A Smart Woman Conversation: Debra Hamilton - Attorney, Author, and MAP Creator
My Muse is Edgar Allan Poe

If Being Smart Enough Is All It Takes...

Being smart

I hear laments of “I’m not smart enough!” And, “I’m too fat, or too thin, or too tall or too short, or too old or too young, or too too too something!”

It’s not a matter of Too

It’s a matter of confidence and training.

Does this sound like you?

"I can't do this. I'm not...

  • Smart enough (don't have that degree)

  • Tall enough (no one will notice me, I'm so short)

  • Pretty enough (all the pretty girls get all the attention)

  • Savvy enough (whatever that means)

  • Thin enough (no one will work with a fat girl)

  • Confident enough (my stuff is okay, but so is hers, and hers, and hers)

  • Young enough (really? you're still saying that?)

And the list goes on and on.

I talked a little about this in this week’s Smart News, which goes out on Fridays at 5:30 ET. Are you on my list?

I can’t address all of the concerns women have about starting a business, or becoming an entrepreneur. But, I can talk about the ones listed here. I know them intimately.

Smart as you are right now

I’m not smart enough

This comes from an inner insecurity society has shackled us with. We carry this heavy chain around our necks from kindergarten through whatever college or university we have attended. Or not attended. It's on our necks regardless.

It grows and grows and gets heavier and heavier, until the weight of is is so enormous, we are walking around like a ninety year old woman with back problems.

We often mutter that if only the chain could be removed. We dream of ways to get rid of it, so we can stand tall and be seen. 

Truth is, there is no chain.

You’ve imagined it. You've allowed other people to shackle you with it. 

The only thing holding you back is your own worry. This one, the “I’m not smart enough” one, is a cop-out. I hate to say it, but it is.

Honestly, there is success story after success story of women who never even graduated middle school, but went on to create wonderful products that made them millions of dollars, and gave them fame.

They did it by understanding how powerful their talent was, regardless of the lack of ‘smarts’, according to society, of course. Society, those invisible, ancient, angry, old ghosts who watch over us and try to make decisions for us on how we dress, how we talk, who we hang out with and whether or not our education is worthwhile, are never out to help us. They’re old, they want to see failure, and when they do, they cackle like the black witches they are.

Get rid of them. You are just as smart as you need to be. I predict that the Warrior in you, the woman who is straining against those chains, can only win if she is more determined than defeated.

Too tall too short

I’m not tall enough

If you’re still using this old excuse, I don’t quite know what to do with you.

It’s all a part of the being too short, or too old. These are relative beliefs foisted upon us by our parents. Or, our grade school friends (and where did they learn it?). Or our (heaven forbid, but it does happen) significant others.

It’s other people who whisper we’re too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, too this or too that.

I can advise you not to fall into the trap of high heels, if you’re on the short side. Oh darling! Those shoes will kill you later on.

And still, if you must, if you are brave enough to risk bunions (a topic close to my heart this week as I am recovering from bunion surgery … and having subsequently thrown my back out), go for it. I am a fan of many beautifully crafted high heels. But, I admire them from afar.

Think of too tall or too short as not who you are but what you bring to the lectern. You bring experience dealing with the unfair nature of otherwise smart people to place you in a box you don’t belong in.

Stand tall, regardless of your height, and make eye contact. That works every time. People won’t be focused on your height if you make them focus on who you are – using voice, and presence, and confidence.

I’m not pretty enough.

 Oh darling! Who is?

I mean, we all rave about the Kardashians, but you know they’re manufactured, don’t you?

I look at Audrey Hepburn and sigh and wonder why I couldn’t look more like her. She was authentic to her very soul. 

In my youth, I favored Cher. I was thin, but curvy, and dyed my long hair black and was often told I looked just like her. What a compliment! No longer, of course. I gained weight, she did not. Sigh.

Each of us looks just as nature intended. We can use cosmetics to cover age spots (I do!), to brighten our faces (I do!), to enhance those parts of ourselves we want to enhance (I do!), or we can go au naturale. It’s a choice. Ours to make.

Once, in college, I found myself staring across the concourse at the most beautiful young woman I had ever seen. She was my height, five six or so; she carried herself like a queen; she dressed with such style I could not fathom where she learned to be so put together; and her golden hair was like the morning sun, just as it comes over the horizon and before it takes on the dark hue of the day.

I have never forgotten this young woman. She took my breath away.

I came upon her as a friend and I were walking together, on our way to class. My girl friend noticed my frank, open-mouthed stare.

“That’s, Gretchen,” she said, her eyes still on my face. [not her real name]

“She’s beautiful!” I whispered. I didn’t trust myself to speak out loud, at that moment.

My friend gave a shrug. “She’s not as pretty as you,” she said.

And therein you have it. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

You are beautiful – to many, many people. To those who find you less so, give a shrug. They don’t buy your products or come to hear you speak because they like the way you look.

It’s up to you to learn to like the way you look, knowing you are prettier than some and not as pretty as others. As my good mother used to say, “Pretty is as pretty does.” So, go do.

Not savvy enough

I’m not savvy enough

What, exactly, does this mean? Savvy, according to my dictionary means, “… experienced, knowledgeable, well informed, shrewd.”

Are you over 25? Then you are savvy enough.

Don’t get your knickers in a knot if you’re under 25. You can be savvy, too. Some people are born that way. They have a talent for fashion, or writing, or singing, or performing, or whatever.

The rest of us have to learn how to be savvy.

I dare say, we allow ourselves to get all knotted up over this, as if savvy is something only those other ‘smart’ women have, or are, or display.

I find Katherine Hepburn quite savvy. She’s up there at #1 on my list of savvy women.

But that’s my list. You likely have someone else on yours.

And, to a good many other people, you’re the savvy one.

My sisters are so talented – each one of them (I have three) have more talent in their little fingers than I have in my whole body, but they wouldn’t say so. They would say I’m savvy and smart and talented and they are … ordinary.

Bollocks!

When I sit them down and talk about their talents, when I touch and feel and marvel over the products they create, I show them how truly savvy they are. It only takes honesty.

Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to be well-traveled, or well-educated, or well-brought up (no, not going there today, but…that’s just another trap, ladies), to be savvy.

You need only be who and what you are.

I’m not confident enough

Aren’t you? Are you showing your products to other people?

Are people, yes, even relatives, buying said products?

Have you thought of or already built a website?

Then you have confidence. Maybe you need to garner more, learn to build your confidence to a level of comfort that allows you to take your craft and speak about it in public.

Women who want to be entrepreneurs, learn confidence by doing, by failing here and there, and by studying or reading about it. About how to hold your head up high, dress with verve, speak with power, make eye contact.

I have an eBook about that. Email me and I will send it to you.

I’m too old. Or not old enough.

You are just the right age.

I’m on the near side of 70. There I said it out loud. I’m officially, according to the society we live in, old.

When folks tease me about using my senior citizen discount, even when the restaurants or such give me the squinty eyed, “you’re not a senior citizen” look and ask for ID, I say, “It took me a long time to get this old. You bet I’m going to take advantage of it.”

There is no such thing as too old, too young, or too anything.

Just do what you want to do.

Find a way.

Don’t make age your excuse.

Today is your day to do what you want; at whatever age you are today. And that’s because we still have not perfected time travel. I have it on good authority that we won’t be perfecting time travel any time soon, either.

Each of us blooms in a garden of life created by our environment, but nurtured by ourselves and those around us.          

 What else? What else is holding you back? Tell me. Write to me. Leave a comment. Sign up for some magic. Smart News gets delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Just do something, for golly’s sake. Go on, do it. (then come back and tell me all about it!)

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