OK, we’ve got some truth-telling to do today.
I don’t usually battle much because what we resist (battle), persists. But this was a battle in my mindset and I was committed to coming out the other side in a place of freedom.
I titled this article “How to Be a Powerful Business Woman…” because that is what you are and I wanted you to recognize yourself.
Now, I ask you, as you read that last line, what was your internal dialogue? Did it sound like, “hell, yes, that IS me, a powerful business woman” or did was it more like, “huh, am I? Maybe…”
So lets start with my definition of Power because Power gets a bad rap. (I’ll get to the dirt on my own shame in a minute).
Power = being free to be your authentic self, speak your core truth, and accept what comes.
This is my definition of power I’ve been using for six years in business. Power isn’t something you wield or even something you earn, it’s something you choose. It comes from being willing to be fully you and accept what comes. When you get to the point of being willing to be this, everything is possible. You will never hold back and wait for approval, and you will step into the leadership needed to have your message heard in the world.
When we aren’t powerful, and when we hold back, it’s generally because of shame. Specifically past shame we are conditioned to feel, in other words, it isn’t even real right now. It’s a carry over from messages we’ve heard in the past about what a powerful business person looks like. Only we, as women, must redefine this.
I saw this video on Facebook last week, did you see it? Check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/48-subtly-sexist-things-women-hear-in-a-lifetime_566595d2e4b08e945feff668
It’s about messages we receive as females in our culture that men don’t hear. As you watch it, I want you to imagine what it would be like if boys heard the same messages. These and other subtle messages are hanging around in our subconscious ready to rear their heads at the slightest suggestion.
Case in point. I am an engineer. I went to school with 90% men. My first job came with mainly male coworkers. I worked in a diverse company so I did see many female role models in various roles. And I have no complaints about my experience. That said, I have plenty of subtle messages about HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN BUSINESS from my time in corporate. And the majority of them have to do with a masculine, linear, model of leadership. In my experience this looked like pushing to be better, dropping lots of buzzwords to sound smart, and acting like you know what you are talking about even when you don’t. And the women who were successful worked to do it in the masculine way. And I learned how to do this and I did it too.
Feminine Leadership and What You Know to Be True
I’ve moved through loads of my own fear and shame to be able to create a business and a world in which I get to be myself and bring the very best of what I know to be true to the table. Anyone you see who is doing this successfully has done that work too.
Yet, as one of my mentors used to say, “New Level, New Devil.”
A couple of weeks ago we moved into our new waterfront home. We rented a place that came furnished, and when our things arrived we began moving things around and unpacking. There has still been a part of me that is pinching myself and asking, ‘Wow, do I really get to live here? Am I really ENOUGH to have this type of life?”
Enter shame trigger #432
The owner of our home, who the rental agent described as “a big deal at X company downtown,” and an owner of several rental properties in the area, had previously lived in the home. The bookshelf in my office was lined with his books.
As I began to pack up his books and replace them with mine, I noticed I began to feel this sense of self-doubt take hold. The shelf was full of “the right books” that “should” be found on the shelves of successful men around the world. As I replaced book after book of the classics on money and leadership with copies of “Chakra Balancing” and “Sacred Contracts,” I was excited to feel at home, and also began to feel more and more inadequate. My mind began connecting his books with success and my books with, ‘you’re not a REAL success,’ and my subtle instinct to hide what’s true for me to keep it safe began to take over.
Have you ever been there?
To be clear, we did have some books in our collections that overlapped, but my collection is much more colorful. It also represents the new guard of leadership. Leadership where we deal with ourselves and our own authenticity first. Leadership where we connect with one another heart to heart and confront real issues rather than giving lip service to what others in leadership want to hear and avoiding the truth.
I have been growing a solid business for 6 years. I have already shown myself to be more successful than 95% of all men OR women who start businesses. Yet, at a time of vulnerability (this move is very uploving for me), I was so easily triggered into my own shame of not being who I was shown in early in my career I was supposed to be to succeed.
Thankfully it is my life’s work to be aware of alignment – mine and my clients – and I could feel my energy shifting and catch it before spiraling into shame-based decision-making. But I could have easily gone that direction. In fact I recently had a heart to heart with a very powerful friend who had spiraled into shame in a similar way.
The lesson in shame
When we let ourselves feel shame, we also shine a light on the flip side as well. I know in all of my heart that we are here to lead in a new way. You, and I, and this tribe. To lead in a way where our heart and head join forces to solve the real issues we’re experiencing on the planet at a root level. I know I am a voice for this new type of leadership. And I am more fired up than ever to help you find the courage to bring your voice to the table. Do not let yourself believe that what you have is not enough, that your approach won’t be accepted, or that you have to jump through more hoops or read more books to be ready. Answer the call, right where you are, and let your self be seen. Speak your core truth and accept what comes.
When you are bringing your own self-expression and creativity to your work, you automatically become vulnerable, because every single person has a background experience of being shamed for those same qualities that will ultimately make an impact. And vulnerability is power.
Do you have the courage to be powerful even when shame creeps in? I hope so, and it will be nothing if not an adventure.
Tell me more in the comments below!