Stop Fixing Yourself! Embracing Paradox in Your Path to Wholeness

Stop Fixing Yourself! Embracing Paradox in Your Path to Wholeness

When I was working in publishing, we had a name for the January publishing season: New Year, New You. We would publish books that focused on fresh starts for healing and change.

I am not against change — our evolution gives our lives meaning and direction — but I do object to this idea that we need to be better. Because doing so suggests that we are somehow inherently broken.

Countless times in my life, I have pulled at my imaginary blazer, straightened my spine, and fueled a new perspective with resolve and will, going to war with myself in the name of change.

I have willed myself to wake up at 5 a.m. for Crossfit classes, bit my tongue to combat my impulsive reactions with my spouse, resolved to juice every morning, journaled, set intentions, wrote my goals on cards, cut out sugar, and so much more in the name of being a better version of myself.

All of my undesired repetitive behaviors became public enemy no. 1 on my hit list for change.

But what was “change” exactly?

180 degrees from where I was. The opposite of what I was doing. An about-face. For so many years, change meant turning my back on pain, or that which I didn’t want, and moving toward a (perceived) more desirable state or circumstance.

But it was more than that. I wanted to feel more in control of how I was showing up and I wanted to feel 100 percent authentically whole.

Sounds reasonable, right? Don’t we all want to feel whole? Wait…what does that really mean, anyway?

World-renowned Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung focused his life’s work on the personal quest for wholeness.

One of his most famous ideas was that wholeness comes from the conjunction of opposites.

In essence, he wasn’t interested in what the opposites have in common — he was interested in polarity and giving birth to a third entity: experience and perspective. A way of being that does not swing from one end to the other (nor is it a blend of the two opposing elements) but is an emergence of a totally new expression of ourselves, a unique presence that can only be birthed through the navigating of paradox in our lives.

 

What is wholeness?

 

What did Jung mean by wholeness?

He was referring to creating a more cohesive connection between our unconscious and our conscious awareness.

So we are not ruled by the unconscious, we have more harmony with the collective unconscious, and we become more creatively in control of how we express ourselves in the world.

In essence, so we’re less reactive and more creative.

Real change is achieved — not by solving problems — but through navigating the paradox in our lives, thereby giving rise to a new version of ourselves that continues to evolve, continues to emerge and reinvent itself.

The more we bravely face paradox as an opportunity for wholeness, the more real and lasting change we will bring about in ourselves – and the world!

Polarized either/or thinking narrows our focus and leaves little room for innovative and creative thinking.

The process of navigating paradoxes encourages a “yes, and” approach that recognizes the value of each side and also the possibility of what Jung refers to as the “third way” – and maybe even a fourth or fifth way! (Can you think of a few places in society that could use a little “third way” right now?)

 

Four Wholeness Half-Truths

 

Shifting our thought patterns and rewiring our processes isn’t easy.

We’ve been living in a matrix of either/or thinking for not only our own lives but through the collective consciousness and hardwiring of our ancestors.

Either/or paradoxical thinking isn’t all wrong, either. Most of the time it’s only partially wrong (or right). The good news is that all we need to do to escape these wholeness half-truths is to examine them — and put them through the process of exploration, reinvention, and curiosity.

Half-Truth #1: Wholeness Means Perfections

We become whole through the process of bringing awareness and self-compassion to the tensions of opposites in our lives.

I want to be present for my family but I also want to grow my business, which will take me away from my family.

Turning our attention toward these unconscious influences and how these influences drive our conscious decisions are what make us whole — not the “fixing” of them.

By simply getting curious about these tensions and learning how to understand how they live and express in our lives, we naturally give birth to a new perspective, a new relationship, a new feeling about ourselves — and the tensions.

Half-Truth #2: Trade-Offs Are Unavoidable

Wow, this is a big one. How many times have you heard the phrase, “You can have it all, just not at once”?

Trade-offs are another way of pitting opposite desires against one another, making us feel trapped and exhausted.

When we try to connect our conscious experience with our subconscious patterning and tendencies, we become incredibly creative. We start to recognize the limiting behaviors and beliefs that keep us from the power of creative choice. Only then can we fully start creating the life we want.

It takes practice. But through contemplating the seemingly opposite energies of a “trade-off,” more choices become available to us.

When we stop seeing situations as “either/or” tradeoffs, we open our eyes to new ways. Suddenly, the list of items on the menu is long. We’re not only ordering from just a seasonal tasting menu; we can ask the kitchen to make us anything we want.

We have more opportunities for a third or fourth or fifth way to emerge (or more!). We feel more like we are participating in our lives rather than being pushed and pulled by events or limitations.

