From climbing the corporate ladder to closing business deals to leading their household, ambitious women have skillfully assumed the characteristics that enable them to excel in every way. Yet the double-edged sword of their resilience, drive and devotion to others often becomes what prevents them from seeking help for themselves. Many accept the myth that asking for help along their journey is a sign of weakness, ignorance, or incompetence, so they go it alone.
Author and podcaster Elayne Fluker believes this mindset is the reason so many women end up depressed, overwhelmed, isolated and unfulfilled. To combat this alarming trend, Fluker helps women learn how to build their own networks, make meaningful connections, and understand how even some of the most successful women in the world, like Oprah Winfrey and Spanx founder Sara Blakely, have cultivated tremendous support networks that helped them achieve their dreams.
Fluker is a long-time advocate for women’s mental health, economic empowerment and the ability to control your own narrative. As an educator, Fluker travels the world to speak about these issues at institutions including the United Nations, the Women Presidents’ Organization, LinkedIn, NYU, Columbia, Howard University and the Essence Culture Fest. She has also been a featured guest on notable media outlets such on the Today show, Nightline, CNN, HLN, BET, VH1, Inside Edition, Extra and Sirius XM. Yet it is her popular podcast, Support is Sexy, where she has interviewed more than 500 women entrepreneurs and learned the most about the role support plays in the success of high-achieving women.
Her own journey led to uncovering a startling realization in therapy, one which linked her childhood experiences to her inability to receive. Fluker’s parents demonstrated their love by being generous givers to extended family and friends navigating traumatic experiences – drug addiction, domestic abuse, incarceration and more. “I had to unlearn that ‘give, give, give’ mentality without asking in return. I had to learn how to ask or even just to accept support,” explains Fluker. “Sometimes it’s not even that we don’t ask. We just don’t realize help is there, so we push it away.”
This discovery became the foundation of her mission. To help unapologetically ambitious women get over what she calls “I Got It!” Syndrome, embrace support and know that having it all doesn’t mean doing it all alone. Her new book Get Over “I Got It” is the guide she hopes will help entrepreneurs, top executives and rising stars give themselves permission to ask for support and release the fear of appearing weak or incompetent.
Based on the lessons learned from her lived experiences and interviewing women from all walks of life, Get Over “I Got It” demonstrates the power of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, open, soft, and human. One woman, Lisa Brown Alexander, shares in the chapter, “Remove Your Mask” about the stresses and anxieties of keeping up appearances when you are uber successful. Then there is a part in the book where another interviewee, Dr. Zoe Shaw talks about the importance of reviewing your list of priorities to decide what matters most and aligning your actions with this everyday. Describing all of the women who contributed to her book, Fluker says, “All of them have these different stories about how figuring out how to accept support really changes not only their career trajectory, but also their lives, whether it’s related to health or relationships, and then, of course, career success.”
While many of these women were accustomed to powering forward to achieve, the book is about leaning back for a second. “I believe that’s what an empowered woman looks like, someone who’s not afraid to step back. Whether she is doing that for herself, like I need to take care of myself or she’s stepping back for her business,” Fluker describes. “Then she’s the kind of woman who can prioritize, who can set her intention and be really focused and really create magic in the world without so much stress and anxiety around it.”
Here Fluker shares what ambitious women can do to welcome more support in their lives and why cultivating meaningful connections are crucial not only to your long-term success, but to your peace of mind.
Believe That Support Is Sexy
Struggling in her own life to accept help, ‘support is sexy’ became a mantra that Fluker initially created to remind her of the benefits of not doing it alone. Repeating it often when she would have an adverse reaction to the idea of receiving from others, she recognized that the bold statement resonated with her friends as well. “Just this idea of thinking of something sexy as something you want to be close to, something you want to be next to, whether that’s a person, a dress, a sexy vacation, a sexy apartment, or whatever it is,” describes Fluker. “When thinking of something as sexy, I think of it as something you’re willing to snuggle up to.”
Know Your Anchors From Your Engine
A concept from another woman featured in the book, Michelle Villalobos, is about recognizing those in your life who can help propel you forward (engines) and others who may keep you at a standstill (anchors). “What I love to make sure to mention to people is that don’t think of anchors as the same as quote-unquote haters because haters are easy to ignore. Your anchors usually are people who love you or who care about you or who want to keep you safe or want to toss you out of something that seems too risky for them,” describes Fluker. “So a lot of us are sharing our ideas or our dreams with people who just don’t have the capacity to hold that vision.” Conversely, engines are your mentors, coaches or your girlfriends who understand your journey. “You will have different people in your life and maybe at different stages who are your engines and they support you. That support sometimes is holding you to your highs,” she explains. Fluker recommends writing down your list of engines and anchors to decipher who to reach out to depending on your current situation.
Ask For H.E.L.P
Providing a simple framework for women to ask for the support they need, Fluker created the acronym H.E.L.P. The “H” stands for “having it all doesn’t mean doing it alone”. Advice for go-getters who are too busy propelling themselves forward to bring anyone along for the ride. “A lot of us are doing it by ourselves, choosing to do it by ourselves, to suffer because we think we have to do it that way to prove something to someone,” cautions Fluker. With this, she has recognized that the language she uses must change from “you’ve got this” to “let’s figure out how we can get you support for this”. The “E” is to “ask empowering questions”, which helps you to silence self-defeating questions in order to open yourself to taking some kind of action that will move you forward. The “L” is to “live that question and let go of the how”. This letter is dedicated to high-earning women, those who are entrepreneurs and moms who are always expected to have the answers. “It’s hard for us to be comfortable just having the question and not having the answer. We want the answer to show up eventually, but we have to be willing to live with that question,” describes Fulker of this scary and vulnerable place to be in. Lastly, the “P” in the framework is about “believing in the possible.” Having the optimistic belief that the support you need will show up for you.
Drive Large-Scale Cultural Change At Work
Fluker encourages companies to cultivate a culture of support to enable higher productivity and a higher morale. “Studies have shown now that women make better leaders and good investors in our community,” says Fluker. “So making sure that the women in your organization or your community are supported in the ways that they need to be to be successful and to do all the things that they need to do in order to feel fulfilled at work and acknowledged and seen is important. This includes pay.” While women continue to earn less, on average, for the same performance as men, and remain underrepresented in top jobs, Fluker urges companies to be intentional about removing barriers to create the kind of work environment where women can thrive. “There is a bottom line real benefit to this within your organization of making sure the women in your organization feel supported.”
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