love Intuition