My first lessons in women's leadership

When I think about the first example of women leaders, I think of the women in my family. My mother, my aunts, and my grandmother. In order to know where you’re going, you must first understand who you are and where you come from. So much of who we are as women has much to do with the qualities and traits we inherit from our very first role models. What did we learn from them? How do we model some of the same actions, behaviors, and beliefs? And how do we become our own version of a great woman leader so that we can model it for the next generation?

In a word, the women of my family were: strong. They were women who emigrated from their home country of Jamaica to come to the states in search of better opportunities for their family. All they knew was how to be strong. A trait that I am positive was passed down to them from their ancestors. Women of my mother and grandmothers generation were counted on to be many things. In essence, they were the glue that held everything together.

Growing up, I watched the women in my family raise us kids, run a household, work extremely hard, defy incredible odds, overcome difficult challenges, give of themselves constantly, sacrifice over and over again, be the matriarch, protect their loved ones, and hold it all together day after day.

They were also nurturers, lovers, caregivers, confidants, healers, and incredible pillars of wisdom.

My grandmother was the matriarch of my family and someone I would come to know as a big dreamer. While spending most of her life in Jamaica she always dreamed of coming to the states to build a life for herself and her family. In 1972, she finally did. Her choice to come here was incredibly difficult. She took a major risk not knowing if everything would work out the way she imagined. If she failed, it would not only affect her but her children as well. But she did it anyway knowing that there was a larger mission at stake. Here she had an opportunity to create positive change, to carve a new path, and lead her family to where they would thrive. My grandmother stepped up to lead despite being afraid because she could only follow what she believed would be best at the time.

This kind of leadership is so prevalent in so many households. The women we know as mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, wives, girlfriends, students, best friends, managers, CEOs, entrepreneurs who lead every single day and do so much to change the world around us. They do not take a day off, they do not complain, they simple rise with faith, courage, and the vulnerability to pave the way for the rest of us.

We come from a long lineage of great women leaders. It’s in our DNA. From the sheroes we saw as little girls, they helped to shape and mold us to become the women we are today. We create a ripple effect by deciding who we want to be as leaders and the impact we leave on others. The power we have as women is manifold.

Our words, our actions, and our belief in ourselves have the power to effect real change. It first starts in our homes, with our families, in our communities, the workplace, within our business, and finally the world. Rising up into our leadership has never been more imperative; it’s up to us to show each other the way through truth, kindness, and unshakeable courage.

Who were your first role models of women leaders? What did you learn from them? How have they shaped who you are today?

Why Do We Stay? How Women Can Stop Denying Their Intuition and Get Unstuck

Image courtesy of Norwood Themes

Image courtesy of Norwood Themes

I sat across the table quietly listening to him talk. We were at the corner Chinese Food restaurant at the nearby corner from where we lived, waiting for our order. Same as we had many nights before when cooking at home seemed like too much work for our NYC too-busy-to-cook lifestyle. But this night was different. This night had the potential to change the course of my life. It was the night when it finally hit me that the man that I had spent the last seven years with was not going to be the man I would spend the rest of my life with.  As the words touched my ears, “I don’t want to get married”, I instantly felt drained. In a way his words confirmed my suspicions but actually hearing them said out loud were like daggers to the heart. And in that moment, what happened next can only be described in the same way near-death patients report having an experience of leaving their physical body. I felt as if my soul left my body and I actually watched myself sitting at the table listening to my ex boyfriend tell me the thing I didn’t want to hear. I then heard my own wisdom, a voice whisper to me advising me that this was not where I should be and it was time to leave. I had a choice: Was I going to stay with this guy knowing that he wasn’t going to put a ring on it? Or do I walk away?

I chose to stay. Less than a year later, we broke up. 

I recall that memory at the Chinese food restaurant a few years ago like it was yesterday. Looking back, I can really appreciate having had that experience because over the years since then, I’ve learned how to listen to and trust my intuition. And as it turns out, the breakup opened me up to a new joy in my life that I would not have had the opportunity to experience had I stayed in the relationship. Sometimes in order for our greatest wishes and desires to become a reality and for us to become the empowered women we know we can be, we need to let go of the things that hold us back in order to make room for the things that will support us. That’s just how life works sometimes.

I’ve had conversations with many women who’ve had their own Chinese restaurant moments.  A time in their lives, their career, or a relationship when it was clear that it was time for them to move on.  Yet we hesitate or doubt what we are truly feeling and brush it off. 90% of the time when we get an intuitive nudge about something, we respond by:

1.      Going into denial about it.

2.     Waiting it out with false hope that the situation will resolve on it’s own.

3.     Ignoring it all together.

In my example above, I chose option #2. That seems to be a popular option for many of us. I worked with a woman who knew it was time to leave her job but chose to stay and took on another role within the same company. A year later, that pit in the stomach feeling returned so she finally decided to listen. She made plans to leave the company and pursue another career path. She says when she didn’t listen to her intuition the first time, “It was like postponing the inevitable.”

When it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. And when we ignore this knowing that our bodies try to alert us to, we only prolong the inevitable.

If you sense that your intuition might be nudging you to move on from a situation that is no longer working, here are three practical ways to respond:

Get curious. Activate your self-inquiry. Ask your inner wisdom for more clarity about where it’s leading you to. If you are feeling resistance to moving on, ask yourself what is it that you fear about that idea. Curiosity opens you up to new answers and possibilities rather than staying stuck in your own judgment.

Talk it out. Gather your closest friends and confidants to let them know what you’re experiencing. Do this in a supportive group and ask them not to give you advice but just listen. Sometimes articulating your thoughts, feelings, and fears out loud helps you to hear yourself talk about it and take ownership of what you’re feeling.

Create a plan. If you determine that your intuition is right and it is time to move on, make a plan to do so. Understanding that it is not always easy to just walk away from a situation, making a plan with concrete steps will allow you to take incremental steps while honoring your inner wisdom.

If you’re currently facing your own situation and you feel it’s time to leave, don’t delay the inevitable. Choosing to leave a situation that is no longer working for you is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself. Listen to your intuition and determine your next course of action.

With love,

Ariane

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Guest Post on Meditative Arts: Why I Will Never Photoshop

As a photographer, I stand against using Photoshop in my work in a way that extensively manipulates an image to either create or take away from what I think makes a persons beauty shine.  And as a woman, I am in touch with the constant pressures of needing to look and feel perfect.  

But I say, beauty always starts from within.

 

"We can be emotional, we think with our hearts, and are stepping up to lead the world single-handedly. Shouldn’t that be included in what defines our overall beauty? These are the qualities that empower us to shine in our own unique way".

Click on image below to read more here from my guest post on Meditative Arts.

See Beauty...

Ariane 

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