As I look out over the landscape of social media, I’m amazed at the number of opportunities for women. Women in business – large, medium, small or micro. Women’s growth and development – personal, professional and spiritual. Women’s health and well-being. Women this – Women that. One would think we’ve suddenly been discovered and everyone wants on our bandwagon.
Well, I wonder. Have we really been discovered? I mean discovered for reasons other than women hold 80%+ purchasing decisions in most households. I mean for reasons other than we can line the pocketbook of others – scrupulous or otherwise.
I mean, have we truly been discovered for who we are? Or is it simply what we can do for someone else whose only desire is to exploit the fact that the female is on the scene!
When we launched Affiliated Women International (AWI) in 2007-08; the female gender was just coming into view over the horizon. At the time, I had a fellow tell me that the “energy of the universe is now feminine“. I wasn’t sure what that meant – nor am I sure of it today. What I do know is that suddenly everything changed and the female population; especially those of us in business, were being courted. Websites designed just for women sprang up everywhere. Folks who hawk wares and otherwise, turned their attention to women in droves. We were sought after from every corner of the marketplace. And our purses were plucked dry. That is when we let them be.
One would think such a phenomenon would delight my heart. And in some ways it does. However, I’m suspicious by nature and wonder if it’s because those who have controlled the marketplace for eons just find us easy prey and don’t truly admire, respect and otherwise hold us in genuine esteem!
Such suspicion may be a bit heavy-handed; but not without some base in reality. And many women nod approvingly when I mention it in conversation. They too sense that the sudden spotlight on women may not be a long term change in attitudes, but simply an opportunity to take advantage of what we’ve always been so good at – managing households, families and the family purse strings. In other words, the talent and native abilities we possess can be exploited for the good of others – not a necessarily mutually beneficial good.
Last week, in the “Women and Micro-Business” series, I wrote about the lack of self-esteem, confidence and genuine sense of competency many women who own or partner in a micro-business feel underneath a facade of “I’ve got this“. So I asked a few women I know if they sense that the sudden interest in us as females, is genuine. Most of them haltingly answered – “well yes, but. . . “
So I probed a bit deeper. I wondered what followed the “but“.
Nearly every woman with whom I spoke expressed the feeling that she has been ‘courted’ for no other reason than women are now the “in” thing. And “thing” is how many of them feel! That they are less respected for who they are than what they can do for others.
And that is pain! The pain of still not being accepted as an equal in the business world. Pain that impacts our sense of self-worth and confidence. Pain that holds us back from boldly marching forward with firm assurance that we can – and will – accomplish what we set out to do. Pain that easily rises to the surface when any other person – male or female, looks askance at what we do.
Especially if what we do is a micro-business with annual gross income less than 6 figures or more. No matter that we are heart-satisfied with what we do. No matter that the annual gross income is just what we desire and celebrate when it happens. No matter that our definition of success fits the lifestyle we desire because we never miss a child’s soccer game or holiday concert.
So how do we overcome the pain brought on by suddenly being thrust into the limelight because the “energy of the universe is now feminine“?
1. Admit our pain – denying any feeling, positive or negative, never resolves anything. In fact, it makes the situation worse. Admit to ourselves it hurts to realize that folks may court us for nefarious reasons. Admit that not everyone in the world is honest, trustworthy, loyal or otherwise exemplary in motives or deeds.
And while we’re at it; it’s good to admit we are less confident and assured than we’d like to be. Accept that we’re not where we’d want to be; but determine to work our way in that direction.
2. Don’t wallow in it – In other words, admit it; but don’t take up residency in the pit of pain, lined with walls of self-doubt.
3. Build a Tribe – Seth Godin, prolific author and purveyor of common sense wisdom, wrote an awesome book entitled “Tribes”. His wisdom? Seek like-minded folks with whom we resonate and hang out with them. I agree! Seek them (they’re out there, probably closer than you think) – find them (they may be looking for you as much or more than you are them) – and hang with them. Ask them to be honest with you; to swift kick you in the hind quarters when needed, and pick you up by the bootstraps when that’s needed as well.
4. Celebrate the Itty-Bitty – Don’t wait until a big day comes – celebrate each teeny-weeny step that moves you forward. Grab a few “tribe members” and celebrate. Lift your glasses, cheer each other and let the rush of celebratory energy drop deep into your soul. Let it reside there. It will become the motivator that will keep you plugging forward each day with growing self-confidence and a sense of your own competency!
5. Success is a series of the Itty-Bitty – Seems self-evident, right? Yes, but we forget it. When the marketplace press sucks the life from us; we forget that no one reaches success without small seemingly unimportant steps – one after another! So consider the completion of each “itty-bitty” as another rung on the ladder you call “my success“!
Finally, let the “discovery” that appears to be today’s marketplace game; be the discovery of your awesome skills, abilities, talents and amazing know-how for doing and succeeding at what you want to do.
More importantly, let it be the discovery that “who” you are is more than enough and let that knowledge (and wisdom) empower you for the bright future ahead. Then no one – but no one – can take that away from you! By word, deed or both!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]