While scores of American businesswomen were embracing Sheryl Sandberg and her “lean in” philosophy about being heard in the workplace, Courtney Smock was following another leader — and another ideal.
“Sheryl Sandberg’s book tells us that if we want to be more successful in business, we have to stop what we’re doing and be more like men,” said Smock, a certified personal coach and owner of Each Strong LLC, a personal and professional consulting company. Smock also is an organizational development consultant at Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids.
Where women need to change, she said, is in having confidence in the person they already are and using their voices to be active participants in the conversation.
“We are, by our wiring, whole thinkers — we are caring, we are empathetic, we are emotional. And that’s OK,” she said.
Smock will be the keynote speaker at the fall HER Women in Business luncheon Oct. 10 at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center in Cedar Rapids. Her address, “I need to be more confident (and other lies you may be telling yourself),” will focus on helping women find their confidence and voice without abandoning themselves in the process.
“The punch line of my talk is that no action is too small,” Smock said. “Actually, small steps are better. The bigger we make our goals, the more we freak our brain out. I want people to leave my talk with the idea, ‘What’s the smallest thing I can do to change and commit to every day?’ When you do that, when you make that small commitment, you’re going to end up going far.”
Part of that process, she said, is overcoming the inner voice that says, “I’m not good enough.”
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“Every one of us has this gremlin in our brain saying, ‘I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not strong enough,’” she said. “That is part of our humanness. It started when we were young and likely came out of a place of love — we wanted to do something or something happened and were told we’re not big enough or we’re not old enough. It touched off a dialogue that we’ve carried through to adulthood.”
That voice stays with women as they grow and continue to be told they’re not good enough to make the same income as men or to be in the same jobs as men.
“As we grow, we get to choose what we believe. We all have those voices in our head saying we’re not enough, but we also have those voices that say, ‘Yes, I am.’”
“You’re always going to be afraid. Always,” she said. “You have to do it anyway.”
Things are changing, Smock says, as women become a bigger part of the conversation and oversee a bigger piece of the business landscape.
“I think women not being awake and not participating, especially politically, is part of the reason we are where we are now,” she said. “Women are beginning to be engaged in a way that they never were before. There’s something bubbling here that’s really big.”
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