You walk into an upscale networking event that you've been itching to go to.
You were ready to make some higher quality connections, but suddenly you find yourself in full-out comparison mode.
Is your outfit up to snuff? Are you too old? Too young? Do you have enough credentials to do what you are doing? Why does this always happen? You're precisely where you want to be, yet you can't control that constant self-doubt.
Women are famous for this. We have mastered the art of being mean to ourselves—continually comparing who we are and what we do to others without any perspective.
This kind of negative thinking stops us from showing up as a badass in our life and our business.
Becoming A Badass
Now, let me first clarify what a real badass woman actually is. Media has traditionally portrayed her as a woman who you can't say "no" to. She's callus, maybe a little manipulative, and will stop at nothing to get the sale. She works 80 hours a week and never misses an opportunity to sell, sell, sell.
This describes the masculine model of “push," the belief that going for something bigger means living with discomfort and pain. This is the hustle and grind approach that leads to burnout and illness.
To me, a badass is someone who knows her value, is at ease with her body, and is proud of how she shows up in the world. She attracts people to work with her, compelling them with her passion. Never forcing things, she seems to create as if by magic, all the while having time for friends and family.
Do you know anyone in particular that is coming to mind? Maybe. Maybe note. There might be the odd woman who is born with these talents. But the good news for the rest of us is that becoming a badass is something we can all do.
The Dominatrix Way
For me, I began my journey to becoming a badass when I became a Dominatrix.
This line of work is not most people's first choice on the path to self-discovery, but it's who I had to become in order to stand in my power. This role changed how I showed up in my business and in my life.
If you have only ever seen the Hollywood version of a Dominatrix, it would seem that it is about power over another person. Yet I can tell you from personal experience, everything that happens in the dungeon is completely pre-negotiated and centered around the client.
The Dominatrix is in charge of holding the space and controlling all aspects of the scene so that the client can surrender fully. That surrender allows the client to forget about the pressures of life and just allow someone else to be in charge for a change. It takes courage to let go in that way, and it takes strength to hold that scene for another person. A Dominatrix is, in fact, a high-level service position!
I had to quickly learn how to authentically be the one in charge, to be confident. Faking it would simply not do. I had to become that person.
For almost two decades, since becoming a Dominatrix, I have been managing a chain of wellness centers and now operate my own professional coaching and speaking practice. Bringing those skills from the dungeon into my business has been invaluable. Looking back on my failures, I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong when I wasn't using those skills—missteps and old habits.
The good news is that you don't have to put on the black pleather and boots in order to learn from the archetype of the Dominatrix and become more of a badass in your life.
1. Never Say Sorry
When you are in the dungeon, and your submissive is blindfolded and fixed to an apparatus while you are flogging them, the very worst thing they could ever hear is “Oops!" You will instantly ruin the scene, and all of the trust that they had in you will be gone in a second.
It is the same thing in business!
Constantly apologizing will put you out of your power. Even worse, it will make others will begin to question your expertise and their decision to work with you.
Instead of “sorry," start every email you write for the next week with “Thank you."
Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for being so amazing to work with.
Each “thank you" releases a tiny hit of dopamine for the client and that helps to disperse any possible frustration. Most importantly, it keeps you standing firmly in your power.
2. Be Willing To Lose
Very few of us have the time or money to just throw it away. The irony is that the harder you work to cling to these things, the more likely you are to lose them.
The lesson we should take from incredibly successful people—the Oprahs and the Elon Musks of the world—is that it takes great leaps of faith to make it big. They've learned how to go all-in and win, without putting attachments on the outcome.
When we try to force something to happen, we are less connected to what is actually happening in the now and are hindered from being responsive to what is right in front of us.
The Dominatrix takes time to script out a scene based on all the elements that were previously negotiated. But when she steps in the dungeon, she releases the need for that script to play out exactly as planned. She must stay present to what is actually happening. Things rarely go as scripted, but when she is fully present they will remain on track. This way, the submissive is able to relax knowing that she is fully in charge.
So make your plans, draw up the map of what you would like to happen, and then be willing to throw it all out the moment it no longer works.
3. Negotiate Like A Dominatrix
My time studying to become a Dominatrix taught me some incredible mindset skills, and negotiation was at the top of that list.
