A Normal Day At The Pool.
The Torpedo Ft. The Impostor
I love swimming. I am comfortable in the water, with crawl especially. I feel strong and never tired.
They are not many people around me who have learnt to swim efficiently, so they usually are not enjoying it. Hence the fact I have been practicing alone most often. Or with my mom. My mom’s been my unofficial coach for years - still is, when we’re together. She’s the only person who swims longer than I do, and alongside whom I feel pretty lame. (Maybe I should swim with more talented folks!)
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I don’t have a very steady practice, but last July I enjoyed going to the swimming pool few mornings a week, for a regular 1200m. While approaching the pool trying to fix my hair under that stupid swimming cap, a quick glance at the lines and the fateful question: Fast or Slow track?
The Slow Track vs The Fast Track
No matter the time of the day, I have been observing that trend: women who swim fast head to the Slow track first. Men who swim slow head to the Fast track first.
The first time there, I was no different. I didn’t take time to evaluate the speed of people in the water: instead, I just came across that big word “FAST” on the sign and froze, as if Michael Phelps could unexpectedly show up in his Speedos, and thus this line had to remain ready for that eventuality.
After a few laps on the slow track, I cursed that decision and moved to the fast one, just to realize that even there, I was among the fastest. I am not saying I was training with iron.(wo)men athletes, alright? Just that on a random day, I was usually among the fastest. And as every swimmer knows, it is so freaking awful to stay on a line where speed is inconsistent between swimmers. You either have to slow down every other lap (and kill your rhythm), wait a few seconds on one side of the pool to give space to the person ahead of you (and kill your rhythm), or swim under / overtake the slow specimen (and better go fast, cause someone’s coming in front of you).
NB: Being the slowest is no more enjoyable since you feel that pressure from all parts.
That’s right. Picking up your track is a fine science. Hence the staring x evaluating part. Hence putting your ego aside to go where you belong that day. Confidently.
Yet another example of women x confidence?
I read Lean in close to a decade ago, and still remember this anecdote when Sheryl (at the time Facebook’s COO) is excited to promote one of her team players, but the latter kindly turns the offer down, uncomfortable. When Sheryl digs into her reasons for doing so, this woman ends up admitting she then wouldn’t be able to make space in her life for a kid. She didn’t even have a partner yet.
What’s about that turning-down-challenges in anticipation? What’s about that self-proclaimed I-am-probably-not-the-best-fit? You may be familiar with the now famous conclusions of an internal report from Hewlett Packard:
Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.
This is where I come from. What I find interesting is to dig into the whys, and this article does it well:
Is it only a lack of confidence?
A study across 1000 professionals, men and women, asked the question: “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?”
Among women, the main reasons were:
Wasted time and energy
Risk of failure
Follow the rules
All three of these barriers, which together account for 78% of women’s reasons for not applying, have to do with believing that the job qualifications are real requirements, and seeing the hiring process as more by-the-book and true to the on paper guidelines than it really is.
So again, why did women take these job requirements more seriously than men?
Someone said role models?
There’s a workplace bias (🐔🔄🥚?), where, according to a McKinsey report:
Men are often hired or promoted based on their potential, women for their experience and track record.
School school school…
“Girls are strongly socialized to follow the rules and in school are rewarded, again and again, for doing so.”
“Women overestimate the importance of [their] formal training and qualifications, and underutilize advocacy and networking.”
What can we do to change that trend? Maybe we can start by paying attention to the above.
Towards boldness in our lives 🥂
Towards fast track for fast swimmers. 🏊🏻♀️✌️
Til next time,
You’ve made it to the end of this newsletter, here’s my gift to you. I know.
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Your willingness to challenge your learnt behaviors is really inspiring ! Thank you souch for this great read.
I have grown in a culture where challenging myself, test my abilities, strength, dexterity, cleverness, whatever, was fun and desirable. So I was always intrigued (when not sad) to see women usually choose the "humble option".
(I'm not saying that the competitive mindset doesn't come with its load of difficulties as well, always comparing yourself to someone else could actually be among the worsts.)
It almost seemed to me that there was also a factor of peer pressure among women over in the decision to choose the slow lane over the fast one.
Is it true ? Did you feel something of this type ?