Posted by: ginalazenby | February 17, 2017

Women’s wisdom at our San Francisco Women’s Gathering

womens-gathering-san-fran-feb-2016

Another wonderful women’s gathering. I have lost count of the women circles I have hosted over the last decade (in London, Yorkshire, Bali, San Francisco, Marin County, Mount Shasta, LA, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne …. Perth) but one thing is for sure, however enriching and nourishing they are, they just seem to get better.

Every circle introduces me to a new group of women and reconnects me with old friends who return in order to be in the precious space that we always co-create. And as the years go by, the wheel turns, I see both a recurrence of themes and patterns, re-expressed and amplified and also new insights and trends emerging. Each circle not only becomes a microcosm for a wider community of women in a place or city with its own special flavour for that moment in time or geography…… it also speaks to our universality and connectedness. When one woman speaks her truth and expresses her joys, frustrations, needs and passions, she also speaks for so many more women.

So let me share some of the insights from this last women’s gathering in San Francisco.

1 Retirement…… What retirement?
In the past, industrial ways of thinking and working have so culturally programmed women to think of our 60s as the time to retire. Of course many women do retire from paid work, some might take on more grandmother duties and traditional volunteering work (where would most countries be without that?!) it is fair to say that very few are idle.

An increasing number of older women have taken the words “slowing down” and “retirement” right out of their vocabulary. You can imagine how exciting it is to hear from women in their 70s talking about rebranding themselves and launching new business ventures, ventures that capitalise on their vast skill range, long careers and multifaceted lives. Like cheese and wine, we just get better with age!

2 Re-entering the corporate arena  …. as a new enhanced version
If there is one sure thing I can tell when I host these circles of women entrepreneurs, it is that they are full of corporate refugees. And as the system continues to spit out women, the age at which that is happening is much younger. It used to be that the 40s was the decade for women to succumb to burn-out and respond to the call to break free. Now sadly, many women in their 30s and late 20s are looking for the escape hatch seeking a means whereby they can earn a livelihood and live their values …at the same time.

As part of their their exploration of a new life after corporate, many women have shared how they have sought solace in the healing arts, researching and training in a variety of healing modalities. Some will take this on as a new profession (considerably less well-paid in the corporate role) as they feel it is so much more meaningful. While they continue expanding their identity they are finding ways to weave together a whole new range of communication, business, training and leadership skills with their new healing art modalities and spiritual approach. This all really does make for a new breed of businesswoman and it’s exciting that many of them are now repackaging their offerings and reversing back into corporate life (sometimes for assignments and projects rather than full-time roles). Business is changing and is crying out for new answers. Perhaps the new version of corporate-woman who is emerging is what is needed.

3 Women’s issues are men’s issues
We all agreed that enhancing the fortunes of women has to involve men. Some women found that it was easier to create change working with younger men. Many of the older guys are less open and flexible with much more fixed views of how women should be. They have difficulty with women being strong. Younger male colleagues are far less resistant than the older male bosses. Will they change or do we just wait for them to retire and die off?

I went to a sell-out 5000 strong women’s event in Silicon Valley where Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker there. It was incredible! Always researching and asking questions, I decided the most interesting attendees to talk to would be the men and there were just to handful of suits among a sea of femininity. I asked one guy why he was there. He replied “hey, don’t attack us please. You need our help!”  He was right. We have to involve more men in more conversations about our needs. The more we each understand how we use power differently the better for all. Anything that helps us will affect them too.

4 The company of women provides massive support
These female circles and communities are so nourishing. Many of us expressed that were are tired of working alone finding it particularly lonely when we are trying to create change. We can’t always fully see our value and recognise and own our strengths. Working with a supportive group of women enables us to get clarity on our personal gifts and the value in our feminine approach to business.The younger women wanted encouragement and support for developing their leadership but we older ones sometimes need that too.

5 Being different takes courage
When we lead differently, or approach anything in a different way, we have to learn to get over our fear and push ourselves. That’s why circles of support, particularly from women are essential. We are all learning to hold a space for what’s possible.

the next Women’s Gathering in San Francisco will be on Thursday February 23rd 2017. Read more and book here.

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