"We Become What We Behold"
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
On Thursday we held our first ‘Gorgeous Women Gathering’. I invited a special group of women, each connecting to their power and voice and who are making a difference: what I call ‘Queen energy’.
These were the 5 Key Attributes of the women sitting at the table:
1. We all have a proven track record of pushing through the glass ceiling in a very male business world.
2. We are all real women and have transitioned from a ‘Princess infantile energy’ to a ‘Queen Energy’: we are sexy, confident and powerful women and we all have rich, full lives beyond work.
3. We are all spiritual in our own way, on a quest for something of value and purpose beyond our immediate material and familial concerns.
4. We do not have a victim mindset, blaming the world for not being fair. We are doing the necessary internal work to become empowered, strong and full of warmth and love.
5. We all like and support other women. We do not see women as rivals to be belittled. Belittling other women is a manifestation of not loving and respecting ourselves. We have learned to have deep self-love and self-respect.
It was a wonderful evening, full of positive energy, deep discussions and great practical and mutual support. Women at our best!
Gathering women together isn’t new for me. As a teenager I would hold female only dinners - my parents generously entrusting me not to burn down the house! - and our boyfriends would not be invited. In the Cheshire countryside where I lived, this was seen as very radical and initially provoked confusion and even anger. It’s astonishing to see how different the world has become and, in this aspect, what great progress has been made.
And then ten years ago, I gave a series of Women and Leadership workshops. I loved doing these and much came from them. However, after five years, I began to realise I was being marginalised. Male professors and trainers were figuratively patting me on the head and congratulating me for my reputation in female leadership development. I had been training men for years, but these professors were actively encouraging me to focus on women. By staying in that sphere, I wasn’t a challenge or stepping on any egos.
So, I consciously stopped the women’s workshops (even though diversity training was becoming mainstream and in demand) and I focussed on building my reputation in top leadership development: what has now evolved into the Cascãd Champion Mindset training.
‘We become what we behold’: it wasn’t an easy path as I had few coordinates to guide me. Growing up I didn’t have many positive female role models to show me how to stretch and go beyond what was traditionally expected of a woman. Education yes, professional aspiration no, so I have had to challenge many of my internal injunctions about what a woman ‘should’ be and do outside the home. It is no coincidence my professional worlds have been in teaching, psychotherapy and coaching: all traditionally female professions. My decision to push through the glass ceiling into top leadership development catapulted me into a world where my peers are primarily men. This is partly because men are much better at leaning in and rising to the top in any profession…women can learn a lot here from the good men!... and partly because senior leaders are predominantly men and like unconsciously wants like, a key issue in recruitment.
I recently attended a ‘Meet Professional Women Day’ introducing potentially under-achieving adolescent girls to successful women from a variety of backgrounds and professional fields with the aim of raising their aspirations, achievement and self-esteem. I didn’t know what to expect other than I didn’t need to prepare anything, it would last an hour and I would be asked lots of questions!
I walked into a room buzzing with 25 girls sitting in small groups. The organiser, a remarkable woman, introduced me to the other professional women ‘interviewees’ and told us that each group would have 10 minutes with each of us before we moved onto the next group. It was a fast, fun and high-energy hour. These girls were both curious and tough and questions were fired at me, giving me no time to edit my responses. I learned a lot about myself!
A frequent question was: “What were your dreams at 14?” I replied I didn’t know. My two brothers actively did but I didn’t. I knew I wanted to make a change, a difference…I wasn’t even sure then if that was just to my life or for others as well…but I didn’t have a specific vision or goal to aim for. The only aim was to become educated. In fact, once I had graduated, my mother then told me it was time to think of marriage. That was to be my next goal. Note how passive my goals were: no active ‘doing’.
Afterwards the five ‘interviewees’, inspired and exhilarated by the session, sat and shared our stories. It became evident that we, like many other ground-breaking women, are all living lives very different to our mothers. We are now trying to find a balance between our professional and personal lives, not an ‘either/or’ choice as previous generations have had to make but a way that allows for both. And this drive for integration pushes us into new and unexpected territory. It forces us to grow up, to stop being the ‘good girl’ and to start connecting to our own empowered ‘voice’. Such women used to be rare. Now it is increasingly becoming the norm.
And yes, maybe we didn’t have role models to aspire to. Maybe what we had to do is consciously NOT become what we beheld. This is true for everyone: if we live an unconscious life, we automatically become the person we didn’t want to become, have the life we didn’t want to have and we become very grumpy and mean old men and women, bewailing that life hasn’t been fair.
To consciously become an empowered, enlightened human being takes great courage: the courage to choose a different path, a different way of being. A path that cannot always be seen and is not always easy but one that ultimately brings great rewards, as manifested in the 5 Key Attributes outlined in the beginning of this Post.
And finally the world is evolving: there are so many good and enlightened men who know that sharing responsibility and power with women can only enhance and serve us all and that there is much to learn from each other: see my Post: Gender Bilingualism: what we want to learn from each other.
The call and invitation for all of us...men and women...is to push through our internal and external barriers, to step into our power and voice and to become the role models!