A Future Females Evening – Breaking Through Fears and Self-Limiting Beliefs

On Thursday evening, I (Eline, Brand Manager at Näpp) visited a Future Females event in Utrecht. Working at Näpp, a student-run start-up, we love to go these events to learn new useful skills and information to better serve you: our customers, meet new and inspiring people and businesses, and expose our company to the local entrepreneurial environment. Together with the founder Loviisa, I visited the previous Future Females event as well, check out this blog post to find out what that one was all about! In this blogpost, I’ll reflects on what this evening was all about, and the most valuable take-away’s in relation to Näpp. We think it is important for us to share our experiences at events like this, as it relates to us personally, our young company, our community, and the future of women in business. If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of what like running a start-up as students entering the world of entrepreneurship and business, tune into our Näpp Life Story Highlights on Instagram!

future females utrecht

What is Future Females?

Future Females is a Cape Town-based movement to inspire more female entrepreneurs and help them achieve success. Through Future Females, women can connect digitally, physically, and emotionally to build their businesses, connect, inspire, and collaborate. Future Females itself was founded by Lauren Dallas and Cerina Bezuidenhout in 2017 in Cape Town. They found a distinct lack of females representation in all areas of business, especially entrepreneurship. Since 2017, Future Females has been breaking down the barriers to access the resources women need to be successful entrepreneurs & intrapreneurs.

The members of Future Females are ambitious women who are passionate about business, innovation and creating things . That doesn’t mean this community is exclusive to women only. Future Females believes strongly that in order to drive change through technology and entrepreneurship, only 50% of the world’s population focus wil not suffice. Both men and women are welcome in the Future Females community. This is how we achieve a more sustainable, inclusive and innovative world. You can read all about Future Females on their website, and hopefully attend one of their events near you!

The Future Females Event – Breaking Through Fears and Self-Limiting Beliefs

The First Part of the Evening

19:30:  Introduction to Future Females

After meeting everyone present at the event, a large and diverse of mostly women, we all took a seat. We were welcomed and briefly introduced by tonight’s Future Females hosts to Future Females and tonight’s speakers.

19:50: First talk by Sanne Meijer – You have the power to change your story

Sanne Meijer studied gender studies at Utrecht University, which means she studied how people are told to behave according to their gender, and she is specialized in stories. She worked within different women’s rights organizations as a lobbyist – meaning she had an influence in the policies of certain ministeries. She started personal development four years ago, and in her talk she combined her knowledge in this area with female empowerment.

Her talk was all about self-limiting beliefs – what are they, and how do they affect you and your potential? What I found most interesting was that self-limiting beliefs are stories that one tells oneself to justify not doing something, which hides a specific fear. The most common fear is not spiders, or heights, not even public embarrassment. It is inadequacy – am I not good enough? What happens if I’m not good enough? Sanne pointed out that our brain knows exactly what scares us, and will create stories that play into our fears. Stories are a way for us to make meaning out of things that happen in our lives. We believe these stories because we constantly find ways to confirm they are true. So if you believe you’re not good enough, everything that happens – no matter what it is – your brain will interpret that as a confirmation that you are in fact not good enough. But these stories are not based on facts, they’re full of bias and assumptions, and basically they’re conspiracy theories. This is the biggest influential factor when it comes to self-limiting beliefs. The first step to overcome them is to realize your fears are grounded in the dominant story that your brain has created, that doesn’t necessarily reflect reality.

Sanne explained this all in a light and engaging way, taking us back on her own journey. She used to believe that she was a quitter, because she was turned away from chasing her dream of becoming a singer and let go of her dream. Through her journey of personal development she was able to realize that she is not a quitter, and she has gained the confidence to become a singer. She is now preparing for a big upcoming concert!

What I took away from her talk is that – as cheesy as it sounds – we are all capable of achieving our dreams if we set aside our self-limiting beliefs. In my opinion, her most useful tip to do this included staying true to your core values. Core values are all about your authenticity and staying true to what you believe in.

future females event

Connection to Näpp

This brought something to mind for me. At Näpp, we thought long and hard about our core values, and our mission. Our main core values include

…connecting international families with international babysitters

…build a community of multicultural families with the same goal

…support happy, confident children

these broad values support our more specific mission of connect international families with babysitters who share the same cultural background and
native language. This way we help children growing up abroad stay in touch with their cultural identity and mother-tongue. Our biggest goal is to provide a safe, positive, and reassuring environment for families living abroad, knowing that their kids are in the hands of someone who understands them at a cultural and lingual level.

Being a small company in a turbulent start-up full of opportunities but also big competitors and scary leaps we sometimes have to take – these core values keep us grounded. Every single decision we make as a company is in accordance with our core values, no matter how scary it is. It is easy to start believing that the work we do is not valued, not good enough, or that we should just give up. But through this talk I realized that those thoughts are self-limiting fears that are not based on reality, and absolutely don’t fit in our core values as a company. This was eye-opening, and will be a useful way to guide us through our upcoming challenges as a young start-up.

The Second Part of the Evening

20:20: Karlijn Kwint – How To Just Do It

Karlijn is the owner of Vogelvrij Overnemen, and started this talk by explaining how afraid is of speaking English in front of a crowd, because it is not her mother tongue and she is afraid to make mistakes and make a fool out of herself. But, however uncomfortable she was with speaking English in front of us, she was there – just doing it. Her talk was about sharing with us how to achieve this – how to just do it.

Karlijn noticed that when she approaches someone about a fear she has, they usually have one of two responses. The first being: “You don’t need to do it, you’re good enough already. Why go through the hassle?” Or the second: “If you really want to do it, then just do it.”. Both reactions are not helpful when trying to overcome a fear.

She asked us to think about one of our own self-limiting beliefs or fears, and gave us the following question: are my dreams more important to me, or my fears? Are those fears even realistic? What’s the worst thing that can happen if the fear does come true? She questioned her own fear: “would the crowd really laugh at me if I made a mistake in English? Probably not.” One of my favourite quotes of hers about this point was: “I’d rather have a life of oh-well’s than a life of what if’s”.

After asking yourself all of these questions and thinking about the quote, you still want to be the person that faces their fears – like public speaking, going bungee jumping, starting a company – you need to ask yourself why that is for yourself and for others. The answer to the first question will be more personal, like: “I want to prove to myself that I can do this.”. The answer to the second one will reveal a bigger meaning to you about yourself and your motivations, for example: “I want to help other people.”

Then, decide to go for it, step by step. It’s not a one step process, but a long journey. One does not simply “just do it”, one does it – but over time.

future females

Connection to Näpp

This talk was very introspective, but it made me think of the goal we’re trying to achieve with and at Näpp. To create a community of international parents, kids, and students, all with the common goal of fostering culture, language, and identity – is a big goal. We can’t simply “just do it”, it takes a lot of time. But that is the beauty of it I think. Time and effort pays off, and I really do hope that in a few years time, this Näpp community that we’re building here right now will have grown into a large and connected network of individuals who all care about culture, language, and raising happy and confident kids. We’re so thankful for all of you who have joined us on our journey!