Are you trying to “fit in” or do you belong?


A few weeks ago, before I headed out on vacation, I spoke at the kickoff event for the very first Elevating Women in the Workplace program through the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

It was extremely inspiring to witness so many women who want to push through their own self doubts and fears, the stereotypes of women in their male dominated industries and to push through that glass ceiling.

The biggest theme I heard though was community.

This group of women weren’t aiming to “fit in” somewhere, they were actually looking for a place to belong. They joined this program because they were ready for a tribe of other like minded women who wanted to rise the bar in their own personal and professional lives.

In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown talks about the difference between “fitting in” and belonging:

The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess. 

How many times have you shape-shifted to “fit in” just so you felt you belonged?
This group of women were bold, authentic and were certainly over the “shape-shifting” in their lives. They were ready for real relationships and a true sense of belonging.

Strong community leads to higher levels of resilience.
According to Dr. Karen Reivich, a leading researcher on optimism and resilience at the University of Pennsylvania found that having “positive institutions”, such as community, helps us to be more resilient when times are tough, when we are accomplishing goals and when we are needing support in our personal lives.

Community offers us more than just friends.
Having a true sense of belonging ultimately helps us in our ability to make progress. They form safe spaces for us to talk about what we are passionate about, to fail and get back up, and to talk about real things happening in our personal and professional lives.

Where is your community?
This week’s challenge is to really think about the communities you are in:
Do you feel you belong to that community or are you trying to “fit in”?
Do you have a community that “sharpens the saw” on your career?
Is there a community you want to look into, join, speak up more in?

Coming back from vacation made me keenly aware of how much I appreciate my tribes. I belong to a few and they are extremely vital to my success. If you haven’t plugged into one if particular for your career, please do, it will push you further than you ever imagined!

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