"Where there is a woman, there is magic."
Today is probably my favourite public holiday and I am in my winter. So my excitement is less external, but more internal, and so is the post. Today there will be many posts, articles, and webinars (incl. ours for Vietnam Wellbeing today at 6.30pm CET), esp. during #womenshistorymonth in March. So today I will share three personal reflections having lived as a woman on earth for more than a decade :-)
1. When women fight against each other, we only harm ourselves
As a young junior, I have, unfortunately, experienced weird situations when senior women behaved awkwardly towards junior women. Whenever I saw this behaviour, I swore that I would never be one of those senior women who would be jealous or fearful of other young women. On the other hand, it may be easy for me to say, so I wanted to explore deeper why this was even the case. I once read an article that there seems to be a competitive edge among women because of evolutionary reasons. Women "fight" for men`s attention so there may be an underlying evolutionary dynamic here.
Another reason I see is our current world focussing on youth, but more so for women. If you observe female actresses, such as Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie, most of them have taken an additional job as a producer or director given lack of really good roles for older women. Of course, there are always exceptions like Meryl Streep. But I guess no one can deny that the older men get, such as George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, the less favorable the conditions are for women. Moreover, we shall not forget Hollywood`s #MeToo movement, which harms women in their younger ages. So whether young or old, women face challenges men don`t.
In a corporate setting, it is also often observed that less women are in senior positions, and to get there, women seem to have to adjust to the male environment. Whether it is a skill of being able to deal with male egos or it is actually a loss of authentic womanhood, the current factors play against women. So when a young woman shows up, it may be that all the resentments are then targeted towards her, showing that we have to resolve our matters in ourselves, rather than projecting on and fighting our issues in another woman, which only harms women in general overall. We need to break the cycle to also create a better world for our daughters and teach our men otherwise. I sometimes even wonder whether men laugh at us seeing us battling against each other ... because this only takes away our energy that we need to use elsewhere - not against men, but for women.
2. Being in a minority makes a difference
I have suffered being part of a minority group my whole life, esp. being an immigrant AND a woman AND an old soul - thus, there are many factors that make me an outsider quickly. So when I work in such a corporate environment, also not aligned with my values or purpose, it is even harder to go through life and maintain your calm, your energy, your wellbeing. I once compared myself to a male colleague (I know comparison is only good in balance), wondering why he was fine to do a job that doesn`t fulfil him. I asked myself why I couldn`t be and do the same? This is when I realized several potential factors - that first - maybe we both tick differently in terms of fulfilling work, second - he is also married, so maybe he is more focussed on his role as a provider for his wife rather than his own fulfilment (although the latter has a positive effect), and third - maybe he is also not suffering from being in a minority all the time at work. This is when I realized that everything was alright with me, and it was actually often men who wouldn`t understand my decisions, because they also lack empathy in understanding my situation. (This is not to downsize factors that also make it difficult for men, as one male colleague also told me once that he was suffering from this traditional male leadership type, which doesn`t resonate with his.)
3. Having role models changes how we see the world
Being an outsider my whole life, I rarely had female role models or role models that I can really look up to in my direct environment. Also in our current society, most famous names are male, like Albert Einstein, Christoph Columbus, or Dalai Lama. Yes, I had inspirations, but I didn`t have role models where I thought "I want to be like her" or "I want to live her life" or "If she can do it, I can do it, too". This may be good because we can all create our unique lives without having a footprint before. Also even if there are few female role models, it doesn`t mean that all women resonate with her. This is something I believe men don´t understand when promoting more women to senior positions - it is not only about quantity, but also quality, and not only for men (who may question women´s qualifications), but also for women. So my few real role models are more famous figures like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or Arianna Huffington.
I even once reflected on who I can ask to be my mentor and when I realized I couldn`t find any cool women, I knew I had to leave my current environment. And yes, people may argue that I can be the role model, I can be the one who changes things. Yes, maybe, but I want to do this in a more favorable environment where I can make an impact and that doesn`t destroy my wellbeing - the senior management team doesn`t have to be 100% female, but at least sharing my values, which is the environment where women can thrive and naturally rise up and not battle their way up. I met many women who hid their womanhood, who had tired eyes, who were resentful, and I don`t want to achieve my success based on stress, battle, loss of myself. If I engage in this, I would only support this system, which is not empowering women at all. I once read a powerful quote by Rupi Kaur, saying:
"i`m not interested
in a feminism that thinks
simply placing women at the top
of oppressive systems is progress"
not your convenient figurehead - rupi kaur
And it can´t be that in the 21st century there are no organizations where women are not leading - if this is, unfortunately, the case, then I need and want to be an example of how the world can look like!
Love, from me to you,
What does a "woman" mean to you? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Tara Mohr - Playing Big
Reflection: How can I change the world with women?
Intention: I start with myself and appreciate the female part in me.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural founder of @vietnamwellbeing, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com