As a globally-renowned sports presenter, Layla Anna-Lee knows what it takes to be a woman at the top of her game in a male-dominated industry. The world might be making great steps towards gender equality, but there’s still work to be done and, especially in the world of sports, success can feel like an uphill battle for women. Layla has dared to be free of the many barriers that threatened to hold her back and has succeeded against the odds. Here are her top tips so that you can too.
#1: Stop believing it’s a man’s world.
Visualise an equal world where you’re heard. Conceive of a world in which you’re respected amongst your peers. Imagine how you’d like that meeting to go down, how your office or place of work would be, if it was fair. Then act like it already is and be unapologetic about it.
I truly believe we allow so much more negativity into our lives because we are too conscious of living in a ‘man’s world’. When we believe in something, we accept it by default, whereas when we stop believing, we stop making excuses for it. It can be a woman's world if you believe it to be.
#2: Know your value and defend it like a tigress.
Be real with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Know your abilities and improve on them each day. Understand deeply where your faults lie - we all have them. I accept that there are many jobs where another person will be better than me. I’m honest enough to recognise where my competition may beat me. I also know without ego or exaggeration exactly what I’m damn good at and I hold my self-worth sky high. Take time to evaluate yourself honestly and don’t let anyone question your result.
#3: Physical strength helps deal with insecurities.
Being strong isn’t skin deep. Being able to trust your body gives immeasurable confidence and a workout in the morning really does make you feel powerful all day. Eating well has incredible emotional benefits. I always feel low when I’m stuffed full of carbs or crashing on sugar and more often than not, I get paranoid and insecure when I eat badly. In an environment where everyone around me is power hungry and testosterone fuelled, I really don’t want to be drugged down on carbs and physically weak. I workout to be strong and to feel strong.
#4: Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
Instagram, Twitter, magazines, the way you hate your thighs, trying to massage cellulite away and the bikini body diet you’re on are all distractions from your real purpose. These are all things that serve to waste your time and set men at an advantage. Your male colleague who’s looking for the same promotion as you, is he spending fifteen mins choosing a filter for Instagram right now? Is your competition spending an hour choosing an outfit? Women face many more pressures to look perfect. We put a great deal of unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect. The job you want probably doesn’t require your arms to have that firming cream massaged into it each morning. So don’t waste your time. Don’t fall for it. Don’t get distracted.
Reading the advice is the easy part, now it’s your turn to apply it. Dare To Be Free of the expectations and barriers that hold you back and become the woman you want to be.