Own Your Chops!

February 14, 2021

A (ambitious, talented, inspiring) woman reviewed with me the impending launch of her latest venture and her concerns about the uncertainty of owning and running her own business.

As she told me about her prior (many, impressive, worthy) achievements and (clear, valuable, obvious) industry expertise, it was almost as if she came to a conclusion (that was already entirely evident to me and likely to everyone else but her)…

“I guess I have the chops!” she laughed.

Yes, talented woman with the valuable experience, clear skill, impressive background and many years of experience…


No guessing necessary.

And then, of course, I stated thinking about… chops.

I mean, not just the chops we have and should own but actual… chops.

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These Are Chops

Pork chops. Lamb chops. Veal chop.

I don’t eat pork or lamb or veal.

Are there other types of chops?

Chopped salad, sure. Meat chops? I’ll pass.

(I get easily distracted like this…)

Back to the origin of the phrase. What does it mean to “have the chops,” anyway?

Where did it come from?

Let’s go, Google!

A quick search revealed the most common derivative is “Stop busting my chops” which is an idiom for don’t nag or criticize me. That phrase may have origins in men’s facial fashion – the long side burns known as “mutton chops” and the thought that the nagger or criticizer was sending a blow in the direction of the jawline.

A “chop” then, outside of the kind at your local butcher, is the jaw or side of one’s face.

Like “licking one’s chops” when you’re hungry for that veal chop dinner. (I‘m not, because, you know, that whole not eating veal thing).

That’s not all that we do with our chops. Musicians, such as jazz trumpeters, are considered to have strong jaws that would impact the quality of the music. So, you could say that if you are good at trumpet, you must “have the chops for it.

Or not.

The expression would go on to stand in for any type of competency.

“Showing one’s chops.”

“Prove your chops.”

“That gal has chops!”

Or, how we tend to downgrade ourselves: “I’m not sure I have the chops for that.”

Or the occasional realization when you realize, hey, “I guess I have the chops!”

I may not know how to cook a veal chop.

But I do know this…


It’s your jawline. Set it firmly in your conviction that you’ve got what it takes.

Don’t wait for someone else to recognize your value and point it out to you.

Owning your story is the key to reaching the optimal outcome.

Review your years of experience, your many skills, your talents, your interests.

Add a pinch of perseverance, of patience, of passion.

You might even discover a superpower or two along the way.

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Cook Up Your Own Recipe For Success

Give it a stir and serve it up.

You’ve got chops.

Own them. That’s your recipe for success.

Home img 03 own your chops! Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, a 10x Emmy-winning producer and the founder of career and communications strategy firm The Storytelling Strategist and the Commander-in-She blog. She speaks at conferences and works with corporations to build teams, develop future leaders and help level the playing field for high-achieving women to ascend the leadership ladder. Follow her on LinkedIn and Facebook

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