women working at a conference table

When I first started working with groups of women as part of their Leadership Development programs, I was shocked to discover how often we brushed off recognition for our own accomplishments.

Someone would say:

Sophia, great job on the audit this quarter.

And the reply I’d hear was:

Oh well, I’m just lucky, I’ve a good team.

Over and over women I worked with were attributing their success to luck, rather than skill. I have only once ever worked with a man that said his success was attributed to luck.

The instinct to avoid a compliment, because a woman doesn’t want to look like she’s stuck up, or she was taught not to “show off” (or maybe she just doesn’t feel worthy) is self-sabotaging.

If everything that happens to us is luck, then we have no agency in MAKING things happen; for ourselves—and, more importantly, for our organizations.

Companies don’t promote people because they’ve had a lucky streak. Companies promote people who have had a proven track record of success.

They promote the people who are receiving applause for being good at what they do AND who know how to behave during the curtain call.

I started my career as an actor. In theatre school they don’t just teach us how to perform. They also teach us how to bow. It’s an important career skill.

Learn to say:

Thank you. And thank you for taking the time to notice. You know what? I’m proud of that too.

cloud in the shape of a heart with "Thank You" written on it

That’s all a bow is. An acknowledgement of the compliment. Accept your praise. Claim your value.

On March 16th I’m speaking at the Fearless Women’s Summit in NY on how to start, and accept applause. If you are a woman who is feeling stuck in her career, or life, join us.

Carol Lempert speaks at the Fearless Woman's Summit in March 2019