It’s the search for the pot of gold that is the real reward — not the gold itself.

Half-Truth #3: Wholeness is a Mental Concept

Many of us are working hard for an improved experience this year. Both 2020 and 2021 didn’t live up to our expectations. So how can we make 2022 better? How can we “fix” this year before it takes off?

When we stop trying to “fix ourselves” and we lean into what is true for us in any given paradox, we get information in return.

We feel resonance and emotions. We hear things differently.

With more curiosity and attention to language, our intuition (or our “gut instincts”) provide more information about a situation than we could ever glean from critical thinking alone.

We don’t resolve paradoxes; we simply multiply our available choices and perspectives.

We develop a deeper understanding of what we want and how we can connect the subconscious with the conscious minds.

Wholeness is a mental concept — and it’s also a feeling of awareness.

Half-Truth #4: Wholeness Makes us Holy

Life will dish up many paradoxes in our lifetime.

We can expect to get better at navigating these tensions in our lives by having a better connection between our conscious awareness and our subconscious mind.

But if you emerge from one paradox with a new perspective, your work is far from done.

You don’t go to heaven, you don’t get a graduation degree, you don’t become “suddenly” enlightened (though maybe you do become more enlightened).

What you get are skills.

Probably the most important skill you can ask for in this life is the skill to find a way forward. No matter what the obstacle. No matter how many failures you’ve encountered. No matter what your past. The skill of optimism, resilience, and ultimate creativity.

The more we embrace paradoxes, the more tolerant we become of contrast in our lives.

Challenges become growth opportunities that will evolve us in ways we could not have imagined.

So let’s reframe our challenges as paradoxes. Let’s shift the focus from how we don’t measure up to increasing our choices. Let’s stop reaching for that “one true thing” and instead invite curiosity to take its place.

This is how we become whole in the only eyes that matter — our own.

 

From Internal Flame to Emerging FIRE

 

It feels as though we’ve made up for the glacial pace of 2020 with this year passing by in the blink of an eye!

My instinct this time of year is to slow things down, to enjoy the deep dive of the darker days and go inward, to surrender fully into stillness…aaaaah.

And yet this year the world seems to be swirling with aliveness, with the coming emergence of the light in a way I have not felt since the beginning of the pandemic.

Are you feeling this too?

[SPOILER ALERT: Changes, Reinvention and BIG Emergence coming your way soon!]

From Internal Flame to Emerging FIRE

In the Northern Hemisphere, today is the shortest day of the year – the day when our access to the Sun’s power is at its lowest.

According to Rudolf Steiner, this is the opportunity for us to turn inward, to draw power from our own light. In Waldorf education, one of the many creations of Steiner, the children walk a large spiral, in the dark, to a lone candle in the middle, where they light their candle and walk back out through the spiral, but this time with their light to guide them. It’s so tender to see their nervous little faces as they walk to the light, only to walk back out with an energy of triumph!

Do not underestimate this light within you, even though it may seem so very small and distant at times.

In the long nights of winter, the strength of our internal light is enough to navigate even the darkest of times — like the effects of a loooong pandemic!

This tiny flame is the fire-starter that will set your emerging journey ablaze.

And while the novel coronavirus has taken so much from us, it did offer us something in return.

Before 2020, it felt like we were on autopilot. Floating through our lives, striving for the next thing. The next promotion. The next speaking gig. The next relationship. The things that would — should — make us happy in the long run.

But what I learned in the past few years is that the answers aren’t outside of us. We don’t need to go on a solo trip around the world to find ourselves (and believe me, I have a dream!).

As much as we love Elizabeth Gilbert (and we do!), we can’t Eat Pray Love our way out of the world’s pain and suffering. Everything we need to be happy and fulfilled, we can find within ourselves.

This pandemic has given us the ability (and time!) to turn ourselves inward. Which inevitably ends up turning us back outward. When we do the work to connect to ourselves and fill our cups through self-care and rest, we are then able to move this energy outward and use it to nurture our relationships.

And to do the work that really matters. In a way that works for US.

Last year, we were stretched and stretched and stretched all year long. We learned just how resilient we are.

This year? We ride the fire.

Together.

I’m so grateful for you, the Emerging Women tribe. I’m grateful for the relationships we’ve forged throughout the years and for our shared humanity.

However you celebrate this time of year may you feel the love that surrounds you.

Leadership Equity: A New Paradigm for Power

Leadership Equity

The way power is playing out right now is just not working.

Our current power structure is based on an old model that was designed to reflect the needs and the desires of just a small representation of humanity. Our view of power has become distorted and unhealthy, and it’s not inclusive of the voices and perspectives in our world today.

