This is the fifth and final post in a series based on Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey. Over the last four posts, we’ve explored how many women, especially in tech environments, sacrifice a critical aspect of themselves in order to “fit in”. To be accepted, women learn to exploit their own masculine tendencies and minimize their more feminine traits. They learn to blend in by de-emphasizing gender. At some point in their careers, however, they often experience an awakening that reveals the truth of just what they’ve created. This awakening may come as a result of a life-change, like childbirth, adoption or even death of a loved one. For other heroines, their awakening follows a realization that they are tired of the games, of fighting to be heard, of being labeled a bitch, or of being passed over simply because they are different. Regardless, you are now awake, seeing new things that have always been right in front of you.
So what’s a heroine to do?
I suggest that it’s time to embrace who you are — to be, finally, fully authentic. To be the heroine who possesses both masculine and feminine qualities. To show others that being in full personal balance is not only good, but powerful. In other words, to restore balance to the universe!
We began this series by talking about archetypes — models that exemplify the human experience. The archetypes of the hero and heroine speak to us of personal potential, challenge, reward and growth. The hero and heroine both begin their journeys by learning from others: a Jedi, wizard or mentor. Yet over time, we learn to trust our own selves rather than relying on others’ wisdom. With challenge and success, we gradually discover our own power and capabilities. Somewhere along the journey, we confront a dragon or blockage (usually our selves) that challenges our world-view. Both the hero and heroine then descend into a cave of introspection. In the dark times, we discover what’s really important to us, who we really are.
We are never really alone on our path. Luke had Leia and Han, and for a time, Obi-wan. Katniss Everdeen had her sister, Prim, Haymitch and Peeta.Who accompanies you on your journey?
It’s important to know who these folks are because not only do they make the experience worthwhile, they become our inspiration. Luke could have hung out with Yoda, but he knew his friends needed him. At different points in her story, Katniss could have done the same. But the hero and heroine make deliberate choices to act because of their love for these people.
When the hero and heroine face their ultimate fears, when they take a stand and say “this is who I am” then they begin the last stage of their journeys. Simply by being who we are we begin to restore balance to the Universe.
What does it look like when balance is restored to the Universe? It looks like a work environment that actively recruits women and men equally. Appropriate and inappropriate behaviors are discussed openly, even during on-boarding. Later, additional work assignments like interviewing potentials, training new hires and mentoring others are shared fairly by men and women. Both masculine and feminine behaviors are valued and measured by the organization. Women are mentored and sponsored as often as their male counterparts. And they are nurtured and developed until they reach positions of decision-making authority. Essentially, a balanced enterprise recognizes, invests in and develops each person to their fullest capability. Each employee feels welcomed and included.
What does it look like for a heroine to restore balance to her Universe? For a woman working in tech, it means:
- Getting clear on how you want your work-day, hell, how you want your career to go. Ask yourself, “At the end of each day and at the end of my career, of what do I want to be most proud?”
- Being real and authentic. This may mean tapping into those feminine qualities like patience and empathy even when others expect you to be the opposite.
- Coaching and mentoring. Become your own Jedi or wizard. Teach others what you’ve learned along the way about the value of both masculine and feminine qualities. Show them these stats.
- Using your voice. Speak up at work. Speak your truth using both empathy and facts. Be professional in your language and more people will be open to hearing your message.
- Fighting your battles and allowing others to fight their own. Be ready to help, but remember everyone is on a journey. Many of us need to learn to speak up. Don’t feel you need to be the mouthpiece for others.
Thanks for reading this series. If you need to catch up on the other posts, here they are.
If you’d like more information on how we can help you attain better levels of gender diversity in your organization, just ask. Let us help you achieve sustainable success through the great men and women on your team!
M. Nora Bouchard, MA, PCC is a seasoned and deeply experienced executive coach. Over the last 20 years, Nora has guided men and women leaders in the tech industry. She appreciates the analytical mindset and is profoundly familiar with its light and dark sides. Nora is author of the ground-breaking book, Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. With over 10,000 hours of coaching, and hundreds of hours facilitating learning events, Nora can help you find your success. www.mnorabouchard.com.