Becky Blalock is a consultant, speaker, former CIO at Southern Company, and author of Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge. I recently had the opportunity to chat with her about what it takes for women to own their space and step forward confidently. Here are some of her powerful insights.
What are the qualities that have helped you succeed?
I really think there are two things. Number one is integrity. I always tell people never compromise yourself, even on the little things. I saw so many times, even in corporate America, where people said they’d do something and they didn’t. If I tell you I’m going to do something and I can’t, you’ll hear back from me about why I couldn’t do it.
Some people look at you as a role model and think you’re just naturally confident. What would you say?
As human beings, we’re not programmed to be confident. Most of our thoughts aren’t confident. We inherited that from our ancestors, who if they took a lot of risks, they wouldn’t have survived. But ask yourself, if it’s something that’s going to kill you or physically harm you? If not, go do it. How many times have you wanted to ask a question but you didn’t?
What advice would you have for the younger you?
First, get clear about what it is you want. I had a situation midway into my career that I wish had happened earlier. I seemed to be stuck, I couldn’t progress beyond where I was. One of my superiors said, if you don’t know what it is you want, chances are you aren’t going to get it. You need to be thinking not just about your next job, but about the job you ultimately want to have, because you need to start training for that now. I mulled that around for a couple weeks, then I said to him, I think I’d like to be VP at this company. We came up with a list of goals, and skills I needed to develop. Then he helped me think through how I was going to go about getting all those experiences.
Second, once you know what it is you want, you’ve got to go for it. Don’t let negative thoughts tell you that you can’t do it and shut you down.
What would you say to younger women?
I tell my daughter, quit doubting yourself. She’s a very successful pharmacist, graduated cum laude, but there are still times when she doesn’t see the potential in herself that I do. Everyone’s faking it – not in an insincere way, but we’re all trying to get through the day as best we can.
I took a psychology course and I learned that there had been a study that said human beings all want the same thing, acceptance. If you can go into every relationship thinking, this person just wants to be accepted like me, you become a lot more tolerant and open to other perspectives, and that makes you more successful in life overall.