“Here’s what I should have done.”

“Here’s what I should have said.”

Many women will recognize those statements, having said them to ourselves after a meeting, conversation, or other interaction—perhaps involving one or more male participants.

We often dismiss ourselves, partly because we’ve been trained not to see ourselves accurately . . . and to stay quiet.

We don’t speak up in meetings. We don’t follow our intuition. We don’t trust ourselves.

And all of that comes at a cost.

To our colleagues. To our clients, funders, and partners. To our organizations and the missions we serve. And, of course, to ourselves most of all.

Because stepping into our power takes risk. We feel vulnerable. We are stepping into the unknown.

And we tend to hold ourselves back from taking action, in so many ways.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

This series of articles, for women and people who work with women, will help you be more aware of challenges, take action in moments large and small, and move from awareness to meaningful action. We will help you understand the thinking and behaviors that may prevent women from speaking up, and offer tips for overcoming these barriers.

Call to Action: How to Use a Micro-Moment

As an executive leadership coach who leads groups for women who seek to develop from the inside out, my goal in empowering women (and in fact anyone of any gender identity) is to help you develop your emotional intelligence and self-awareness so that in the moment—the “micro-moments,” as I think of them—you are aware of what’s going on inside you, and able to harness that awareness to act.

That means being aware of the voice inside telling you to speak up, to share your perspective. It also means being aware of your tendency to quiet that voice, to ignore it, to dismiss it. This awareness is what leads to real change.

It’s not just cognitive awareness. Perhaps there’s even a body component you can sense — a flutter, a feeling of aliveness in your stomach, a feeling of excitement that you have something to say, something to contribute. But also the fear that maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you won’t be taken seriously, or your idea won’t be seen as valuable.

So we want to help you train yourself to be truly aware, to consciously think in that micro-moment: Something’s going on. I want to speak. And, I am afraid. I am vulnerable. I am aware I have a choice to make, and I want to make it consciously, not default to inaction or stereotype.

That positive set of statements can help you overcome self-sabotaging thoughts like: What if I sound scared or stumble to find the right words? What if what I say isn’t right? What if the people in the meeting don’t like it?

This conscious push for awareness will help you act in the moment, bringing your fear with you. The more you make the choice to take risks in those micro-moments, the more you will discover your capacity  — and your internal and external power.

Micro-moves lead to macro-level change


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