by Melissa Nixon
As a former young executive, I would often times find myself as the “only one in the room.” As I would enter into meetings with senior leaders, there was never any doubt that I would be the only one of something:
The youngest in age (often times by 15 – 20 years)
The youngest in tenure (sometimes by 20 years)
The only woman
The only one of a different ethnicity
The only one that didn’t grow up in “the company”
The only one that was single
The only one that didn’t grow up in the “the industry”
The only that didn’t go hunting or was an avid football fan
The list goes on and on! You name it, it seemed like there was something that always reminded me that I didn’t quit fit in. That reminded me that I wasn’t exactly “one of the boys” in the “good ole boys club.” Can you relate?
In the beginning it was extremely intimidating. I would often enter those situations wondering, how will I influence this conversation? Will I fit in? Will they listen to me? Will I be able to make an impact? There was a certain level of fear and anxiety that came with each scenario. I often times looked confident on the outside, but internally felt less than because my background, my experiences, and my general life seemed so different from everyone else.
But then something shifted. Something major happened that changed the course of my whole corporate career. I began to recognize that my differences were the value add, the spice, the unique perspective needed to prevent the same decisions and group think that persisted in these conversations. I began to realize the most fundamental aspect that changed my whole career trajectory, I finally began to realize that I belonged in the room. And in fact, I realized that there were conversations and decisions being made that I also needed to be a part of and leverage my voice. Nothing earth shattering happened, if you wondering what changed. What changed was my “leadership mindset”, about me, who I was, and what I had to offer.
This shift allowed me to not only look confident externally, but internally realize I have signature skills, gifts, and abilities that no one else possessed around those tables. My voice, my presence, my creativity, style, even my loud laugh were needed.
How do you show up? What is your leadership mindset when you enter into situations feeling like you don’t quite fit in? How you enter the room and the conversation directly correlates to the level of influence you will have with others and decisions being made. There is no way to have the level of influence you desire to have not fully showing up, being your authentic self, or holding back for the sake of others.
I apply the same principles and approach as an entrepreneur now when I enter into networking and sales meetings. Whether your background is corporate or entrepreneurial is irrelevant. Does the fear go away, perhaps, but often times no! Does the intimidation permanently stop, no! But the minute you realize you belong in that space and were created for that moment changes everything!
Melissa Nixon is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Leadership Coach, Trainer, and Courageous Life Mentor who has been referred to as a “Powerhouse of Positivity”. She provides inspiration, coaching, training, and consulting to women leaders, entrepreneurs, and professional women of faith through the Courageous Life Academy, a leadership and personal development company. As a Risk Architect, she shows her clients how to design and lead powerful careers, game-changing-businesses, and fulfilling lives. Melissa empowers her clients to live and lead courageously by discovering the faith and courage needed to either move up in their career or out into their calling.
Her motto is: I’m not afraid of failure, but I am afraid of regret!