Guest opinion: Be your own best advocate
By Kirsten Anderson | Founder, Equitas Solutions
I want every woman to try on the title “Advocate” for a little while to see how they feel. I predict it will be a positive, empowering experience. I undertook the title a year ago when I made the decision to start my own business and work to change the world for the better. I was already doing the work of an advocate and taking on the title felt natural. I own it and wish more women would remember they are already an advocate – for themselves.
The title advocate may seem lofty, yet women are already advocating! They may not recognize it, and most are not doing it as well as they could or should. I see many women take on too much work, overextend themselves personally and become worn down to the point of complacency and exhaustion on many issues that directly affect them. Here are a few keys to being your own best advocate:
1. Work to educate others. Those around you should realize your worth and the weight of your contributions. If they don’t, work to enlighten them on the important things you are doing, why you are doing them and how you are an integral member of the team. It is not bragging; it is a fact, and you have the information to back it up.
2. Do outreach. Step outside your comfort zone. Take opportunities you would usually not take on. Do not let fear get in the way. It will help you be more self-aware and stretch your limits. You will learn more about yourself in the process.
3. Be intentional. Say “no” more often. This is hard for women to do for a variety of reasons. Remember that saying “no” to something should not signal regret, but rather an opportunity to look out for yourself and your precious time and energy. It should also signal focus – when you say “no” to things you are only semi-interested in or only remotely passionate about, it will leave room for the absolutely necessary and important things for which you are advocating.
4. Fight for what is right – for you. You know what truly matters in your life and you know the reasons you do what you do. Always keep that in mind when making decisions and never waver.
Advocating more for yourself is not hard and it can be extremely rewarding. Be your own best advocate and step up. You will not regret it.
Kirsten Anderson is on a mission to end workplace harassment through education. She found herself an unlikely advocate for those facing harassment in the workplace after she took a stand against her former employer: the state of Iowa. On May 17, 2013, she was fired from her job as communications director for Iowa Senate Republicans after filing her fourth complaint about repeated harassment and retaliatory behavior by staff and lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse. She sued the state of Iowa and Iowa Senate Republicans for wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation, and won. Anderson has a degree in broadcast journalism and is a 2008 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute graduate. She’s president-elect of the Central Iowa chapter of the Association of Women in Communications and in her free time enjoys sharing the hilarious random things her 8-year-old son says and attending any live music show with her husband. She can be reached at Kirsten@KirstenAnderson.org.