What we want is equitable, equal, just, and compassionate power. Not power over, but power with.

What we need is a new system of power that best reflects our shared humanity.

Leadership Equity is personal, community-driven, and systemic power that is used for the service of others and is representative of our diversity.

What Is Leadership Equity?

Similar to financial equity, Leadership Equity is a balance sheet of assets; yet, instead of financial assets, we’re talking about our influential assets: our clout, influence, and position in our communities and the world.

It is the value we’ve built through our work in current leadership platforms.

Yet the definition of equity doesn’t just speak to what we own — it also refers to how we use what we have in this world. The true definition of equity is: “the quality of being fair and impartial.”

True Leadership Equity isn’t used to benefit ourselves and our own communities. Leadership Equity is best used when helping to level the playing field for others.

The three ways in which we can build leadership equity within ourselves and out in the world are within the realms of:

— I
— We
— The World

Our growth, development, and impact in all three dimensions are what creates our Leadership Equity. How we use this equity within these three realms is how we shape our vision of the world.

Leadership Equity in the Realm of I

Everything starts inside the Realm of I.

All ideas start as whispers from our inner voice. These ideas are influenced and birthed by our values and belief systems. What matters most to me?

My truth. My acceptance. Celebration of my stories.

Our individual wholeness is the root of our personal expression in the world. All of us have personal power. Just by being here and taking up space.

For many, drive comes from overcompensation for our not-enoughness. We’re motivated ‘to become’ to hide our fears and vulnerabilities and to un-become what we don’t want the world to see.

But when we source our drive from deep, deep, radical self-acceptance, we can give up the war we have with ourselves, our not-enoughness, and our falling-shorts.

Leadership in the Realm of I starts with self-compassion. When our drive begins with self-compassion instead of a ‘covering-up’, only then can we risk vulnerability, failure, and hard lessons.

Leadership Equity in the Realm of We

We cannot be fully expressed as human beings in isolation. To what end are we doing this work on ourselves if not to take that representation — those ideas, truths, acceptance, and stories — into the world, into our relationships and communities?

When we emerge from our dark night of the soul, we are inspired to lead with the truth of who we are, and to do so with others. Our natural impulse is to share ourselves with others so that we may feel the power of belonging. Belonging is not about fitting in, it’s about fitting with – lending our unique imprint as we fit together with others to make a whole.

We must ask ourselves, “How can we connect with and support others as we are reaching for the stars ourselves?”

But sometimes people are scared of too much ‘We’ space. We’re afraid the people around us will dull our unique gifts or we will go unnoticed by the world.

This can happen – when there’s not enough diversity in the people around us.

If you find yourself scared of ‘We’ space, if you’re finding your gifts dulled within your communities, ask yourself:

Am I swimming in sameness?

While there may be comfort in surrounding yourself in people like yourself, sameness doesn’t have the same chemistry, spark, innovation, and grit as a diverse group.

The antidote to sameness is reaching for differences.

Reach for differences to build teams and communities with as much diversity in terms of:

— Race
— Gender
— Socioeconomic background
— Identity
— Perspective

Encourage new patterns, new solutions, and new thinking, and you’ll foster true innovation.

When we’re in the ‘We’ space, we need to pay attention to our language, set our intention, and welcome the gifts of curiosity. But above all, we need to place checks and balances on ourselves to ensure we’re creating an inclusive environment when we’re in this space.

Leadership Equity in the Realm of the World

I + We = The World

The Realm of the World represents whole-person leadership, relationships, communication, influence, and impact. The I and

The We create The World we live in.

Our old idea that The World just ‘happens’ and we respond to it is just not correct.

All the roads, the buildings, all the systems that support the functioning of our World are all direct results of efforts put forth by ‘The I’ and ‘The We’. Systems produce the results they were designed to produce. If we’re not getting the results we want, we need to change the system.

This is good news because we have more control than we think to make the world around us reflect what we want.

Leadership in the Realm of the World builds systems that reflect what we want and produce the outputs we desire.

Leadership in the Realm of the World means ensuring our systems are set up for inclusion and equality.

We need to evaluate every system (from our talent evaluation meetings to our hiring processes and our political landscape) to ensure they’re inclusive and that all races, genders, cultures, and bodies have a seat at the table.

We all have some level of clout, influence, and position (even if it’s only within our own families and communities). Our Leadership Equity is the value we’ve built up through our work in current leadership platforms, but also the work we have done on ourselves and in our communities.

What are you doing with the Leadership Equity you’ve built?

Leadership Equity Starts with Connection

Leadership Equity should be used to help level the playing field for others.

Doing so not only benefits others — but it benefits all the realms, from The World to The We to The I.

