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Own Your Badassery Risking Failure Beats Staying Small



This is my, Susan’s, second season of women ski classes at our Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana. The classes run over a nine-week period between January and March.

This year seventy women showed up on the first day. We were asked to self-select our class in terms of ski level: beginner, intermediate or advanced.

The intermediate group was significantly larger than either of the other groups. So our next step was to break into smaller groups and head up the lift to take some ski runs. It was a bit like selecting teams in elementary school. We skied down while the instructors watched and sorted us.

Last year, this all happened in a day. We were classes in groups of 4-6 women. This year the process went on for three weeks!

I stayed with the original group I self-selected on day one. However, several women came and went over the course of the next three weeks. I have to admit, I was frustrated as things kept shifting. I wondered, “Why is this so difficult?” So I asked our instructor, Jerry.

His response, “Oh that’s easy. Women always underrate their skiing ability. My men’s group gets set right away because ALL the men say they are experts. We just divide them up and work with whatever level really shows up. Women, on the other hand, always underrate themselves. It takes them longer to find the right group fit.”

I thought that was an interesting perspective.

We did have one woman in my intermediate class who had been a ski instructor for years. She was a joy to watch cutting through the powder or through the moguls.

I asked her why she selected her level as intermediate, and she said, “I love learning, and it’s been a while since I was an instructor. I wanted to meet other women and ski, and I didn’t care about skiing black diamond runs.”

Her response made sense. I loved having her in our class.

Contrast her with the three women that joined our class, but who moved the next week to a much more advanced class. They were hesitant to own their level of expertise. In fact, very few women proclaim themselves to be experts or advanced skiers, which is very different from their male counterparts.

That’s skiing, but the same thing holds true at work.

Research says that men will apply for a job or a position if they meet 60% of the criteria. Women will only apply if they meet over 80% of the criteria. Men often claim to be subject matter experts. Women, on the other hand, often ask a question or offer an opinion, usually with qualifiers, when they are well informed or seasoned veterans in a subject or position.

I know there is a lot out there about getting men beyond the ‘mansplaining’ and acting overly confident. I am not going to comment on that. Confidence isn’t always a bad thing. Myself, I like someone who has an opinion and is direct and clear with people.

Plus, if a man is giving me input when I don’t need it or want it, I will speak up.

I am much more interested in challenging women to stop under-rating themselves.

I want you to be willing to speak up, own your badassery, your mojo, say what you think, feel, and want.

Next year, if there are seventy women in the ski class selection process, all self-selecting as intermediate, I think I’m going to ask some follow-up questions:

  • “Would you even tell me if you were an expert?”

  • “What is it you want most: friends to ski with, or becoming a better skier?”

Those questions may result in a clearer selection process. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to join a group to learn more or to connect with others. It’s tougher if you want to get better and aren’t able to really identify where you actually are.

In my opinion, underrating is more self-limiting than overrating. Overrating may be more dangerous or create a higher risk of failure, but in my book, risking failure beats staying small!

Don’t wait for 80% or better to say you can take that next challenge! Share your opinion with the confidence that your point of view matters and is worth considering.

Where are you underrating yourself? Where might you be an expert? Where are you not letting yourself fully shine?

It is okay to be confident and say so!

P.S. Want some help accessing your badassery, your Mojo? Come join us for Find Your Mojo in Montana May 10-13, 2017.


CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.

Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.

Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.

Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.

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