A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that she is willing to joke about being awesome, but not truly acknowledge it to herself. Her post made me realize I've been doing the same thing.
While this reality encourages us to play it small, not be conceited, and not talk about our capabilities for fear of alienating someone else or making them feel bad, I wonder what it would create in the world if we were all willing to acknowledge our gifts? What inspiration could we be to others? And what could we change in the world if we taught kids to embrace their awesomeness instead of hiding it?
I decided to become a pilot at the age of 17. I didn't know any pilots, I just knew I wanted to travel and not sit behind a desk. I had no idea what steps to take to get there, I just knew I needed to start with college.
I arrived on the Purdue campus as one of 40 students in the Professional Pilot class. About 8 of us were women, and that number dwindled to less than 5 by graduation. I was a flight instructor teaching people how to fly (from students to 80 yr old men) by the time I was 19.
My first airline had 3 women pilots out of 400, and during my time at Southwest women averaged about 3% of the seniority list.
I never wanted to acknowledge the accomplishment of being a female pilot. I didn't want to be different, I just wanted to blend in. I feared being called out as some of my friends had, accused of getting the job just because I was a woman. I felt I had to work twice as hard to prove I could do the job, that I belonged there.
When I was asked to join an organization, Beating the Odds, to talk to kids about being a female in the world of aviation, I downplayed my role as a female pilot. "Nothing different to see here. I'm no different to the guys." I was lying to myself, and I'm finally ready to acknowledge me. I spent 25 years of my life as a professional pilot, 17 years with the airlines. I'm finally willing to acknowledge what an awesome accomplishment that was.
Believe it or not, this wasn't an easy post for me to write, even though I talk about myself all the time. There is this deep seated teaching in this culture that you just don't DO this. You don't tell people how great you are, or that you are proud of your accomplishments. God forbid people might think you are "that" guy. I've decided to risk being that guy and put those feelings aside for right now, in the hopes to inspire you to remember the greatness you already possess.
So what about you? Would you be willing to share your accomplishments to inspire someone else? What could you acknowledge about yourself? Are you willing to see how great you are? Would you share it with me?