10 Kay Symons on learning to say 'I am good at...' on the Positive Personal Power training course
One of them was called ‘Positive Personal Power’, and was run by a psychiatrist called Myrtle Berman. And it was a lot of the soft side of management but also of personal management, so there was a bit of stuff about dealing with anger, for instance, I remember.
And the other thing I really remember from those workshops was I think, right near the beginning, she talked quite a lot about how difficult women found it to say what they were good at, and that this whole thing about waiting for other people to recognise what you were good at and give you promotion and so on was what was holding a lot of women back.
And each of us had to stand up – I think it was only for a minute, but for a whole minute we had to say ‘I am good at…’ without saying ‘People say I am good at …’ or ‘I think I’m good at…’. Just had to do it, and it was really, really hard. And all of us found it hard. And I think it was great in a way to see other women who I thought were absolutely terrific in the same group standing up and struggling every bit as much as I was with just saying what was good.
And actually one of the hard things was not just saying it, it was also working out what it was. You know that, I think we’d been so well trained by our upbringing not to brag, not to boast, not to get above ourselves, that we didn’t actually know what we were good at, apart from what people told us. And then we had to say it: ‘I am good at this’, and well, people say that, but it is true? And/or nobody has ever said I’m good at this but maybe I am.
And she said, just try it you know, every morning in the shower, 30 seconds, ‘I am good at…’ and see how you feel after a month of doing that. I thought that was really good advice.
So that was quite a life-changing course, that one, for a lot of us I think in terms of giving us permission to be strong, to express ourselves, and also some maybe practical techniques for how not to come over as strident and bossy and negative and, you know, all those other things that women often get accused of.