Archive 2011 Marian Baker

That question, “Why can’t women break into the top jobs?”  is heating up again. Have you noticed ?

I came to a new epiphany about this. It reminded me of the Einstein quote, We can’t solve problems at the same level of consciousness/ thinking at which we created them.

We can keep researching best practices and pour out tips like “you have to make the tough choice to not go to the school play, be more visible, find a sponsor” or other sensible strategic advice.  The drumbeat in many seminars, etc. still seems to be, if you really want to win- you need to play more like the boys play. There’s an inherent challenge in this, of course.

Will smart women continue to opt out of working harder (and sacrificing more) to climb to the C-suite if they feel it’s still the patriarchal game?

We’re still hearing, (either as a lament or as advice) that “successful” women make to the very top by being like men. Not like wonderful men we admire and adore. More like this ball-busting, workaholic stereotype that’s insulting to both genders.

A few years ago, I wrote, “What do we want to keep pushing for?…how long shall we measure success as parity with old story corporate male… liberation in the 21st century needs to also seek beyond climbing that ego-driven ladder, tune within– do the deep work of listening to our souls, embracing our sacred feminine nature.” (see essay below) 

Now I’m shaken up again. We are being invited to expand beyond personal fulfillment, professional accomplishment and wake up to a much larger understanding of what being your best self truly means.

What if we need to shift the questions from “Why can’t women…. or “How do we get more women promoted?” to

What could be so compelling that women would do whatever it takes to get into top leadership roles? 

I sense that we need a deeper, higher Why. 

Consider expanding from individual success and women’s empowerment all the way to evolution of society, humanity, our children’s children’s’ futures. What is at stake if we don’t evolve beyond business as usual? I love Margaret Wheatley’s questions: What’s possible? and then, Who cares about this? 

If the incentives to push harder are predominantly left brain-oriented conquests (more money, prestige, power, etc.), many women will trade breaking through the glass ceiling for lifestyles and career choices that feel more in sync with who they truly are.

What if  our understanding of “being true to Self” is expanding? Consider the deeper Why is to honor a higher calling– for more women to realize we are the torchbearers and midwives of society’s future.

If we can adapt as necessary (for now in patriarchal cultures) and Be the Change (to evolve culture as we get more seats at the right tables), will more women be willing to take a stand, to be on an inspired mission to improve life for everyone? Woman, man, child, polar bears and bees- everyone wins. We unite in joyful commitments to have more conscious, integrated human beings in leadership roles influencing how the world is run. What does it mean to be an authentic, inspired leader today, beyond gender stereotypes- integrating the best of  left brain/right brain, inner/outer ?

And we’re delighted to do this with evolving men, of course. What kind of world do we want future generations to inherit from us? How much are we willing to swim upstream for this legacy? Many of the tactics to “get to the top” (for now) could be the same. However, a soul-rousing deeper Why gives us the velocity of conviction to include this and transcend it in the long run.

Now, when this comes down to me coaching an individual woman- it’s a complex, delicate exploration. If we’re talking about her true heart’s desires for spending more time with her children (or any other compelling value choice) rather than assertively going for top position- it’s natural for me to encourage her to be true to her heart. Here’s where it gets fascinating– what does that really, really mean? Could being true to the deepest heart mean sacrificing X for the sake of Greater Good over generations to come? Or being a role model of success in authentic servant leadership is part of being a great parent? Or getting top positionsmay not actually be the primary way women will be a leading force in our evolution? I don’t know the answers of course, and I’m extremely curious to keep learning.

If you’ve read this far, I admire and love you- Virtual hug from me and clink of glass of wine over pedicures  Let’s continue to explore this edge together! Love to hear your comments, healthy challenging perspectives possibly, suggestions for inspiring content for this learning community?

