A little over a week ago I hosted our first Game Changers Women’s Leadership Summit at the House of Commons. 80 inspiring female leaders gathered from a hugely diverse range of industries to talk change-making.
The ripple effects have been magnificent – one participant told me ‘this is the best event I’ve been to in my entire professional life’. People I haven’t been in touch with for years have been in touch to tell me what great work I’m doing. And a friend of mine in Australia was accosted by a networking buddy – ‘Do YOU know Sarah Lloyd-Hughes? I saw this event she was running in parliament…’
This is all flattering and exciting, but I’m feeling like an impostor.
I’m doubting whether I really am a Game Changer.
My message for the day was all about women being more visible. Being willing to put our hands up (both literally and metaphorically) and wave them about. Being seen and being noticed – for the sake of our visions and those we serve.
This is important work. We need to see and hear more women in order to make more balanced decisions in the world; those that come from true partnership between men and women.
The 80 ladies in the room agreed. Yes – we need more women’s voices. Yes – we need to be those voices. And yes, said many, I’ll commit to sharing my vision on a 1-minute video within a week of the event and post it on social media.
I saw at least 50 hands go up to agree to this. And massive credit to the half dozen or so videos that I have seen. You’ve done it and I admire you. Those videos have engaged others and have made your voice visible to tens, hundreds, or even thousands more people. You are role modelling Game Changing leadership.
But what about the rest of us? And the excuses that pop up?
- I’ve just been so busy…
- I tried doing it, but it didn’t come out right.
- I don’t have anything meaningful to say.
- Nobody really wants to hear my ideas.
- What will my clients (boss, family, etc) think?
- What if it’s no good?!
- I haven’t done enough research / planning.
- I know I said I’d do it, but it’s just not that important, is it?
- Someone else will do it.
- Sarah wasn’t really asking me to do the video, was she?
- I still plan to do it, honestly…
Without action, events like this are nothing. Worse than nothing – they’re a waste of precious time, effort and love.
This isn’t about the video. (And it is about the video). Read that list of excuses again and replace ‘make a video’ with ‘put words to my vision’, or ‘write a blog article’, or ‘do a speech about my passion’ or ‘speak up in a meeting’ or ‘disagree with that colleague’.
You might notice that these excuses are pretty good universal excuses for stepping away from all sorts of situations where you might use your voice.
This is really tricky.
To be a Game Changer, I can’t just run an inspiring event at the House of Commons, be told how marvellous it was and then not have people change their actions. To be a Game Changer, I have to galvanise others to act.
And that’s why I’m not sure right now that I’m a Game Changer – I simply haven’t convinced you to act. Yet.
But I’m not done yet either.
I’ve got two strategies. Let’s have a go.
Firstly: I want you to help me.
Tell me… How do I galvanise others, you, around my vision of women amplifying their voices so that we operate in genuine partnership with men?
I want to know the answer: What does it take to convince you (yes, you, reading this right now)that your voice is not only useful, but is urgently needed in this world?
What does it take to convince you that even if you’re not fully prepared, or fully polished, that you have a part to play as a role model; even if it’s just for a handful of people?
And what can I say to convince you that the clock is ticking and that we only have a handful of precious years to make our mark on this world?
If I’m going to be a genuine Game Changer, in service of others, I need you to help me by answering these questions.
Secondly: let me have a word with your excuses.
To the excuses on the list that are familiar to you…
I feel these excuses too. I think we all do. I think they show up for every single leader who has created change in the world.
And I think the more personal and the more important seeming the thing is that we’re trying to communicate, the bigger those excuses become.
Resistance comes up. I get that.
But I know I also have a choice about what to do next.
Am I going to continually and habitually sidestep having a voice? Or do I make the damn video and break through my pattern?
I know my choice.
What about yours?
The UK’s leading inspiring speaking expert & best-selling author. Sarah Lloyd-Hughes is a multiple-award winning public speaking coach, founder of Ginger and author of “How to be Brilliant at Public Speaking” (Pearson).