Hannah Wilson portrait

Hannah Wilson

Remarkable: adjective. worthy of attention; striking.

“I am remarkable because…”

Why is it so hard to finish this sentence? Can you reflect on what or who has shaped your thinking to hold yourself back from owning your own accomplishments? The voice you hear, who does it belong to? I bet you can relate it to something that a parent or a family member said to you as a child, or a colleague said to you in your career.

Does your inner critic scream: “Who does she think she is?”

Does your work nemesis mutter under their breath: “Get back in your box!”

Or if it is not hard to finish? Can you reflect on why that is? Have you considered exploring the privilege and the power you have in not having this self-limiting factor holding you back from sharing your successes with others?

Women smiling with a hand over her face. #IamRemarkable

Research shows that those who self-promote, get promoted. Go figure. Those individuals who articulate, celebrate and amplify their accomplishments are seen, heard and recognised in their work places. The spotlight is put on them, by them. Whereas, those who shy away from verbalising their accomplishments out loud, stay in the shadows.

Research shows that some demographic groups are more inclined to the act of self-promotion but this is not a skill we are, or are not, born with. Self-promotion is not a quality, it is a skill. A skill we need to develop, practise and perfect.

People from under-represented groups are less likely to self-promote. Why is this?

I believe this is because they/ we have been conditioned to see self-promotion as a negative. Self-promotion can lead to judgement, criticism and if unrecognised or ignored can further fuel our inner critic. We thus hold ourselves back, paralysed in fear.

We all experience the Imposter Syndrome, we are afraid of people realising we are frauds and that our input is not valid, that our ideas do not deserve to be heard as we have not earned the right to be there. This is how we are conditioned to think. We have been brainwashed to be humble and to be modest – that owning, sharing and celebrating our accomplishments is unbecoming.

Three different women with three slogans. Stereotypes don't define me. I stick to my values. I embrace my success.

We know there are societal, structural and systemic barriers acting as obstacles in the pathways of individuals. Women and BAME individuals need to work even harder to smash through the glass and the concrete ceilings above them. Do we really need to stand in our own way too? Should we really stand in the way of others too?

Because the truth of the matter is that we are part of the problem. We are judgemental and hyper-critical of our peers who self-promote. Their progress brings out the worst in us! Self-promotion in others can incite envy, resentment, jealousy and bitchiness in us.

Research shows that there are biases around self-promotion. Self-promotion can become conflated with boasting or bragging. Self-promotion can jar us if it is inauthentic. Self-promotion can make us inwardly cringe in embarrassment too.

If you are a woman who self-promotes, you are looked upon less favourably. If you are a woman who self-promotes you are less likable. If you are a woman who self-promotes you are believed to be less competent. We can be our own worst enemies as the judgement and criticism can be both internal and external. The fear of failure and the fear of being judged stops us from putting ourselves in situations where this may happen.

I am sure you have all heard the anecdote of the man and the woman who look at a job advert? They are both qualified for the role. They both have the same experience, expertise and qualifications. The man sees he can demonstrate 6/10 of the requirements so he applies. The woman sees she cannot do 100% of the requirements so she does not apply. The confidence gap exasperates the progress gap which in turn exasperates the pay gap, irritating the self-worth gap which then starts the cycle over again.

Women thus fall further and further behind. In the current context of Covid-19, women’s careers and women’s confidence are taking a big hit. So we need to be self-promoters now more than ever…

Self-promotion when based on facts, cannot be argued with. Self-promotion is a skill we need to flex, it is something we need to practise, intentionally so that it feels more natural. Self-promotion is about us putting our heads above the parapets and us pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.

A quote on a TV screen reading It's not bragging, if it's based on facts.

But who are our self-promotion role models? Who can we learn these much-needed skills from? In my #IamRemarkable workshops we have collectively struggled to identify more than a handful of individuals in our professional or personal spheres who self-promote in an authentic way, by showing integrity, by being natural and by not jarring us. Jacinda Ardern and Michelle Obama have both been named as leaders who embody this skill set and who wear it well.