In the dungeon, every single detail is discussed prior to starting a scene. You talk about what is okay, what is not okay, and what is a not right now—for both participants! Only when both parties agree on something can it be explored in the scene. There is no room for compromise; it is win/win or nothing.
To become a badass, you can learn from the Dominatrix and create your own list of what you are willing and not willing to do and what is a maybe (under the right circumstances).
Having your list drawn up ahead of time will stop you from falling back into old patterns and will allow you to achieve more of your goals in the long term.
The lesson here isn't that life can start feeling easy. Life is always going to get uncomfortable. But I invite you to learn how to ride the waves in a way that will bring greater ease and less long-term damage to you. Like a Dominatrix, stand in the inner power, listen to what needs to be done, and reap the rewards.
This piece was originally published on October 21, 2018.
She walks into a room ready for her presentation. She wants to land this new client and has worked weeks on it. She heads to the 35th floor of the tallest building on the block knowing she has documentation that is sure to impress. The conference room has a 20-foot long table surrounded by executives in blue suits, button-down shirts, pencil skirts, and blazers.
At this point, she realizes she didn't take into consideration the other important component of her presentation... she is not dressed appropriately.
Is it true that there is power in clothing? Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive?
For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe that clothing can greatly impact first impressions and make a lasting impact on anyone you interact with. Like it or not, people will judge you on how you look and they will make both conscious and subconscious decisions about you based on what you're wearing… Is she trustworthy? Is she the expert we need? Will she fit in our corporate culture?
Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.
After all, if you were hiring a financial advisor, and one walked in with a pair of jeans and the other in a pair of trousers and blazer, who would you trust with your money? Even if you don't realize what you're doing when you interact with people, there may be more going on beneath the surface. It's something to think about for sure.
Here's another example, let's say you want to hire a party planner for an event. You meet with the first candidate, and she is wearing a wrinkled shirt and her fingernails are chipping and half-painted. Whereas candidate number two walks in and has on a pencil skirt, pumps, and silk blouse. Who do you think would pay more attention to the details associated with your party?
In 2019, WWD wrote about the psychological effects clothing has on a person:
It is said that clothing is what makes and defines a person. What you wear tells others what you are and makes a statement about your taste, character and individuality. It gives an insight into your nature, whether you are casual or formal, playful or serious, cool or just composed. Whether you are attending a job interview, out on a date or just strutting by the beach, your apparel tells us so much about you at a simple glance.
We know that it takes 5-7 seconds for a person to subconsciously form an opinion about you. Our eyes take in how you look; after all, what you're wearing will influence how you are perceived. How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?
How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?
And it goes way beyond the external. There is scientific data that shows how an individual feels differently when dressed in a variety of styles. In an article from Research Gate, they found that, "Fashion choices can affect both self-image, the impression that you convey to others and in turn, the way in which people behave towards you."
Have you ever heard of the term "enclothed cognition"? It refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to adopt the traits and properties they associate with the clothes they wear. In a study on the psychology of clothing, that same article as above reports that, "Participants judged women to be more forceful in job interviews and were more likely to recommend them for hiring when they were dressed in a more masculine style compared with a more feminine style," and that "Both men and women are attracted to stylish clothing that fits them well, makes them feel well-dressed and looks current."
On some level, we may all agree with that statement.
Naturally, as a personal stylist, I am a true believer in the power of clothes. I have seen my clients' exhilaration as they take in their transformation, brought about by an outfit, a new style, and clothes that look incredible on them. I have also witnessed physical changes like their facial expressions, huge smiles, laughter, sparkling eyes, and even a change in the way they walk. It's almost like there has been a shift in attitude toward their inner beauty, which has increased because they feel and look amazing and confident.
Although most of us are no longer strutting our way to the boardroom, the psycholigcal power of clothing is still necessary and relevant, especially now that we're confined to our home offices. Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry. Not only will your peers perceieve you as more professional and more put-together, but I am sure you will also feel better, be more alert, and have more energy.
Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry.
I'm not saying you need to look like a superstar every second of every day. However, I want you to think about the positive impact well-fitting, stylish clothes can have on both others' perceptions of you as well as your inner-confidence and intrinsic behavior.