I am not a 2-paver woman. Those women leave no path behind them. They own two paving stones. One they place on the ground, and holding the other aloft, they step gingerly onto the first paving stone. They place the second paving stone on the ground and step off the first onto the second. They then, turn around and pick up the first paving stone, while maintaining their balance on the second. Repeating the motion, they set the course through their lives, leaving no stones behind.
I am a woman who will fashion stones from what I have, gather others to make new paths, secure funding to build sustainable paths over rocky ground, and then invite others to use the path as a shortcut to their destination.
If I have the opportunity to meet creative, inspiring and motivated women who are courageously forging their own identity in the pursuit of meaning and economic independence, then count me in!
Thank you to Business South West for providing just that opportunity by inviting me to speak at the Women in Business Networking Breakfast this week.
Speaking about one’s journey can be a confronting experience. Let’s examine the challenge. From the approximately 20,000 hours that I have lived, my remit was to identify salient life experiences that would be inspirational to other women in business. Wrap that in framework of useable strategies and deliver it in under an hour. Thank you for the positive feedback that you gave me, and I believe I achieved that goal.
My ode to Robert Frost’s ‘Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood’, and the brief introduction of the work of Scott Peck, outlined in his first book, title ‘The Road Less Travelled – New psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth’, was to provide a framework for what I consider the most essential tool for life success, emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is not a ‘soft skill’ as it has been begrudgingly referred to, but rather when applied, provides the essential framework of any business, which relies on human capacity for enterprise, productivity and profit.
I truly believe, to build effective relationships and create a transformative work culture of excellence, it requires leading with integrity and living a life congruent with your values.
Scott Peck’s community building stages replicate the ‘forming, storming, norming, performing, transforming’ organisational theory. The core message is the need to connect with others, to truly understand them and act with responsibity to enable, enrich and extend their human capacity and in doing so, secure your own growth in actualisation. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)
Below are some of my lessons that I have learnt throughout my career:
- lead with integrity – understand the role and the responsibility of leadership
- know yourself and your team – values, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, personality, abilities, challenges, areas for improvement
- set realistic boundaries for yourself regarding achievement – know when to say ‘no’
- communicate with others with intent for it is your intent that will govern the outcome of any interaction
- create an adult workspace and a separate social space for fun
- promote a no blame /no shame culture
- ensure there is no gossip and no bitching (you set the culture by your own actions, if you behave this way, you set the ‘green light’
- admit that you don’t have all the answers and ask for creative input ( show your human fragility)
- develop emotional intelligence or hire people to have well developed emotional intelligence to build your strategic relationships for you
- acknowledge the role of team members (individually and team) – positive feedback, praise, reward and recognition
- tackle the difficult ( performance management)
If you asked a man to live the life that many women accept as the ‘norm’, including the juggle of work and day care, developing enterprise and innovation, endless demands of 24/ 7 parenting, shared or total economic responsibility, the maintenance of effective friendships and intimate relationships, most men would laugh in your face or tell you where you can shove that ridiculous and unrealistic expectation!
But still women think they should.
Is this really good for our sustained health and wellbeing? I’d argue not…
You can have it all, but not at the same time…..
Along the road less travelled, I learnt that lesson the hard way.