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  • Writer's pictureCécile Hemery

Confidence for Meaningful Change

Portrait of successful happy woman on her way to work on street. Confident business woman wearing blazer carrying side bag walking with a smile.

I recently spoke at the Women in Games Careers, Development and Networking event, whose overarching theme was "Making Meaningful Change". No matter the scale, or the resources available, every kind of real-world action, especially when combined with a community-based approach, can lead to substantial and tangible results. Even one small step is a very real part of a journey.

My journey towards emancipation and confidence

My journey of making meaningful change has been one of emancipation and confidence.

When I was young and studying, the motto I kept hearing from my parents was “do well at school”, and “don’t close any doors”. I had to go to a good university, to get a good job and a decent salary, so I could be independent. And that was the thing that mattered, not much else. 

I studied business without any real idea of what it actually was and accepted the first job that came my way when I graduated.

I was eager to prove myself. I had always been a good student, getting good grades, I was quiet and followed the rules: the first years of my career were a continuation of that. Opportunities came my way - I was regularly promoted, given leadership responsibilities and lived in several countries abroad -  and I said yes to them to look good and successful, to please my management, to show gratitude for their faith in me, rather than thinking about what I really wanted. And this was enough for me, for a while, until I reached the point where I had proven to myself everything that I was interested in proving to myself.

It’s not that it was a goal that I set for myself at any point, but it just happened, and one day I woke up, I had different needs and wants. I wanted to have an impact. I wanted to make a change.

Now that my mindset had changed and pleasing others was not my unconscious first priority anymore, I felt a deep void. By always keeping doors open, I actually never purposefully went through one. I never chose, I never said no, I never created opportunities for myself. I was piggybacking. I was passive in my life. I had no idea who I was, where I was or why I was. I started to want something different but had n idea what, nor how, to make those decisions. 

As a woman, and as a quiet person, in a male-dominated industry such as gaming, leadership opportunities also became thinner. 

When I started saying no, things did not continue to go as well. Trying to redefine myself in an environment that I felt wanted me to simply continue to be a good girl became a contributing factor to what you could call burnout. Though I was in a leadership role, I felt I had very little space around me to manoeuvre, to make actual decisions. Everything around me felt small and unwelcoming. However much I worked or tried, I struggled to carve for myself a role that felt the right level of challenge and comfort. It was overwhelming, I could see no way forward anymore. I was losing myself and I needed change. So I left. It was a split-second decision that took years to make.

Getting out of my own way

I wanted to be free. I wanted to be free to be me. In the subsequent journey that I went on afterwards - of being coached and becoming a coach, I realised that whatever obstacles I had met on my way, the biggest one had always been me.

It’s a hard one to swallow, in all honesty, to realise that, but it is true.

I didn’t believe in myself. Not truly.

In an exaggerated way, and unconsciously I was a good student and my successes existed within the approval gaze of my managers and whoever was there to approve of and validate me. A bit like Ken only "existing within the warmth of [Barbie’s] gaze".

I didn’t grasp it at the time, but I was trapping myself in my need to do well.

Trapping myself with high expectations.

Trapping myself with the idea that I needed to be seen without really seeing myself.

I did a good job, yes. I had a successful career, yes. But what was I achieving? I’m not sure I was achieving anything meaningful. It made me feel like a cog in a machine, but I also acted as a cog in the machine.

It’s our own responsibility to put ourselves first.

Before I could achieve anything, before I could create any kind of meaningful change externally, I needed to create it within myself.

Activating and growing the leader within

When you are a leader, you need to show up.

You need to show the way, have a vision and share it, inspiring others to follow your lead.

Confidence in yourself is a prerequisite to inspire confidence in others.

Confidence in yourself and in your place in the world allows you to be more grounded when facing challenges, uncertainty and discomfort.

If you see everyone and everything as being against you, you are likely to take a defensive stance and react with justifications and excuses rather than move through challenges.

It is normal that you will be questioned, and that there will be challenges, misunderstandings, and push-backs. All of this is to be expected and this is a part of life. Just because someone doesn’t agree doesn’t mean that you’re points are not valid or that you’re not good enough. Don’t make it mean something about you.

If you are acting defensively it is in reaction to a perceived attack, you can question whether there has actually been an attack. Take a moment, take a breath to think things through. Showing up defensively is a sign of stress and rarely shows you in your best light. Take a step back and instead of reacting, respond. You can be confident in yourself and not know something. You can be confident that not knowing this thing is OK. Your impostor syndrome might tell you that you need to know everything or it’s as if you know nothing. But this is a lie. Expose the lie. 

Commonly, my clients come to me saying that they’ve been passed over for promotions or projects they wanted, to see them given to colleagues or other people. They get frustrated as to why they’re not getting it and others are.

But when I ask if they asked for that opportunity, the answer is generally “No. My manager knows what I’m worth. They know me. If they’re not giving it to me, they have a reason”. 

The fear of being told they’re not good enough overcomes the desire to ask for what they want.

But because the communication didn’t happen, the frustration and the unknowing poison the relationship. 

It’s easy to imagine unpleasant reasons for not getting what you want and believe them to be true.

That reason could just as well be that your manager didn’t think about it and gave it to the first person who asked, which wasn’t you because you didn’t ask. Sometimes, the story isn’t bigger than that. And that means nothing about your ability to do the job. But it’s easy to confuse it as such.

All that downward spiralling is unnecessary and avoidable.

Confidence enables meaningful change

I really wish I had known all of this - and how to do this - earlier in my career. 

This is why I chose to become a coach - reflecting on how to approach conversations, on how to read situations and what I believed in.

These are all things that make a huge difference and allow you to reclaim your own power.

Because once you start being truly confident in yourself, once you know why you’re doing what you’re doing and you allow yourself to be you without checking first if that’s OK with others, your entire energy shifts.

I’ve experienced it and I see my clients experience it as well.

A client once said, “It’s amazing how good confidence feels. It’s energising”.

Another said that once she started taking ownership of herself, it was like others sensed something had changed and opportunities started to come her way. The way she acted conveyed an entirely different message, one that inspired trust and invited collaboration and creativity.

Of course, it is an ongoing process. “I know that like the ocean, I have ebb and flow too”. But every step is empowering.

How can you use coaching to make meaningful change? 

To make meaningful change, you have to be proactive.

To be proactive, you have to be confident and know where you’re going and why.

And to achieve that, you need to know yourself. 

Know thyself” - the famous message from Ancient Greece from the Oracle of Delphi as being the key to wisdom. Reflect, face your fears and remove from the situation what does not belong there. 

The role of coaching in Making Meaningful is to:

  • allow yourself to access that self-knowledge and,

  • apply what you’re learning from it to the situations you are facing in the here and now,

  • act as a springboard and a soundboard supporting you on your journey.

If that sounds like a journey you’d like to embark on, send me a message or reach out for a conversation.


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