By now, you’ve officially met the InnovateHER, and you know enough about her to know that on paper, she’s a rock star. You know what entrepreneurial personality traits she was born with and what skills complement her personality to make her a strong leader—and possibly the founder of a purpose-driven organization. She may even seem destined for leadership. Surprisingly, however, many of the InnovateHERs we interviewed expressed the feeling that leadership was not predestined for them—it was something that they fought hard for. In fact, every single woman that we interviewed cited immense difficulties and struggles on the path to success. We call these struggles InhibitHERs. Understanding them was crucial to understanding our InnovateHERs. In fact, they were so pervasive throughout our interviews that we decided to dedicate an entire section to unpacking them.
InhibitHERs are the things that hold you back from success. Think of them as emergency brakes that automatically activate just as you are accelerating your career. At times, they manifest in the form of internal belief barriers—such as low self-confidence, being too much of a team player, or always wanting clear structure before taking a risk. Internal InhibitHERs exist inside you and are challenges that you have internalized from life experiences or the way you were raised. These InhibitHERs can be overcome, but it requires discipline and support networks to do so.
InhibitHERs can also be external barriers. These are the speed bumps along the road that slow you down on your path to success. External InhibitHERs are not within your control—someone else designed the road, and now it’s up to you to figure out how to navigate accordingly and get to your destination on time with your vehicle intact. In Chapter 8, we will explain how external InhibitHERs are more present for women than for men—because in many ways, the path to success was designed for men, by men. We’ll talk about which external InhibitHERs appeared the most and why women of color and/or women who came from families that immigrated to the United States have additional barriers that are important to understand.
Without InhibitHERs, we would not need to build entrepreneurial skills. In fact, the more InhibitHERs there are, the more entrepreneurial the leader must be. That, in a nutshell, is why we believe that women have developed so many entrepreneurial skills throughout the years and why they are so effective at navigating the barriers to purpose-driven work.
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