why i need to stop saying i’m ‘lucky’ at work

Last week I received a message from a colleague in a different team about a role that was on offer and if I’d like to be considered for it.

I read the job description and quickly realised that if I were to create a list of the things I love to do, this job has them all:

  • Writing
  • Content strategy and
  • Food

I applied for the role a couple days later and was given two assignments to do before the interview.

I worked my butt off every day the week before and even dreamt about the article I had to submit, making mental amendments to the angle of the piece.

The morning of submission, I looked through what I had pulled together and I just felt really proud of what I did. I hit send and hoped for the best.

I had my interview at nine the next morning and I walked out feeling confident and happy with how I went and my work was well-received.

In the quickest turnaround in history, I was offered the job at 5pm the same day. When the hiring manager told me I had the job, I blurted out a sceptical, “Really?!”

My fiance and I went out for dinner that night to celebrate my promotion and I felt so proud that my hard work not only in the interview process but in the last 18 months in my workplace led to this moment. The last thought I had before falling asleep that night was, “I’m so lucky”.

I bumped into two managers from my previous workplace a few days later and took a minute to have a chat. They asked me what I was doing nowadays and I shared that I had just been offered the new job in a matter of eight hours.

The woman in the pair looked at me and said, “It must have been your smile that got you the job!” Without even thinking, I quickly replied, “That must have been it”.

I said my goodbyes and headed back to work, a little confused by the conversation that had just played out. I was taken aback by the smile comment, especially coming from a very powerful and successful woman.

I didn’t spend the week smiling at my laptop screen, with the words magically appearing. I haven’t been smiling at my problems until they disappear. It was actually a little disappointing that all my hard work was attributed to something as simple as my smile.

When I first started at my current company, my manager advised that the business revolves around relationships and that it was imperative that I ensure I get to know people in different teams beyond when I just need them for something.

I really took this in my stride and made a point to say good morning/evening with the reception team and cleaners when most ignore them. I’ve befriended people in different teams and greet them as I pass in the halls of the building. I listen to pre-meeting small talk and make sure I follow up with people on how they found that restaurant, or how their trip to Hawaii was.

I work really hard on people knowing who I am and holding me in high regard. Sure, maybe I smile whilst I do it but it takes a lot more than shining my pearly whites.

I think as a woman I’m constantly looking for an excuse for my career success rather than acknowledging it for what it is. I’m worried that one day it will all disappear because I didn’t really deserve it in the first place.

Back in 2017, I attended Nine to Thrive, two-day Business Chicks conference that aims to dispel the myths of career women and how to smash that glass ceiling. One panel I attended explored ‘imposter syndrome’ and how it impacted the women in their professional lives.

Most of the women were seen nodding in the audience and for the first time, I realised I wasn’t alone in my feelings.

When I was growing up, my parents – especially my mum – encouraged me to dream big when it came to my career and to climb as high as I wanted to go. She always told me she’d be involved as an active grandmother and to not let children deter me from reaching for the top.

I’ve been working full-time for nearly five years and I’m constantly stressing that I’m closer to 30 than 25 now and why should I keep pushing professionally when I’ll need to step out of the game to start a family.

I think this is where this sense of ‘luck’ comes from. Why am I worth investing in when one day I’ll leave to have a baby and when I come back, it may be only part-time or I’ll need flexible hours?

One thing my workplace supports is working mums and a lot of the women in top positions only work 3-4 days a week and finish at four each day. The struggle seems to be more internal than a result of my surroundings.

This is why I’m going to stop saying I’m lucky. I’m not lucky, I work hard and it pays off. Period.

My name is Dominique and I’ve worked hard to get where I am today. I didn’t finish my combined Law and Arts degree because I was lucky, my smile didn’t get me a promotion and my work should invest in me because I am an asset to the business.

I hope anyone reading this knows they deserve what they have and it’s not luck, horoscopes, crystals or the phase of the moon.

Back yourself!

-tgfs x

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