And Leadership Equity starts with connection.

First with the connection to yourself, to your truth, and knowing who you are. Then with your connection to others. Connection to your teams and to your community and connection to the earth, our world — and all of life. Emerging into being is so much more powerful when we do it with others.

When we structure our lives this way, Leadership Equity stops being the topic of conversation and just becomes the natural order of things.

Leadership Equity is the natural order of things.

Big Love to the Women That Went First

Women

From 2020 to 2021, we’ve seen a lot of ‘firsts’ for women.

First female vice president, first female secretary of treasury, and several ‘first’ female CEOs of major national brands, including the first black female Fortune 500 CEO (that would be Rosalind Brewer, former COO of Starbucks and now CEO of Walgreens).

We also saw a record number of women voted into political positions around the U.S.

I’d like to take a moment to thank a few women who have risen to inspire the world, so that future generations don’t need to think twice about whether they can do something because the role models will already be established.

She looks like me, will be the norm, not the exception in the future because there will be plenty of women in politics, science, finance, business, and entertainment — thanks to the women on this list.

1. Swati Mohan

Swati Mohan was the Indian-American aerospace engineer behind the scenes of the Perseverance Rover on Mars.

And while this should be big news (huge!), it feels like her role as Guidance and Controls Operations Lead wasn’t as highly publicized as it should have been.

Nearly 60 years after three brilliant mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson helped NASA launch astronaut John Glenn (the first person to orbit the earth) into the atmosphere in 1962, women are still ‘Hidden Figures’ in the U.S. space program.

But thanks to Mohan, Johnson, Vaughan, Jackson and so many others, women now not only have a seat at NASA — we’re also in charge of the controls, too.

Photo Credit: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Janet Yellen2. Janet Yellen

On January 26, Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first female U.S. secretary of the treasury. Already, Yellen has hit the ground running.

This year doesn’t mark her first ‘first’ either: from 2014 to 2018, she served as the 15th chair of the Federal Reserve.

She was appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1994 and was named Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers in 1997. I have a feeling that Janet is going to show us the money in a new way through a lens of compassion and wisdom.

Photo Credit: SammyWaffle!, CC BY-SA 4.0

Amanda Gorman3. Amanda Gorman

At the age of 22, Amanda Gorman was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate (not just the first female youth poet laureate, the first-ever ever!) and is the youngest inaugural poet in the U.S.

She kind of ‘stole’ the 2021 inauguration with her poem, “The Hill We Climb”. Her words inspired us without sugar-coating our experience nor our history. Nor did it ignore the work we must continue to do to fight for democracy and equality.

Her performance was so talked-about that she didn’t just nearly upstage the president and vice president — but she also somehow managed to upstage J. Lo and Lady Gaga! More AG, please!

Photo Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States, CC BY 2.0

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala4. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first female finance minister of Nigeria was named Forbes’ African Person of the Year 2020.

On March 1, she was named director-general of the World Trade Organization. She is both the first woman and the first African to hold this title.

Bringing more women into leading trade and business for the world? Now that is going to bring change!

Photo Credit: International Monetary Fund (photographer uncredited), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jill Biden5. Jill Biden

The First Lady has started her term with so much energy, compassion, and empathy. Her commitment to education is just what we need to see in our leadership right now.

And can we talk about her inauguration dress?

(No, we wouldn’t be talking about a man’s inauguration outfit, but would a man even think to wear a cashmere coat embroidered with every state flower?)

We at EW can’t wait to see this dress in person someday in the (hopefully) near future at the National Museum of American History exhibit.

Photo Credit: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Kamala Harris6. Kamala Harris

I couldn’t even think of a list of women that inspire me without Kamala Harris on it. Our first female, first black, first Asian-American vice president!

She’s officially the highest-ranking woman in government.

And this isn’t even her first ‘first’, either. She was the second black female and the first South Asian-American senator. She also served as San Francisco’s and California’s district attorney.

Kamala is bringing it, people – cannot wait to watch her leadership transform our nation.

Photo Credit: United States Senate, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Shonda Rhimes7. Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is not only the highest-paid showrunner in Hollywood, but she’s also one of the first showrunners to land an exclusive deal with Netflix. And I for one am so glad she did.

Bridgerton, anyone? WOW. What it means to reinterpret our past through this lens of diversity (not to mention the Billy Elish classical dance music) is just so, so creative!

It’s so beautiful how the show normalizes equity and inclusion, making stepping into these themes so much easier in the present, and for the future.

