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Powerful Women Never Let Other People's Expectations Define Them

It's your life. Don't wait to live your truth.

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Throughout the movie Wonder Woman, Diana Prince finds herself in situations where the expectations of others are at odds with the mission driving her. From her mother's protests of Diana leaving Themyscara to her human companion to Steve Trevor's constant instructions to not take action, Prince considers what she hears but doesn't let it stop her from pursuing peace.

Managing the expectations of others can be distracting when you are leading disruption. Everyone has an opinion about you, about the work you are doing and about how you are doing it. As you find your own way to navigate the murky and rough waters of other people's expectations, consider these three examples of turning someone else's opinions into the information you need to thrive.

Related: 10 Inspirational Quotes From Women Business Leaders

Accept who you are and listen to what drives you.

Penny Herscher, board director, is having the time of her life. Herscher's mission of giving love and seeking equality of opportunity for women in the workplace, particularly in the technology industry, drives her sense of adventure. After years of being a CEO in the tech male-dominated tech industry, Herscher is traveling the world in between board meetings. While I watch her adventures on social media, I can't help but be struck: This is what it looks like to live life on your own terms.

Herscher faced years of adversity for one simple reason: She was a female CEO in the semi-conductor industry.

"The sheer challenge of it, the continuous underestimation and micro-aggressions toward me fueled me," says Herscher. While Herscher was aware of barriers facing her, she chose to ignore them as she navigated her way to be the first women to take a semiconductor company public.

Herscher's advice to live a Wonder Woman life free of other's expectations: Accept who you are and take personal accountability to your personal development.

"I now accept that I am who I am, with my strengths and weaknesses and it's up to me to bridge the gap between my deficiencies and the needs of the people but I will probably not chance much now that I am over 50," says Herscher.

Related: These Female Entrepreneurs Created a Fake Male Co-Founder to Work Around Sexism. How Well It Worked Is Incredibly Eye Opening.

Being the best doesn't really matter.

Agustina Fainguersch, Managing Director at Wolox Silicon Valley and co-founder at Muzi, is a self-described math and science geek. For years, she searched for meaning in her life. Then, it hit her: Use what she loves to affect the changes she wants to see in the world.

"Part of my mission in life is to show everyone that we can leverage the use of technology to create good," says Fainguersch. She faced challenges in getting others to accept her mission. "Technology is not necessarily seen as a vehicle for social impact".

In fact, technology can work against a disruptor who wants to create positive change.

"Given that I had always studied STEM topics, I felt like an outside to real-life problems. The world didn't expect that a girl who liked math would end up doing something useful with it," says Fainguersch. The perception of others didn't stop her. "I figured that I am who I am, and it got me this far. My cause is good, and I surround myself with people who believe in me and who I believe in, too."

Letting the good voices overshadow the negative ones is exactly what a Wonder Women disruptor uses to get to achieve her vision.

Fainguersch's advice to live a Wonder Woman life free of other's expectations: Know that passion and grit are more important than star power.

"When you're doing what you like most, even if you're not the best person to do it, you'll find a way to make it happen. That mindset got me to where I am today."

Related: How to Succeed as a Female Leader Anywhere In the World

Feedback is not about you -- it's about the person delivering it.

One of the most common topics my clients want to work on is juggling the desire to be empathetic with the struggle of managing directives disguised as expectations. As leaders, Wonder Women seek feedback and input. Feedback is meant to help give insight into perception: what is perceived as working and not working.

Wonder women are able to neutralize feedback instead of internalize it. They consider feedback and use empathy to understand why the person's opinion exists. Empathy does not mean you need to take on someone's feelings; Wonder Women use empathy to holistically look for the drivers of opinions of the stakeholders around them. These objective views give you power to turn the expectations of others into information you can use to find the most effective paths to achieve your mission.

My advice to live a Wonder Woman life free of other's expectations: Set clear expectations of your own.

The challenge for Wonder Women often arises when the deliverers of feedback feel slighted when their input is not visibly followed. If this happens to you, be upfront when soliciting feedback and employing empathy. It's okay to share how the feedback will be used (as input for consideration) and explain why you are asking questions (to understand the reasoning behind the feedback).

Patti Fletcher

Written By

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Patti Fletcher, Ph.D., is the author of Disrupters: Success Strategies from Women Who Break the Mold (Entrepreneur Press 2018), gender equity advocate and expert authority on how to create a culture of inclusion to drive real business results. Fletcher is recognized as a futurist; a student of the inclusive talent economy and future of leadership; an innovation-through-inclusion expert; and a writer, advisor and speaker on topics related to driving progress through people. She has been featured in Time magazine, Al-Jazeera, Forbes, Newsweek, Xconomy and The Muse and advises corporate executives and board members from lean startups to Fortune 100s. Connect with Fletcher on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to vist the Workhuman blog for further insights.