Last month The51 had the pleasure of hosting SheWorth Co-founders, Entrepreneur Lara Smith and Registered Psychologist Kimberly Mueller, for a webinar that pulled no punches about who we are as women, and what our unique personality tendencies mean to our success as entrepreneurs and financially independent human beings.
Agreeableness, one of the five “big traits” delineated by the OCEAN Personality Test, has been socially conditioned into women since, well …probably the beginning of women. Kimberly explains:
“As women, we are told to follow rules and get along—to make sure everyone is happy. What we notice is, women who tend to score higher on agreeableness put others’ needs before their own, so their levels of self-worth tend to be lower, as others come first.”
While Kimberly emphasises that on its face, agreeableness is certainly not a “bad” trait, the relationship between this tendency and other tendencies based on traits such as “openness” and “conscientiousness” can sometimes create the proverbial perfect storm of deferential, which under certain circumstances, can harm our potential as leaders and independent thinkers. Even the most successful women we know, whose lives on the surface, fall into the “have it all” category, are susceptible to being taken advantage of. In fact, that age-old story plays a role in how SheWorth was born.
Entrepreneur and successful business-woman Lara Smith left her executive position with one of Canada’s largest retail stores in order to start her own company, Lusomé, in 2011. Around the same time, she met a “larger than life business tycoon” and was swept up in a romance that would come to represent one of the biggest challenges of her life. After slowly and reluctantly opening up to family and friends, Lara left her relationship and begin to rebuild her self-worth.Even with a booming business, and a veritable million reasons to see herself as a successful, intelligent, valuable individual worthy of respect, it took time for Lara to build up her resilience, and she learned a lot about how her personality tendencies impact her choices.
“After taking my company to the other side and becoming this better stronger more resilient version of myself, Kimberly and I looked at each other and thought, ‘we have got to do something.’ There is something behind this.”
After starting SheWorth, Lara and Kimberly saw a surge in interest among women in countries all over the world. Their first journal, a guide to inspire, motivate and empower, sold-out in seven countries, they held several successful, energetic live events, and they’re now working on building out a digital platform that will allow women to assess their own self-worth. With a custom score detailing the traits of clients’ specific personalities, women will be able to select from science-based online programs to offer insights, and challenge their unique tendencies. Lara and Kimberly also have a book in the works, which Lara explains, “is a follow-up from the journal, but more prescriptive in terms of doing actual tasks.”
As it’s impossible to delve into the complex science and social conditioning behind self-worth in just one webinar, Lara and Kimberly offered us five key take-aways that will help all women navigate life’s challenges right away:
1. Look for opportunities to be brave.
Kimberly explains, “For some women in my practise who are highly agreeable, it can be hard to send back a latte at Starbucks if it’s wrong.” As women we are conditioned to avoid upsetting anyone, ever—but transforming that tendency into a celebration of a “brave moment” is key to unlocking our incredible strengths.
2. Stop out-sourcing our self-worth.
Our self-worth cannot be solely based on how many “likes” we get, or how we superficially measure up to others. While we can acknowledge that an outsourcing of our self-worth is built into our DNA from stone age times (i.e., our status amongst the tribe will always matter), these days we have swung the pendulum too far, and could do with re-balancing the scales. “Look inside and look at what really makes you worthy,” Kimberly says. “Self-worth as an inside job,” is a major tenet of the SheWorth message.
3. You promote what you permit.
“When it comes to business, we’re battling it out every day” Lara says. How we deal with day-to-day struggles, what we tolerate from our teams, bosses, colleagues, etc., and what we do not—says a lot about us as individuals. Consider what you want to permit, because once you do, “that’s on you.”
4. Fortify your village.
“Who we surround ourselves with is so important,” says Lara. “Especially for busy working moms, time is so precious.” Make sure the people you have in your life are adding to your energy, not taking away from it. Having that positive reinforcement is essential to improving your self-worth.
“Understanding yourself and others in your life, that’s your super power” Kimberly explains. There’s real value in exploring where you and the other people in your life fall in terms of the “big 5,” so you can endeavour to spend your energies better, and get more out of your relationships both personal and professional.
Lara and Kimberly: Thank you so much for sharing both your personal journeys, and your professional insights. We know this topic hit hard for many in our community, and while topics of mental health and personal worth are becoming refreshingly more acceptable, it can still be difficult for women (and everyone) to investigate their personalities and tendencies, and take real action on improving their navigation of the world.
As Lara and Kimberly shared, uncovering the particularities our unique personalities is a great first step to better understanding ourselves and how we relate to others. The OCEAN personality test is a science-based tool that can help you explore where you fall within the “big five” personality traits. Take the test here.
Until next time,