Life (work, politics and business) is a competition that women don’t recognise, rarely enjoy, nor play well.
Men know it and are good at playing. They know that each interaction is a round in life’s game. They play to win, prepare for the next stoush and if they lose, enjoy a consolation beer with their competitors.
Think of the men you know who:
- Instinctively seek to win an argument – regardless of whether they believe in their case
- Claim the space at meetings as they compete for the boss’s attention
- Compete for the biggest … car, house, or gadget. ‘He who dies with the most toys wins!’ bragged my former husband whenever I dismissed his need to acquire the latest and greatest of everything.
Women are also players in life’s competition. We compete on a daily basis: for recognition, acknowledgement and status – but too often lose by default because we fail to notice, don't like, or can’t be bothered ‘playing the game’.
We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter if we don’t get that bonus, promotion, or recognition. ‘It’s not such a big deal’ we rationalise, optimistically.
Personally, I can easily manage transactional competitions – winning a piece of work or selling my services is easy and straight forward. It’s a sale pitch about my work, my business or my approach.
As soon as it gets personal and I feel I’m competing for attention, acknowledgement or recognition I retreat. Actually, I convulse with agony and disappear from the playing field. I rationalise to myself that I want to be recognised for the substance of my work, rather than the quality of my PR. This is particularly the case when I feel I’m competing (rather than collaborating) with women.
My own personal billboards of ‘be nice,’ ‘don’t stand out’ collide and explode with memories of having to compete for attention with the other females in my family where I tended to just retreat in defeat.
This means I frequently fail to ask for favours, the spot-light or opportunities for exposure and tend to stay under the radar. This often doesn’t matter, but sometimes does.
Too many of us have learned that to compete is bad, or we’ll be punished in some way when we do. This is my story. Every woman has her own. The result is the same. We lose.