Forget about Likability!

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“I think that what our society teaches young girls, and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women and self-professed feminists to shrug off, is that idea that likability is an essential part of you, of the space you occupy in the world, that you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes to make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy, because you have to be likable.

And I say that’s bullshit.

So what I want to say to young girls is forget about likability. If you start thinking about being likable, you are not going to tell your story honestly, because you are going to be so concerned with not offending, and that’s going to ruin your story.”

Watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian novelist and outspoken feminist in a speech at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards.

And this last line is so precious:

“The world is such a wonderful, diverse, multi-faceted place that there’s somebody who’s going to like you. You don’t have to change yourself.”

This resonates so much with my experience as an executive coach for women in Leadership and Public Speaking, for Women Pitching their Start-Ups, for Gen Y or Women after fifties looking for their true voice. They all want to change in order to fit in the corporate world, when the answer lies in accepting fully who they are and speaking whole-heartedly.

My mission as a coach is not to change women or to “fix” them. Most of the time, it’s about seeing how powerful and brilliant they already are and holding that place strongly and long enough for them to accept to face it as well.It’s about letting them flourish and blossom, just like the pink hyacinth at the top of this blog.

This requires a total rewire of the brain, of our conditioning into passive, pleasing and perfectionist creatures.

This requires to be brave and vulnerable and to give ourselves the permission to talk about what matters most for us, without waiting for external validation. It’s time to stop “twisting yourself into shapes to make yourself likable”, to monitor yourself into looking more “feminine” or more “masculine”. The quest of perfection is a lost battle for women and girls. It’s time we accept to let the world see us as we really are, imperfect, vulnerable, creative, diverse and amazingly brave and powerful!

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