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No Role Models? And So What! Here Are 8 Steps To Empower Yourself Anyway!

Written by: Christelle Soto-Suarez, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Have you ever wanted to do “something” (joining a specific industry, reaching a senior position, becoming an expert, etc.)… And then realized there was no one “looking like you” (appearance, accents, backgrounds, etc.) doing this “something”?

black suite with question mark

If you have, how did you react?


Did you let this lack of role models, of representation, stop you on your track?


Or did you keep going for this “something” anyway?


Well, if you’re in this situation right now, and you want to “go for it” despite the lack of role models, here are 8 steps that come to mind when I reflect on my time as a woman in construction – from my decision to join this male-dominated and quite traditional industry, to my 25-year international career in that same industry, and then my decision to do something very different.


1. Start with "who you are":


The more I reflect on my life experience (not just my career), the more I go back to "Who I Am – because this is the root to:

  • Wanting to be different, to do things differently from the people I saw around me while growing up;

  • Realizing I’d have to figure out how to create my own path because I didn’t see one I liked around me;

  • Understanding that I’d have to get out of my comfort zone, and put myself in unknown, uncertain, and uncomfortable situations.

Of course, at the time of deciding to enter the construction industry, I hadn’t done an in-depth analysis of “Who I Was” – I used broad feelings and perceptions as guidance.


Even now, I haven’t (yet) done a full in-depth analysis. I simply take some time, from time to time, to reflect on the questions below, to make some notes, and to go back to these notes later on. It’s a work in progress!


But what matters is to answer these questions honestly based on Who You Are – not on how you think you should answer them to fit in with your social and professional circles!

  • What are Your Values?

  • What does Success mean to You?

  • What were Your Childhood Dreams? How about Now?

  • What Interests You? What Excites You? What Bores You?

  • What are Your Strengths?

2. Then remember what "inspired" you in the first place


Can you remember when you first started to be interested in this “something”?

  • What did you see, hear, read, or understand that raised your interest?

  • What did you want to achieve – in the short and long term?

  • What other, follow-up opportunities came to your mind?

For me, the “inspiration” came from a mix of:

  • Addressing in priority my “security and safety” needs by joining an industry that offered "in demand" work, reasonable salaries, and career evolution;

  • Wanting to do something useful and interesting – like building structures critical to human life, that would exist for a long time;

  • Being able to “avoid” starting from the “bottom” positions (salary-wise) in the industry by spending a couple of years studying;

  • Being aware of women entering male-dominated industries, and reaching higher positions than ever before (even if I didn't know any of them) for me, it was supposed to be the beginning of gender equality.

3. Now, Look around you


Are you looking for Differences or Similarities?


When you realized there was no one “looking like you” doing this “something”


What if, instead, you looked for people in the industry or position you’re interested in who have “a little something” in common with you and your situation?

  • There are now many “diverse representatives” in all industries, even if they may only represent a small portion of the workforce;

  • There are many people who started in one field and managed to move to another one despite not having all of the “expected prerequisites”;

  • There are many who started from the “bottom” and managed to “move up the ladder”

What if you looked even further away from the industry, the position?

  • People who “look like you” who do/did things no one else “like them” had done before;

  • People who don’t/didn’t follow “social norms”, whether they’re famous or not, whether you know them personally or not;

  • And I would also suggest fiction – because fiction can be a great source of inspiration for “doing things differently”!

As I didn’t have access to people in the construction industry (this was pre-internet time!), my “looking around me” was limited. But, as I mentioned above, I was aware of women entering male-dominated industries, reaching higher positions than ever before. For me, that was enough to make me feel that there was a place for me in that industry!


4. What would you "need" to get it?


Imagine you’re like everyone else.


What would you Need to achieve your goal? What education, experiences, connections, etc. would you need?


What’s Stopping you from getting these? There are more and more opportunities for training, mentoring, and networking "targeting" minorities, whether via your employer, professional associations, support groups, etc. And even if formal education can be expensive, there are now many opportunities to study online, while working full-time, etc.


