I guess growing old makes you weary of empty promises, predictable advice and know-it-all certainty. In the industry of coaching, self-help and leadership training there’s loads of it. I seem to have outgrown my own advice!
And when I think of it, these are the three things that have most estranged me from my own power, influence and leadership for a long time: avoidance of pain, avoidance of failure and working like a busy bee. Ironically, these were three critical messages passed on to me by teachers, books, MBAs and women older than me. It’s a little like Instagram bliss, isn’t it?
Social networks have allowed us to materialize and share fantasies of our improved selves with the world. The more likes we get, the more we believe the illusions we create through filtered selfies, carefully chosen moments, gestures and obsessive manipulation of every object. Instagram has enabled our most aspirational desires: no pain, no failure and sooo many fun things to do!! #behappy #eathealthy #powermoms etcetera!
This self-delusion, enabled by crowds of internet strangers and bots, is quite constraining. I believe it holds back women more than anyone else. While the male sex is known to be physically stronger, the female gender has traditionally been emotionally superior in many ways. Women have a natural inclination and talent for everything that is not tangible: emotion, sensation, intuition, uncertainty or randomness.
Because a woman who is scared of experiencing pain is a “witch,” who hasn’t yet practiced flying on her broom. How can she read emotions on the faces of others or interpret the power dynamics of a boardroom if she hasn’t flown herself into the ground a few times? How can she trust her gut if she’s never followed that instinct to its worst, most emotionally challenging outcome?
The same goes for failure and not because it teaches us way more than success can ever do. Failure has a way of tattooing lessons on our skin and bones like nothing else. But more importantly, failure teaches you that the end is never the end and that losing everything is always the beginning of a brand new you. A new level of wisdom, depth, courage and thirst for real adventure.
And work, work, work! As an Insta-mom would put it, “Love launching a startup, curing cancer, sharpening my six-pack and, most of all, doing complex yoga postures with my kids hanging off me!! #LoveMyLife”
Well, I’ve got news for you, ladies. Work is the modern full-grown adult’s #pacifier. When we’re working, we are #OnAHigh. A delusional, addictive high we’ve been using since we can last remember. So busy solving problems, cranking those abs or bullying the kids into the right setup for an Insta-moment, that we fly like a lingerie model in wings over every real emotion in our bodies and psyches. Effortlessly, we leave our snotty kids’ complaints and protests far away in another dimension of non-Instagram reality.
So look, I’m not going to tell you how to become a powerful woman. I’ll let you choose the type of reality you want to live in and let you find your most irresistible female power in the last place anybody suggests you look for it. And then you tell me in the comments below!