Posted by: ginalazenby | March 11, 2015

Wisdom from three generations of women: Gathering in San Francisco

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Women’s Gathering in San Francisco March 2015

Just before the International Women’s Day weekend, a group of professional women gathered in a private apartment in San Francisco. Together we created a wonderful ‘pot luck’ buffet supper. After the delicious food, the real nourishment started when we sat in a circle to share where we are in life …. each answering the question of what was alive in us right now. Such a sacred space to be …and so much wisdom shared. I share just a tiny bit here…..

What was a very much in evidence were the personal stories of women, of all ages, managing their own version of the BIG TRANSITION that the world is going through right now. Particularly post year 2000.
From an old way of doing business to a new way
From an old order to new order
From an old economy to a new economy
It’s not pretty and it’s not painless out there in the world, and each woman is finding her own way of being part of this shift, and in many cases LEADING it.

Once we women gather together and share our personal narratives, it’s becoming clear that our own individual journeys align with a much bigger global narrative for our times. We are not alone, we are ALL going through a shift, both personally and professionally.

Here are some examples of what the transition is looking like and the themes are emerging:

1 A mis-alignment of values
Many women have been on significant personal growth journeys of spiritual awareness, some for about five years but many for much longer than that. There comes a point where personal awareness is heightened and the woman is much more present to her own values and the need for her to start prioritising these and to live by them. This is often where inner peace meets outer problem …. and the woman’s energy and beingness simply becomes too much for the role she is in in an organisation. Or, alternatively, she takes a stand for herself and decides that she can no longer compromise her values within a work culture where there are often few positive values for her to align to. She is simply no longer willing to “fit in”.

At this point, many women leave their jobs or are in the transition space of preparing to leave, disconnecting from the loyalty she once had, and actively looking for new possibilities. These women have evolved to become extremely accomplished, professionally and personally, with high emotional intelligence and skills, and are an absolutely essential asset to the organisation they work in. These organisations are desperate to change (of course they don’t always recognise this) and this woman is superbly placed to play a key role in assisting the organisation to move from the OLD to the NEW. She has developed everything needed to thrive and be effective in the BIG TRANSITION.
But the organisation cannot see it.

Often senior people feel threatened. I can quite understand that, it’s an entirely human response to the colossal change so many are facing. Her departure really is a huge loss to the organisation and this values mis-alignment is probably a key reason why there is such a vacuum of women at the top of organisations. By the time they could slip into more senior or executive roles, many women are burned out, disillusioned or determined to seek an expansion of identity in a different place, where they hope they can start to thrive.

2 A NEW way of working is being embraced
Even women who have long been running their own enterprises (and are therefore not subject to the soul crushing experienced in some corporate cultures) ….. these women are relatively adept at transition, having made the leap from corporate employment years ago. Now they are witnessing a very personal change in no longer being able to accomplish and achieve in the OLD way, which is variously described as “EFFORTING” … PUSHING” … and being accustomed to hard work. Now, after periods of time where confusion and energy loss rendered them almost immobile and inactive, they are finding that the NEW ways of working that they are being guided to embrace totally, are more enjoyable and more productive. As one woman put it, from being called “Chief Make-It -Happen Officer” this NEW way is a complete about-face.

These NEW ways involve what many women are describing as a “feminine way” …. the vocabulary of this way of approaching business includes:

  • Allowing
  • Able to pause, rest and step back from issues
  • Being more present
  • Bringing Grace to situations
  • Valuing ‘being’ over ‘doing’
  • Having more fun
  • Expecting to experience joy
  • Seeking out more opportunities to collaborate and not working alone
  • Creating strong communities of support
  • Being much more open about their spiritual life in business
  • Completely honest

It’s all about giving up on the pushing and the stress of forcing events to happen in order to achieve big goals, and in doing so, it in no way means the game has got any smaller. Visions are not sacrificed, only effort. Women in this space, often older over 40 and 50, are not winding down and heading for early retirement. None of them want to play small, they say they are just getting started. They are feeling a stronger sense of purpose that is informing their professional and personal choices.

3 Life just gets better with age
When we gather in a women’s circle, the ages are commonly over 40 and often with a higher proportion of us in our 50s or 60s, so it’s really exciting to welcome so many more younger women in their 30s and even 20s. The age when women are waking up to the possibility of doing things differently, and hearing the call to step out of “the norm” and become an active part of the BIG TRANSITION is lowering. It feels like three generations of us are heading in the same direction!

Years ago, if I had been active in a women’s circle I think I would have been hearing how women over aged 60 were enjoying their retirements and I would simply expect them to share what they had learned in their lifetime of work.  Decades later, I’m totally thrilled and inspired by these older women making fresh starts and relaunching themselves out into the world through new enterprises in their 70s. It seems there is a generation of early rock and rollers who continue to feel the beat of life and are dancing their way, with energy, verve and grace, into an eighth decade of a purpose-filled life. It’s amazing and I am in awe of these fabulous women. They are such beautiful role models for all of us to follow.

It would be inappropriate to say that ALL women are leaving corporate life or shifting jobs. It’s either not possible or not what they want to do. Many women on the path of transition are doing the best they can .. where they are .. and consciously bringing a different energy to situations, even where nobody else notices. It’s a way of healing difficult situations that show up using the skills they have learned, in their own extra curricula of life study, and which are not necessarily noticed by others. They have a sense that they are making a difference even if it is not obvious to all around them .. and often that is enough.

 

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Responses

  1. Gina, thanks for chronicling some of the ways our relationship to ourselves and to the world is changing
    The world needs our leadership, our vision, our pragmatic willingness to get the job done, and our empathy – how much we care for the suffering of others. I find that as women, we are just coming to know the feminine way – sometimes projecting ideal fantasies onto what it means to move as a woman (ie. we all carry more compassion than men) and sometimes holding back in fear of being too visible (ie “who me a leader?”)
    Trust seems to be the ticket. Trusting our innate nature – as a woman. Our feminine wisdom as a source of insight, knowing, and taking action on that which matters the most to us.
    With trust – life gets better, our contribution increases, and we discover the kind of presence that moves us into authentic, powerful ways of being in the world.
    Our upcoming women’s retreat explores this territory of presence. I’ll add to the conversation with insights after the retreat on my blog http://www.karenwilhelmbuckley.com.

    • Yes beautifully put Karen …. and it is interesting to see the journey that younger women are making, coming into that trusting of themselves. I don’t see them replicating the journey that I made over time .. some of them are are moving much faster into the feminine leadership space which is great !


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