We Can Do This, Ladies
Posted May 28th, 2008
I’m hearing it in so many different arenas – economic, political, spiritual, organizational. It gives me the impression of being in the bottom of a canyon, the way the sound reverberates off all the walls so it’s impossible to locate the exact source of origin. It’s all around us. It is us. I’m left with that out-of-body sensation that as I am witnessing this sound, I am also part of it; making it happen, that deep, resonant vibration reminding me I am connected to something greater than myself. Despite what I hear in the news or read in the paper, I intuitively sense it is a great time to be a woman in this world.
Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and author, refers to this reverberation as “a wisdom whose time has come” and harkens us back to the two previous times American women have changed our world – the suffragette movement and the women’s movement. Malcolm Gladwell, author and social scientist, describes this notion as a “tipping point” and reminds us that major transformation can occur through seemingly mundane and everyday acts. Dee Dee Meyers, author and former press secretary for Clinton, calls women to step up and “rule the world”, not because women are the same as men, but “precisely because [we] are different.”
We are different. Let’s celebrate that and start bringing those differences to bear in the world around us. Let’s snap the old masculine measuring sticks for power, performance, and prestige over our collective knees and focus on what we know deep down inside of us. Let’s not waste time defining ourselves in relation to men or the masculine, but rather honor and obey (yes, I said O-B-E-Y!) our instincts as women and honor the feminine wisdom within all of us.
Doesn’t the time feel ripe? In her book, Urgent Message From Mother Earth: Gather the Women, Save the World, Jean Shinoda Bolen does not mince her words in calling us to action. She points out that even the men in today’s world are recognizing the need for women to take the lead and invites us to feel the “stirring below the surface of our collective consciousness” that is gathering momentum.
So are you ready? Seriously. Are you? This is not a time for shrinking violets or patent social graces of deference, modesty, or coyness. This is about standing up and being seen by all – even in the face of your own uncertainty, messiness, or (yikes!) failure. Marianne Williamson calls to me daily (some days louder than others…) from my office wall where I’ve posted her famous quote: “Your playing small does not serve the world”. Lest I forget.
So let’s get over ourselves. There I said it. It’s not about being arrogant, egotistical, self-centered or selfish. It’s also not about being delusional, a feminist or even remotely ready. It’s about time. It’s about stepping up, taking a stand, choosing to stay in the conversation(s) that matter to us and using the powerful voices we were given to unleash the collective wisdom that is bubbling up within us.
If you’re anything like me, you worry. I’ll admit it: I’m a chronic worrier. I worry when other people don’t worry – how sad is that? So I get that stepping up and taking a stand can be a thoroughly lonely if not downright terrifying act. I catch myself quelling my own instincts much of the time because I am second guessing myself and wondering if I know enough or am astute enough to warrant opening my mouth. So some days, sadly, I don’t. I wait and I watch. My moment comes and goes as I diligently try to learn more so that next time I am ready! Next time I am more prepared. Next time I have the courage to step up and take my stand. And lead.
So what is your “enough” quotient? Get clear on it. Then get over it because that day will never arrive. If, like me, you are waiting to “know enough” about any particular topic or issue, you are most likely a life-long learner and as long as the earth continues to turn on its axis, you will never deem yourself to “know enough” because there will always – ALWAYS – be more to learn out there. So get over it.
What about your “next time?” When will that be? Do you see how passive that invites us to be? Waiting for the “perfect” entry point, the “right” time to pounce or the “best” place to make your move as a leader?
If I sound all “tough love” on us as women leaders, it’s because I, too, am in this space of waiting, being poised, and never feeling quite prepared for or (dare I say) competent to step up and be the leader I know myself to be. And anybody who knows me will tell you that I am entirely impatient, so you can imagine how this situation has my kettle at a full boil and shrilling loudly over here.
So are you with me? We’ve got some paradigms to shatter for ourselves and a bunch of new stories to write. Among other things, we will be called to reconcile (fancy word for “get over it, already!”) our relationships to power, money, and anger. We’ll have to break that nasty perfectionist habit and ramp up on our risk-taking tolerance. Suze Orman, as she explored the notion of women and money in her most recent book shared her confoundedness and then concluded, “we can do this, ladies.”. In that spirit, I truly believe – and history will back me up on this –we can do this. We can lead the world to a better place. We can answer the call.
Start today. Don’t wait. Don’t worry. Don’t look back. Just open your mouth and trust that wisdom will come out. It’s bigger than any one of us, but it begins will every one of us. It doesn’t have to be some earth-shattering notion or a profound idea – the best ones usually aren’t. Keep it simple, but do it today. However you choose to step up as a leader – in the big or the small everyday ways – do it publicly, proudly, and with conviction. Spare us the apologies – that’s really about your need, anyway, right? Let your actions serve as inspiration to the women – and the world – around you. My talented artist friend, Jess Esch has inspired me along this path with the creation of her t-shirt emblazoned with the simple message “This Is How I Change The World.”. Whatever I am doing as I wear that t-shirt – consciously or unconsciously– I am reminded that I am in the process of changing the world. It can be that simple. And profound.
And on those days – and we all will have them – when we feel small and whiny, we would do well to remember the words of some great leaders who are are with us in spirit cheering us on: Ghandi saying, “be the change you want to be in the world”; Martin Luther King, Jr. saying, “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step in faith”; Soren Kirkegaard imploring us, “leap and the cliff will appear.”
It’s our turn to leap. Are you with me?