This post may be a bit controversial but I wanted to share some thoughts and inspiration on women being true to their callings.
Having met and interviewed quite a few women in very senior or leadership positions in the past few weeks I have been really surprised by their answers when I asked them to comment about the hot topic at the moment as to why there are not more women in leadership and what could be done about it.
Quite a few said that it was a topic they themselves never really thought about much, others said that they felt that many of the women they knew did not actually want to be in leadership positions and could not, frankly, think of anything worse. Another said she felt that no matter what the sex it was a pure desire to do hard graft that made success and nothing less – that you either had the desire to succeed in the workplace or you didn’t and she just felt that more men had that desire. I don’t agree, desires are across the board, it’s who is taking the action on the basis of their desires that makes the difference.
In any case, this whole thing got me thinking – is the real question organisations should be asking is not why are there not more women in leadership but rather why do more women not WANT to be in leadership positions? And from there SHOULD they want to and if so why? Furthermore, what is so wrong with not having this professional ambition? My Mum didn’t have it – she raised 5 children and quite frankly my Dad’s practical existence all her life – what is wrong with that? Why is that not celebrated? Why is that not classed as ‘success’ – why is that not classed as a true, natural, organic successful ambitious existence? What is it about us that we can’t acknowledge the ambition of these women who see their true calling to not work professionally?
More deeply, on the other side of the equation what is stopping the women who do want succeed professionally from doing so? What stops them acting on desires? What stops women from stepping out and through and doing more? I know and have so many friends who have innovative start up ideas, app ideas, different solution to business problems – what stops these women putting these ideas into action? What is the road block? What is the emotional block? Is this the real question? Why are there not more women risking? Why is it alright for us to stay small, to let the ideas pass, to let the creativity sit to one side, to talk down achievements, to think we cannot do something when there is often a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Is self-doubt at the core of the gender issue, rather than education and if so how can this be addressed?
I don’t know the answer to this – but I do know that the more people I talk to about this topic and the more books I read around it, that putting more women in senior roles will solve jack sh*t and does nothing to address the core issues of motivation, self-doubt and the tone of the inner dialogue that I have shared with so many myself and that I hear from so many women I talk to.
For years, I pushed ideas away and was unaware that being happy, joyous and free in my work as well as my life was achievable. Ironically, it was mostly the men in my life who were truly ‘for me’ and not just ‘with me’ (my brothers, my Dad, an ex-boyfriend and most recently a business mentor) who have pushed me, challenged me and at times dragged me towards my truth. I think other people around us who love us have a huge role to play in our success. I am always driven on by my friends and family who would not settle for any crappy answer as to why I could not do this or that.
As a start to addressing self-doubt, I would encourage reading. Inner journey’s are just that and cannot be done from the outside, at least not quickly. They say it takes three generations to turn a societal bedrock of thought. That’s a long time before our little girls will not second guess themselves, their roles and their identities professionally and otherwise. So reading is a good start, reading books that awaken the truth. The truth that is that self-doubt and hiding and biting instead of shining and prospering are in fact your birthright. Books like “The Secret”, “The Promise”, ” How to Win Friends and Influence People” these writers all talk about this truth – the essence being jump and the net will appear.
As women, we have such power, such creativity and such a sense of fun about life. I know the women in my life have been through, handled and survived the most mind blowing adversities and have crafted a depth of sensitivity and wholeness on the other side. I know these women have such power and light inside of them capable of changing the world around them. Like them, I want to chose my path and not have society, history or any other source outside myself stop me from doing what it is that I feel in my heart whether that turns out to be having lots of babies, being a CEO or both. I want my daughters, nieces whatever to feel the same. I want to forget about leadership questions and focus on being true to who we are and on changing the world starting from the inside out. As Steve Martin says just be so good they can’t ignore you – I think that starts with the courage to just ignore the self-doubt.
Have a wonderful weekend.