Author Rachel Hollis grew up very poor in a conservative family in the South. Women had rigid roles, which Hollis was determined to break out of.
And she did. Hollis is not only the author of the best-selling, self-help book “Girl, Wash Your Face," she's the CEO of lifestyle brand Chic Site, founder of Los Angeles events business The Hollis Company and a mother of four.
Hollis, who recently wrote “Girl, Stop Apologizing,” sat down with MSNBC’s Mariana Atencio to talk about breaking barriers. The women agreed that self-doubt is a huge obstacle for women trying to secure a seat at the table.
Here are some tips from Hollis on overcoming self-doubt, wherever you may come from.
1. Know your why.
Hollis’ drive stemmed from her family’s socioeconomic circumstances.
“I had come out of an environment where my parents were constantly fighting with each other, not being able to afford clothes or food or the bills or where's rent money going to come from, and I did not want that kind of life,” said Hollis. “So I had this passion in my heart.”
That passion became her “why,” and after she succeeded, her “why” changed.
“It needs to be something that is so strong and so powerful to you that you will not take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Hollis. “I used that to propel me out of this environment I had come from. And then once I had started to achieve success, how do I take what I've learned and give that to the community around me?”
2. Don’t rely on anyone else to motivate you.
If you need a nudge to chase your dreams, you may not get there, said Hollis.
“You've got to find it inside of yourself,” she continued. “If you need outside motivation to be the person you want to be, your chances of that are very small. Because you're looking to the environment around you to make you the person you want to become.”
3. Face obstacles head-on.
Atencio said that ambition can only take you so far, given the inequities in our society.
“…Even though you have the willpower, sometimes we don't have the access or the opportunities in our communities,” said Atencio.
Hollis, meanwhile, cited her own background and obstacles that she overcame.
“I didn't grow up with access. I didn't grow up with money. I didn't grow up with resources. And the idea ... I get a lot of flack for this, this idea that anyone can have anything if they're willing to work for it. But I really believe that to the marrow of my bones … In fact, I think the strongest people that are in the world are the ones who walked through something difficult, who've come out of opposition and have found a way to rise above.”
4. Work hard and forget what you can’t control.
Women tend to harp on things that they can’t control in the workplace, such as other peoples’ perception of them.
“We can only really control two things in this world: our attitude and our effort. And you can't control how people treat you. You can't control the place you find yourself in, but you can control your response to it,” Hollis said. “I think that a lot of my success is truly because I have worked my butt off.”
Hollis continued: “So I might not be the smartest in the room. I might not have the money, I might not be connected, but I will outwork everybody and I still have that inside of me…Work looks like reading the books, doing the research, listening to podcasts, arming yourself with the information and knowledge that is going to take your life to the next level.”
5. Leave the guilt at the door.
Women tend to feel guilty when they’re ambitious, according to Atencio, which can be exacerbated by cultural pressure.
“That's what runs in our veins as Latinas, is this work ethic,” she said. “But sometimes in our culture … we are told we shouldn't be as ambitious or dream as big as the men. And then when we do, we are made to feel guilty about it.”
Hollis had a different experience growing up in the Pentecostal Church in the south, but career success was definitely not encouraged in women, she said. Yet, she knew she was ambitious deep inside.
“I for years carried guilt and shame about not feeling like I was right….I lived my life in a way that was small. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable,” Hollis said.
However, Hollis couldn’t ignore her calling. Her drive and her faith led her to drop the act and pursue her dreams as an author and media maven.
“So for me, the biggest things that I let go of...is I refuse to apologize for my dreams. I refuse to apologize for this idea of where I want to go or who I want to be.”
6. Don’t try to be like other people.
While there are some great role models out there for success, women should embrace their unique selves, according to Hollis.
“We're all so different,” said Hollis, referring to women she has met all over the world through her book. “Some of us are stay-at-home mamas, some of us are CEOs, some of us are in college, some of us are immigrants, some of us are chefs, some of us are lawyers. There's every kind of woman and there's no one right way to be. Stop feeling sorry because you don't have her life or her hair or her body, you are worthy and you are enough as you are today.”