Also, do you have to be Exactly like everybody else? After all, there are many ways to get an education, experiences, and connections – including by following a non-traditional career path, bringing something “different” with you, something that can be valued by others.


And what if what you have right now is not quite “right” for your goal? Are there opportunities “around” your goal that would also interest you – even if only as a stepping stone on your way to your goal?


5. How much do you really want it?



This is where there is often a "conflict" between "what needs to be done" (getting uncomfortable) to reach the goal and "enjoying a peaceful, smooth, and comfortable life"


And this is where knowing “Who You Are” is so important! Because we only get out of our comfort zone for something we Really want something that is linked to our Values, to what Success means to us, to our Dreams.


So, what’s your answer to:

  • What are you ready to do, or not?

  • What are you prepared to lose, to say “no” to?

  • Are you willing to be uncomfortable?

Sometimes the answer is “yes, I am”, sometimes the answer is “no, I’m not” or “no, not yet”


6. What’s your Support System?


Having a support system is very important, but it can be difficult to build that support system with people who are really there to Support you, and not to give you advice based on their own perspective, values, and meaning of success.


And I believe this is where Looking Around You for Similarities (for example, looking for people doing something different) rather than Differences is important! We don't need to be surrounded by people "like us" who want to do the same thing as us we need to be surrounded by people who understand and accept Who We Are and what we Really want to do.


I also believe that, sometimes, we need to include in our support system people to whom we don't have direct access, as well as other sources of inspiration and motivation, to empower us to keep going for what we really want to achieve. By that, I mean biographies, books, others’ stories, videos, and podcasts. There is a wide range of options available out there!


7. Finally, take the 1st step!


Even if it’s only a very small step, and only you know about it.


You have to start somewhere to build up the momentum, then to reach a "cruising speed", and to sometimes have some “high speed” moments!


You have to build up the courage to get out of your comfort zone and like pretty much everything, this is done one step at a time.


And once you’ve taken a 1st step, you can take another one, and another one. Some steps will be very small and invisible to the people around you, while others will require more courage and be more visible.

8. And when doubts come to you, remember:

  • Who you are;

  • What inspired you;

  • To look for similarities rather than differences;

  • What you need;

  • How much you really want it;

  • Your support system; and

  • To identify another step you can take to move toward your goal!

Final words


Interested in knowing more about my 5-step process to “Empowering Yourself to Create the Life and Career You Want”? Book a free 45-minute Empower Yourself Discovery Call!


Simply curious? Then check out Pistachio-Cassis Coaching website!


Subscribe to my Pistachio-Cassis Newsletter for monthly insights on Empowering Yourself to Create the Life and Career You Want.


Follow me on LinkedIn for inspiration, motivation, and education about how to empower yourself. And please, reach out to me via LinkedIn or email to let me know you’ve read my article. I’d love to hear from you if you have any feedback, suggestions, or anything else you want to tell me! Visit my website for more info!


 

Christelle Soto-Suarez, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christelle Soto-Suarez is a Personal Leadership & Development Coach who empowers Women in STEM / Construction to create the Life and Career they want, and is the founder of Pistachio-Cassis Coaching. She’s a certified professional coach and a member of the International Coaching Federation.


However, coaching is her 2nd career. Previously, she spent 25 years as a construction professional, working on a wide range of construction and engineering projects and in different roles. She worked and lived in several countries, experienced working in multicultural teams, and speaks 3 languages.


But however fulfilling and challenging these experiences were, the time came when she realized that she actually felt unhappy, unfulfilled, unsatisfied with where she was in her life.


Through her own exploration journey to discover how to create the life and career she wanted for herself, Christelle realized she was actually following a life coaching process. That fascinated her so much that she trained as a professional life coach and she set up her own coaching practice to empower others to also create the life and career they want.


Outside of coaching, Christelle loves expanding her horizons through reading, conversing with people with different backgrounds and experiences, and relaxing in nature.


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