THE COURAGE TO RISE IN OUR CALL TO LEAD
Written by Marsh Engle
Even today, especially today, much is changing in the culture of our success. From how we see things to how we build business, we are at the center of creating a significant shift in our lives, our communities, and the world.
We are claiming a balanced, mindful approach to leadership, bringing to the fore elevated actions, deepened connections, and higher contribution – embodying both the internal and external aspects of our creativity.
But, this approach to leadership and success was not always easily accepted.
Remembering back to 1999 and early in the development of a new concept in conferences called Amazing Woman’s Day, several of my closest advisers offered the opinion: “Your program looks and sounds innovative and significant, but no one in business or otherwise is going to take your work seriously if you use the language Feminine Success or Feminine Leadership in the description of your conference.”
To me the use of the word feminine placed next to the word success – or, blending of the word feminine with the word leadership – felt natural and relevant – and, even more, necessary. But, after further exploration and in the context of success in leadership, I found that it was the word feminine that had a tendency to strike many as being too soft, emotional and weak.
As it turns out, I stood strong in my decision to move forward with the conference including the use of feminine success and feminine leadership to describe it. In fact, the principles of feminine success became the primary distinctions of the Amazing Woman’s Day Conference series, bringing forth feminine leadership and placing it front and center throughout the conference. And I did it with the full knowing I’d face some resistance. And, that was most definitely the case. But I continued to stay true to the vision. The success of the conference carried on for ten consecutive years visiting 3 countries and over 50 U.S. cities, impacting thousands upon thousands of both men and women’s lives. Ever since I’ve made it my intention to be loyal to the mission of introducing a balanced, mindful approach to career development and business leadership – always looking to find as much compelling evidence as possible to prove the essential bridge between creativity and higher success … introducing practices that integrates the power of both the mind and the heart.
The answer is to bring an impeccable balance into our creativity,
one that integrates the power of both the mind and the heart.
In all honesty, as I look back, I’m reminded there was a time that I, too, questioned the power of this expanded approach to success, often conforming to the judgment that my feminine nature was too soft, too emotional, and too weak. My early days as a budding media executive took place when the outlook for women in America was just beginning to change. I was one of the few women at the big table, a business environment primarily populated by men who were more heavily focused on the bottom line than creativity and teamwork. Anything resembling intuition or inspiration, or passion found very little place in business.
So, what did I do? I conformed.
In those days’ women role-models or mentors in media where few. And, those who were available tended to readily conform to the rules of the time. I went along with the crowd. I dressed the part with a closet filled with pinstriped business suits, shoulder pads, and scarf that I often tied at the neck. I pulled my hair back. To be taken seriously as a woman business leader, I found it necessary to filter my naturally enthusiastic personality into a stern appearance and behavior.
“Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman.”
Stepping away from media to open my own marketing agency became my first step in realizing there’s another way of doing it … of building business, of creating success, of leading. From the moment the doors of my new business swung open it became less about the expected ways of achieving and more about innovating in ways that had never been done. Here I found there was plenty of space to bring my inner strengths to the table and be more of my true self. In fact, I found that my inner strengths became my biggest and most valued distinction – trademarks of my success and of my leadership – creativity, innovation, intuitive decision-making, and so much more. I excelled. And, so did my business.
I can easily see now the creation of Amazing Woman’s Day was my way to give back what I wished I had when I was struggling to rise in my own expression of feminine success and feminine leadership: designing an environment to excel creatively. I wasn’t only looking for a means to break through a ceiling ... I was looking for ways to create a cultural shift in the value of our feminine nature ... to create a movement where women link arms to rise in true value and esteem … to bring our personal power into balance.
Today we need not look far to recognize the heightening value of those
qualities most widely regarded as feminine – skills such as empathy, intuition and collaboration – have too long gone unrecognized.
However, in big part motivated by flexibility, and inclusiveness,
a form of balanced, mindful success is being embraced by more and more individuals who are breaking away from old structures.
Without question, a genuine rumbling is underway; its theme is the recognition of our balanced capacities to create real and lasting change.
Outdated attitudes are dropping away.
Competitiveness and unfairness are being challenged.
And, like any revolution, the results can give way to an ever-evolving new direction, a cultural shift, an expansion in the consciousness of leadership.
When we look around, it can quickly be recognized that the cultural shift that is taking place goes well beyond an individual issue. In fact, it’s the call of this shift that is bringing us to our feet and moving us into action.
It’s the innate wisdom of this shift that’s catalyzing a motivation of both men and women to step-up to share their once suppressed voices and truths.
It is here that we ignite the courage to rise in the undeniable power of our call to lead.
TOGETHER WE LEAD!