Here’s a question for you: Do you see yourself as the star of your own show?
Generations of conditioning to be selfless and give all of ourselves to those we love and respect, has resulted in a strong sense that we’re “the supporting act”, both at home and at work. No main role. No lead. No whopping standing ovation.

But this old narrative no longer serves us. Alarmingly, it makes us believe we have limited choices – and that financial freedom and choice freedom, are just dreams.

If you’re going to take the lead role in any area of your life (this does not mean you have to be the CEO of a multinational, although you may want to be), you have to shift how you see yourself; to elevate how you think and act – or you will remain in the chorus. And it’s almost International Women’s Month: a great time to start.

What does elevation look like?

Elevation looks like:

  •  Honing your skills and making yourself supportable (not just supportive).
  •  Leaning in, so the other members of the cast and the crew can uplift you as you give your best performance.
  •  Raising your self-worth – how you view yourself is how others will view and treat you.
  • Investing in yourself, so there’s sufficient security to carry you between “shows”.

Now you may be thinking, “But Nikki… What about that glass ceiling?”

Yes. It’s there. It’s real. But to what extent are you helping to drive that narrative, even subconsciously, by thinking small? Part of seeing yourself centre-stage, and not just supporting, is seeing the ceiling and then entirely ignoring it.

Let’s start by crafting a different script…

Re-write the script

Although I’ve been consciously writing a ‘Brand-of-One’ script in my business and personal life for many years, it took my husband’s tragic death in 2017 for me to truly see myself differently. I realised that I needed to create financial empowerment to be free to make the choices that would keep me in the spotlight; growing; and able to support myself and my family.

Think about it: Just because you can and do make money by working, doesn’t mean your money is working for you. It needs direction and leadership. You’re the star of your show, so either direct it yourself or use an ethical financial adviser.

By the way, most women do not have a financial plan because they see themselves as the supporting cast, or tell themselves that money is complicated and financial freedom unachievable. Do these mindsets apply to you?

As a sole breadwinner and single mom (who did not inherit a fortune from a massive life insurance policy), I had to change the money plotline in my script to elevate myself. I began to think and act as someone in a lead role should.

Seven lessons

Here are seven lessons I have learned that will help you step into the spotlight, instead of remaining in the chorus in your life:

  1. Create a financial plan with a financial adviser. I asked a lot of questions to shift my belief that money was scary and complicated. If, like the old me, you’re generating a decent income but not investing the profits, your system needs a re-think.
  2. Buy the share, not the handbag. How are you going to enable your future plans or make different choices should you reach a crossroad in your life, at work or in your relationship? As a lead role, you may have to support yourself between shows. Make sure you empower yourself with investments so that you can.
  3. Pay your future self by putting money into investments every month, not just into policies. I use the intention and discipline of the debit order, so it’s not just about investing if I have money left over.
  4. Don’t leave money on the table. Do you accept the first offer when promoting your work or your value? In a negotiation, calmly hold your line or take time to think the offer over; consult with those you trust and counter-offer. Most women don’t know that this is par for the course for men in a salary/package negotiation.
  5. Stop being so negotiable. When you hold your value, it shows you believe in yourself. It took not having my husband’s salary in the wings for me to really ‘get’ this concept; to stop being so negotiable and acquiescing to requests for discounts. What you charge, or the salary you ask for, is not based on your time but on the value you bring: skills, expertise, experience, potential and insights.
  6. Keep investing in your repertoire. Professional and personal development go hand in hand. Always be boosting and enhancing your skills, knowledge and experiences to stay relevant and to increase your value and employability.
  7. Prioritise where you invest your time, energy and money. This needs regular auditing. Are you getting a return on your spend, whether it’s in the form of income, promotion, experience, satisfaction, rapturous applause, or even joy? Use my Prioritisation template to help you with this. These decisions need to align with your values (what’s important to you), your financial plan, and what leading role you are working towards.

This International Women’s Month, re-script ”empowerment” for yourself and the women around you, and use my seven lessons for elevation from the chorus to the lead role.

Rewriting your script and taking conscious action (even baby steps) will bring you financial freedom and choice freedom. Together, they will carry you through and between “shows”.

What is holding you back from consistently investing in you? Whose permission are you waiting for? Live by this mantra:

“The only permission I need to take the lead, is my own.”

What is one thing you’re going to do today, to stand in the centre of that stage?

This International Women’s Month, I wish you much love on your journey to empowerment.

Much love,
Nikki Bush
Human Potential and Parenting Expert helping you to win at work and life

Enjoy the podcast of the Azania Mosaka Show on 702, where we discussed Exploring how women can show up authentically with resilience and strength