I was looking through my copy of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will,  by Sheryl Sandberg for some stats on women in tech that I will be presenting at a meeting and came across this paragraph:

In a 2011 McKinsey report, it was stated that men get promoted based on potential
while women get promoted based on past accomplishments.

Let me just say it is good I meditated this morning because this kinda got my blood boiling.

Not just the double-standard but because I felt the truth in this for myself.

So, I have created an exercise to empower you to go for things more often even when you do not feel 100% ready.  (You can download a copy for yourself here.)

From Potential to Accomplished Tool

Step 1: Take 5 minutes and list some of your past accomplishments.


  • Graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in business
  • Wrote computer programs from scratch
  • Play Bridge
  • Have read way over 1000 books
  • Bought a home
  • Have been married over 25 years to a great guy.
  • Raised two well-adjusted kids
  • Opened my own business
  • Hired an Assistant
  • Got certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise
  • Was Citizen of the Year
  • Ran the largest food drive in my city and helped earn a $10,000 award for them
  • Won a writing contest in college about Computer Crime
  • Have written a regular blog since 2014
  • Got certified as a coach

Step 2: Choose 1 of your riskier past accomplishments.


  • Started my own Information Technology Recruiting Firm

Step 3: Take 5 more minutes and write down all the past accomplishments that gave you the confidence to do this risky thing.


  • Had pervious recruiting experience
  • Had a degree in business so exposure to marketing, finance and HR
  • Had financial and emotional support from family
  • I was excited about opening my own firm and hiring people

Step 4: Take 5 more minutes and write down all things you learned from this riskier decision that you did not already know before you did it.


  • How to manage and lead people
  • Accounting systems, phone systems, email, CRM…
  • Day-to-day of running an office
  • Working with lawyers, accountants, external vendors
  • How to hire the best people for my company
  • So much more!

Did I have missteps along the way? Of course!

I had bad hires, made bad financial purchases, micro-managed, wasted time on non-productive things and I learned a ton.

I Didn’t Know What I Didn’t Know

The fact that I did not know what I did not know really helped. I had the potential to learn based on my past accomplishments and I ALSO had the willingness to jump in and go for it.

So, what can you do to turn your potential and the potential of others into successful past accomplishments? 

Create a space for potential energy.

Potential energy is fluid. It requires a space for back and forth, up and down, mistakes and successes, pivoting and standing still.

Hold that space. Be like the banks of the river for yourself or your team. Let the potential flow. Let it expand and contract. But give it structure in the form of mentoring, training, and pats on the back.

What we learn and how we grow started first as our potential.

I excel at seeing potential and creating and holding space.  If you are ready to turn your career potential into successful past accomplishments, then let’s talk.

630/260-7821 or LSwanson@LasoCareers.com