2020 brought so many unexpected surprises (aka challenges) but in my experience these always result in gifts, and that has been the case for me.
One of the many gifts of 2020 was the growing focus for me on the subject of Female Power. This originally started as a very personal enquiry prompted originally by the appointment of a new board Chair for us at Co.OfWomen, the inimitable Theresa Gattung in 2016.
She and I could not have been more different in this area. For so much of my life I had felt bereft of power and it really wasn’t until I started working closely with TG and saw who she was being, and her commitment to helping women stand in their power, that I started to query just what personal power is. I started focusing on how we find our power and how female power is different from masculine power. Ultimately I wanted my own but I also knew I was on the cusp of something of huge importance to the movement I was leading at Co.OfWomen.
Think for a moment about the last time you read about this or talked about this subject or reflected about it for yourself… specifically ‘female power’.
As the founder of an organisation dedicated to championing female success I’ve come to understand a lot about the subject of what distinguishes a female success journey and what drives us as women. Prior to working alongside TG I realised that we were often considering female success from the perspective of the traits that handbrake our success. Not surprising in hindsight as this is almost the only conversation in the public domain – what holds us back.
The media loves a good victim story as demonstrated by the incessant rehashing of the same themes – the lack of women on boards, dismal pay equity stats and the impenetrable glass ceiling.
But no matter how hard we’ve tried, and we have, they’re not interested in what women are doing in spite of this. Women are not taking this lying down – we are pivoting and inventing and revolting to have the changes we want for ourselves, and for others.
I too had my own slow arrival at my power and my ability to harness it. My journey can niftily be segmented into two phases: the first and the significantly largest of my journey to date – the low confidence years; and the second, more recent, standing in my power years.
However, once I had finally found my female power mojo, I couldn’t clearly articulate what it was that I was drawing on or how other women could harness their own and draw on this any time they wanted – something that was hugely important to our mission. So I decided to take that conversation to the people and we launched Female Power Week. I realised I/we don’t need to answer this question for women. This is an all-in, ongoing conversation and will be varied and broad in its answers too.
For my part to date, I know that our power fundamentally resides in our capacity as women to create – literally create other humans – and this capacity means we are innately driven to seek their ultimate good AND to involve their wellbeing in decisions, directions and solutions. We are ‘others-centric’ and this is regardless of whether we have made or nurtured children of our own, which has not been a part of my journey.
As women, so many of the businesses we create are a response to this drive. As leaders it’s the people whom we are most motivated to nurture and develop. Our customers are genuinely loved by us and on it goes.
And yes this drive for the good of others can and does handbrake our success when ill-harnessed because it’s also true that the fullness of that nurturing expression is intended only for the role of mothering, in all its myriad forms. So when it comes to our success, discerning what to keep and what to reserve for whanau is a hugely important consideration. Spending ourselves on behalf of our loved ones: beautiful. Spending ourselves on behalf of our customers, teams etc: a huge risk to our success.
So I’m all in on this conversation about the incredible, distinctive power we have as women and I’m all in on participating in the development of a clear understanding so that more and more of us learn how to stand in our power.
And why should my life be dedicated to this? That’s the easiest of all actually. It’s because I know that when we can stand fully in our power, we can achieve the fullness of our success. And when women experience the fullness of their success, we dedicate ourselves and our resources to making this world a better place. Bring on the power, ladies, and I’ll be standing right alongside you.