My two visible role models would be someone who I know really well, Jaz Ampaw-Farr, and someone who I admire from afar, Bianca Miller – notably both were on The Apprentice. Both are storytellers, they hook people in with their personality, they share their journeys and you invest in them, you believe them and you want them to be successful as they are authentic. Bianca is an influencer on LinkedIn as she manages her online presence so well. Jaz is a thought leader when it comes to resilience. Both women own their accomplishments and self-promote their impact in their own distinct way.

So here are 8 of my tips on developing your self-promotion toolkit:

  1. Keep a journal, it can be for appreciation or gratitude or a list of why you are remarkable but the act of writing it down helps you to process and retain each small accomplishment on your journey.
  2. Practise saying your accomplishments out loud to yourself. Do it in the mirror and listen to your voice, watch your face. If you don’t believe it no-one else will, so practise saying it with meaning and conviction.
  3. Create a daily affirmation or a daily mantra to remind yourself how remarkable you are.
  4. Share your accomplishments verbally with others, your partner, your friends and family, your colleagues, so they can help to amplify your accomplishments and remind you of each win.
  5. Share your accomplishments in writing, update your CV, add them to your LinkedIn profile.
  6. Leverage your network and use your testimonials on LinkedIn to amplify your accomplishments.
  7. Tag team with a friend and apply the shine theory in meetings to spotlight one another.
  8. Listen without judgement and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, role model how to be successful and proud, in a natural and authentic way.

We are all remarkable but we need to remind ourselves and each other of that. In the last 10 weeks we have accomplished so much, individually and collectively, we have grown and pushed out of our comfort zones, we have risen to challenges and grasped opportunities. I would encourage you to make a list of what you should be remembering and celebrating about this bizarre period of history. Own everything you have achieved so that you do not forget when we go back to ‘normal’ or whatever the next chapter will be.

Quote by John Green on textured background. What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?

I am remarkable because… I have resigned from 3 jobs in the last 4 years without a job to go to but I have landed on my feet each time. I am remarkable because… I relocated to a new area, and although I didn’t know anyone, I have made new friends. I am remarkable because… I have started #WomenEd, 2 schools and a new business. I am remarkable because… I didn’t allow gardening leave to define me. I am remarkable because… I have not only survived lockdown as a singleton, but I have positively thrived in the space it has given me to be reflective and creative. I am remarkable because… I am resilient and indestructible.

If any of those statements jarred you or made you judge me, it says more about you then it does about me. I’m okay with that. I am not bragging nor boasting, I am just speaking my truth.

“Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting with”.
Seth Godin

I know I am genuine, remarkable and worth connecting with. I believe that. If you don’t then I am okay with that. The only person I need to impress, to be happy with and liked by, is myself.

Quote from Wendy Wasserstein quote on patterned red background. Don't live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.

If you want a boost and to learn some self-promotion skills then check out the #IamRemarkable workshops I and other accredited facilitators are running on Eventbrite.

If you want to practise your self-promotion skills then join us for #IamRemarkable Wednesdays on Twitter. If you attend one of my workshops you also get an invite to join our private #IamRemarkable group on Facebook, a safe space for practising your self-promotion skills!

We are on a journey of self-discovery as we explore our belief systems and move from being #10%braver to #10%prouder. It is a process we can learn on together as we discover that there are a lot of things in our lives that are worth celebrating and as we realise that we are far more accomplished than we give ourselves credit for, and that the only person we need to compete with or compare ourselves to, is ourselves. We are all remarkable because we are all striking in embracing our authentic selves and we are all worthy of attention, we just need to keep reminding ourselves of that!

#IamRemarkable Certified Facilitator banner with the phrase I embrace my success.

You can watch the promotional video from Google about their #IamRemarkable Diversity and Inclusion initiative here.