My husband asked me recently, ‘Why do you enter awards programs?’ (For instance, the recent Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.)
To him I am already successful and he doesn’t understand why I see public acknowledgement of this as something that is necessary. He suspects that it’s something to do with validating myself but I can guarantee you that it is not.
I know I am good at what I do. I know my influence in my business is powerful (even when it’s subtle), and I know I have the right temperament and entrepreneurial mindset to continue to take Futurespace from strength to strength. However, I also know there are women out there who are more successful, more educated, more financially savvy, more everything than me, and chances are I may not even be shortlisted.
So why do I risk rejection and take a chance on awards programs?
For me, awards programs are not about validating myself, it is actually a great opportunity to reflect on my career so far, what I am doing day-to-day in the business and what my goals and aspirations are for the future. I actually don’t care so much about winning (although that is always wonderful if it happens).
For me there are three main reasons why it is important to enter awards, and why even if you lose, you should still feel like a winner.
It’s about the process
How often do we stop and reflect on the ‘why’ of what we do? How often do we take a moment to be grateful for the opportunities (and life lessons) that have come our way?
If you are anything like me you’re probably caught up in a mad 24/7 juggle of family, work, friends, career, relationship, health and wellbeing. It’s not often we have time or space in our lives for reflection, gratitude or strategising for the future.
Yet awards programs force us to stop and consider exactly these things. Without fail, the questions asked by an awards program are designed to help us remember just how far we’ve come, as well as to pause and consider what we want to achieve in the future.
It’s not about me
Unfortunately, as women we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. I have been on the end of some pretty severe bullying by other women, both as a teenager and as an adult. These experiences were some of the worst in my life and they completely floored me on every level. I came out the other end of these situations and I was more resilient, more authentic and more confident about my own self-worth.
My path to where I am today has been a series of difficult, scary, exhilarating, thrilling and terrifying events, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For me, entering awards programs is about sharing these experiences with other women who are also finding their own way. I want to demonstrate to other women that we all have something unique to offer the world, and that nice girls DON’T finish last.
Losing is inspiring
Nelson Mandela once said “I never lose. I either win or learn”. This pretty much sums it up for me. While winning an award is the icing on the cake, not winning presents a great opportunity.
Not winning gives you the opportunity to compare those who were shortlisted with the ultimate award recipient. Think about: what is it about their career, their education, their network and their mentors that have got them to where they are today? I am not talking about comparing yourself to fall short, but rather looking at where you perhaps need to fill out your experience or education in a way that is relevant to your path.
One of the aspects I love about most awards programs is being able to see where vastly different women’s passions and authenticity have taken them – to me this is incredibly motivating and inspiring.
So back to my husband’s question – why do I enter awards programs? We need these sorts of programs for all women (and men) and not just the winners. For despite how far we’ve come as women, there are still far too many times when we are unheard, ignored, overlooked and “mansplained” to.
Women’s award programs help us all have a voice. They help us all to keep dreaming, keep achieving and to keep being inspired by each other’s passion, vision and achievements. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Angela Ferguson was a finalist in the Private Sector category of the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards for her work leading Futurespace, a cutting edge interior design and architectural agency leading the way in creating the future spaces in which people will work, learn and live