Archive 2008 Marian Baker

When Women Wake, Mountains Move

New research* has stirred up that old question, "Why can't women break into the boys club at top levels?" A Catalyst study says that it will take 40 to 73 years to catch up with men (if current trends continue). What fascinates me today is a different question; What should we be pushing for? How much do we want to keep measuring success by professional parity with corporate men? Equal pay and equal access to the corner office are still important and noble missions. I want my "sisters" out there to succeed in all the ways they wish to! However, after more than ten years of coaching hundreds of achievers, I have a humbling appreciation for what people really want—and beyond a better life- what leads to a better world. Women's liberation in the 21st century needs to also seek beyond climbing that ego-driven ladder, and really tune within-- to do the deep work of listening to our souls, embracing our sacred feminine nature.

In spite of our accumulation of material wealth and technology, we have a poverty of inspiration. We are not tuning in to our authentic selves enough. We recharge cell phones more than plug into inner wisdom. Lack of inspiration is expensive. It’s a threat to our personal, career, economic and global health.

Our world needs inspired, conscious feminine energy now more than ever. That takes vitality, heart and courage. This requires self care and recharging your own spirit first. Woman’s first step for humankind could be a pedicure and an afternoon off!

What’s new about this?

This is not about the worn-out work-life balance topic. Something new is brewing—deeply in individual souls and in the world’s collective consciousness. There is a groundswell of bright, achieving women feeling disenchanted, craving balance and higher purpose, or called to make a difference. More professional women are ready to prioritize mind-body-spirit vitality and meaningful work rather than sacrifice these while trying to compete in ways that are out of sync with her true self. Who wants to keep pushing to break through a glass ceiling if this leads to more stress and lifestyles that are hazardous to one’s psychological, physical, spiritual and ethical health? I believe this is a smart, ultimately positive restlessness among awakening women. Professionals come to me seeking their higher purpose much more than just higher paychecks.

We are at the threshold of redefining success, reclaiming joy and revolutionizing "working smart."

Our culture has been operating in an ego-driven, patriarchal system for too long, like a car driving on two wheels, with escalating speed. Pushing the car over into a girl’s club dominance isn’t the answer either, of course. It’s time for us to create an evolved integration of inner/outer and feminine/masculine energies within us all to enjoy the ride of our true destinies. That doesn't mean we all leave our businesses and go meditate on the mountain. The new story of success is about proudly bringing more authentic, inner- inspired selves into our lives, livelihood and leadership.

“The Future of the World Depends on Women”

- Kofi Annan, Director General, United Nations
I think professional women will be a leading force in this movement toward more enlightened living, working and citizenship. We need to gather together to build stamina and momentum.

The planet needs our compassion and our fierce strength, like that mother bear energy, protecting her cubs. Modern spiritual rebel-rouser, Marianne Williamson, has said that it is the adult female of a group who leads the way towards conscious change that can heal and protect the long-term survival of a species. Of course, we still want to celebrate all of the magnificent qualities of men, while bringing more women to the table. (Did you know that the U.S. falls below 84 other nations’ percentage of women in government?)

We need to encourage more feminine potency expressing itself in both genders, for the higher good of all people.

Having conscious, evolved people in leadership is paramount (which is about essence, not just gender). What if we could truly enjoy clinking glasses in a more integrated, authentic human club? Don't we all want to infuse more healthy nourishment, compassion, integrity, thoughtful decision making and smart relationship building into how our world is run?

If we join our amazing hearts, brains and hands more, we can stir up a revolution. If you are reading this, you are a woman of power. You have choices to make and a voice to use toward a world that works for all of us.

This is great news for alert human beings willing to embrace change. Rest assured that this all starts with more self love and breathing room in your own life, not working harder to heroically save the planet or a hostile take over of our business culture. Also, this is about being enthusiastically for positive evolution, not angry activism against anything. If you could have tea with Gandhi, he’d tell you the same thing. Have FUN with this. Post a note on your computer with a smiley face: Have you hugged your soul today? Meet me for pedicures and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at six. As more of us support each other to create harmony and soul satisfaction within our own lives, we will fuel harmony in the world. Are you in?

* Research: The Chicago Network 2007 Census Report 

"For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." - Virginia Wolf  

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