Lisa Curtis, LCSW, CASAC, HWC

What it Takes to be a Badass Boss

What does it take to be a Badass Boss? Do you even want to be that? To get there, I had to shed a piece of how the world sees me and show up as the Badass Boss I not only need to be, but am. The irony being of course that I ask my clients to show up and be their authentic selves every day, with the full knowledge that there are roadblocks at nearly every step. In May, those same obstacles appeared for me as well. No one is immune from such hurtles, regardless of what we’re trying to accomplish. Thankfully, there are tried and true strategies to help with the task.

Let me start by saying that, for all I rail against it, there are times when I can be very much the people-pleasing, obligation meeting sort. I tend not to go too far over the speed limit nor pay my bills late. It’s just the way I was built. This does not always line up well with the side of me that is very much too the point, tenacious with a streak of ‘fairness’ thrown in for good measure. Perhaps you have some of those same qualities or maybe you find yourself with a very different sort personality ingredients that also leave you wondering how to show up in a way you’ve not previously challenged yourself with. 

Step one is reasonably easy to state, hard to live; accept who you are and how you’re made up. Trying to be, forcing yourself to be, something or someone you’re not isn’t going to work. It won’t work for the longer haul and whenever we’re trying to make a change we need to think about a more distant vision. For me, this meant that it took a good amount of reflection and conversation with peers to know just what was possible.

It’s handy to make sure you know what your motives are for making the change you’re seeking and what it means to be a ‘badass boss lady’ as you do it. If your drive is coming from something selfish or short term, it’s likely going to be harder to keep going when the going gets a bit rougher. Being a boss ~ whether that’s in business or the boss of your life ~ requires you to keep not only that long view I talked about a moment ago but also a broader view, as if you were on the roof looking down at the situation (but don’t jump! It will all work out!)

Get a team around you, whether that’s friends, family or peers who know what you’re doing. Do not, under any circumstances, keep a close circle of naysayers. Just. Don’t. Do. That. To. Yourself. What makes this statement so strong? Those Debbie Downers are the types who will jump on the opportunity to let you know when you’ve misstepped and how disastrous that move was. You and I really don’t need that. Very much like having a bonsai tree, I have worked hard in the past few years to gather around close those who support me and have allowed those who can’t to go on their way. Yes, it feels personal (and it is) but in our drive to be the badass boss of ourselves and our futures, it’s part of what it takes. The people you trim away are perhaps lovely and great people but their role in your life is likely over now so best to say that outloud rather than drag something on that need not be. 

Find your own way to be tenacious, whatever that means for you. I take a long time to make some decisions but once I do? Step back because really, I am not going to stop until I’ve reached some sort of conclusion or my goal. Tenacity to me means that you keep going. Slowly, steadily and repeatedly. In my most recent round of “show me how long you can stay focused” I made a call and sent an email out on the topic in question each Friday for over 12 weeks. Nice, general, nothing huge and flashy, just repeatedly sent a note asking for a situation report or status report, whatever you’d care to call it. 

When you are asked, (and you will be asked,) what your goal is, be ready to articulate it. Knowing the ‘why’ and ‘what makes this come about,’ makes all the difference in the world when you face that push-back you will face. When I was asked this question for the first time by the people I was stating a need to, I stammered my answer. To me, in my mind and in my discussions with peers, it was an obvious request but to those I was making the request of? Well, they didn’t see it that way. While I will admit it took me a hot minute to get it together, the next time I was asked you have got to know I had my answer edited down to a fine statement that neither apologized nor gave room for debate.  

And finally, that all important skill of apologizing. Apologize only when you’ve said or acted in a way you wish you hadn’t. We tend to say, “sorry” a great deal. As if we need to ask for some sort of forgiveness when we state a fact, make a logical point or express a need. The non-apology apology is not called for here either, “I’m sorry you feel that way…” If you feel the urge to make that statement, count to five and wait. Silence will often do the work for you. 

I can not tell you how my most recent stepping up has been resolved because, as of this writing, it hasn’t been resolved. Now that I’ve shared the steps, let me share with you the journey I’ve been on. 

After years of accepting insurance reimbursement for my clinical work, I have made the decision that it’s time to make an effort to negotiate my rate. When I started my practice, I was under the impression that one did not get to really negotiate a rate; you took it or left it, whatever ‘it’ was that the insurance company stated was their going reimbursement. In the years since, I’ve learned this isn’t necessarily so and that while usually futile, sometimes it’s worth the effort to push this rock known as big insurance companies, forward. And so I’ve been pushing forward. Weeks to find the correct contact person, weeks more when she told me one thing but then nothing happened. More time spent tracking down the significantly higher on the chain of command than I usually would go for, to get them looped into what was clearly an effort to stonewall me. This all felt like I was breaking ‘the rules’ of I-have-no-idea-what but that’s how it felt.

Let’s not kid ourselves ~ I would love to go back to the people-pleasing, “gee-wiz, so sorry, didn’t mean to make such a fuss” place of years gone by. But that’s no longer comfortable either and so, whether I had planned it or not, here I am, standing my ground and being focused on what is fair, right and equitable. This was all made possible by the steps I shared with you; I allowed myself the space to make a decision which fits me and did so in my own time. I have a support structure around me who is not only cheering me on, but who shares with me the belief that everyone benefits when one person does. I know my motives and am clear on how I will manage this should the ultimate answer is not what I’d like to hear. 

Being the Badass Boss isn’t about being mean, cruel or rude; it’s about stepping into your truth and staying the course when it gets tough. It really isn’t just about business but it’s about how you expect to be treated and how you treat others who have the good fortune to come into contact with you. The inevitable situations that pop up will be much more easily managed when you have the larger picture in mind. Put another way, when you remember that you really are the Boss of your life and your business, the rest will fall into place. I don’t know what will come next month; it will surely be interesting now that in this area my breaking the rules, coloring outside the lines, has started. I hope your month, and road to being the Badass Boss, works out well for you too. 

Want some help getting to your Badass Boss place? I work with a few people each year and if you’d like to join me you can find all you know to get started here: https://lisacurtislcsw.com/contact/