Photo Credit: Greg Hernandez from California, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0

Jacinda Ardern8. Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern is easily one of my favorite female politicians (not to mention leaders). She became the New Zealand House of Representatives’ youngest member at the age of 28 and the country’s youngest in more than one-and-a-half centuries!

But what has impressed me most over the course of the past year is her (and New Zealand’s) response to COVID-19. The country was able to control the virus with a death toll of only 25 people.

New Zealand was largely free of the virus for the majority of 2020, thanks to Ardern’s leadership.

Photo Credit: Governor-General of New Zealand, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ava DuVernay9. Ava DuVernay

In addition to the long list of TV shows and movies she’s directed and produced, Ava DuVernay has been a leader in both the black rights and women’s rights movements.

After speaking on diversity panels, telling industry leaders how to close inequality gaps, she decided to simply show them how to do it. And so she created a platform to help close that gap called ARRAY, a grassroots distribution, arts, and advocacy collective focused on films by people of color and women.

Photo Credit: MTV International, CC BY 3.0

Directors and producers can no longer cry, “I don’t know how to diversify my project,” because they now have a platform of diverse talent that they can now pull from.

Join me in celebrating these women (and all the other women that have had to ‘go first’ and bust holes in glass ceilings) not just for the month of March — but all year long.

Empathy Moves Mountains: The First Step in Creating the World We Want to Live In

white privilege

When people we love, our communities, and the entire world are at their most vulnerable, my first impulse is to jump to “fix-it” mode. Yet recently I have realized that this can be a diversion, a way to avoid the real work of fixing — feeling.

With the world crying out for change, it’s a time to act, to lead with our voices, but it’s also a time to follow…and to feel.

‘Feeling it’ is a critical step in the process of healing trauma, grief, anxiety, negative thinking patterns, collective anger, and other painful experiences that seem to be on rotation these days.

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, I was too busy to pay attention to my feelings. Busy pivoting my business. Busy juggling fractions and grammar and homeschooling. Busy making sure my kids weren’t spending all day living in 50 different Minecraft realms.

And when I had a second to breathe, I was inhaling the scent of what was on everyone else’s limited menu of COVID feelings: fear, anxiety, grief.

Still, I soldiered on, stuffing those feelings aside. I needed to get through. We all did. There was too much to worry about to pay attention to everything.

Then, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brook, and so many others. And the 1,298 black U.S. citizens shot by the police in the past year — the ones whose deaths went unnoticed because body cams had been turned off and good samaritans weren’t nearby with their phones ready and waiting.

Not to mention the fact that people of color are dying of COVID at a rate of 3.57 times more than white people. According to the CDC:

“Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons have a rate approximately five times that of non-Hispanic white persons, non-Hispanic black persons have a rate approximately five times that of non-Hispanic white persons, Hispanic or Latino persons have a rate approximately four times that of non-Hispanic white persons.”

With all of this coming at me at once, I broke. I crossed a threshold. In my confusion and the chaos around me, with the graphic media in front of me and when I could not look away, I fell apart. All of a sudden, I couldn’t think straight for the rage in my heart. I felt like I was going to be sick and that feeling of nausea is still with me.

Author Glennon Doyle said at an Emerging Women Live event:

Glennon Doyle
Glennon Doyle & Chantal Pierrat at Emerging Women Live

“Show me what breaks your heart and I will tell you your purpose.” (Do you not freaking love this?)

What I realized is that what breaks my heart is abuse of power and the suppression of personal freedom. What breaks my heart is when people are subjugated, unable to speak freely, and prevented from fully actualizing the truth of who they are.

Think of all the unexpressed potential that gets buried with these restricted souls!

This breaks my heart, and this is why I have dedicated my life to increasing women’s leadership, helping women be seen and heard, and creating a new paradigm for power that is sourced from our shared humanity.

When the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, we hosted co-founder Alicia Garza as a speaker at our national conference Emerging Women Live in 2017.

I remember digging into my own privilege and biases at that time, feeling overwhelmed by the issue and desperate to train myself ‘out of my white eyes’ — desperate to fix myself and find solutions to the racial tensions I was feeling in the women’s movement.

Then one of our African-American speakers, Promise Phelon, said to me, “Things will change when white people get as angry as black people are.”

Promise Phelon
Promise Phelon, Emerging Women Live

I did not understand this at the time. I thought, but I don’t feel angry.

As a Women’s Studies major, I consciously decided that I was not going to be an ‘angry’ feminist. Those women were too much, too confronting, they made me feel… uncomfortable.

Yes, I wanted change, but only acceptable change, change that was approved by those in power. I chose to fight for change while playing by the rules.

But being able to choose when to “fit in” and when to go against the grain is in itself a privilege. One that is not afforded to black women of color.

In our patriarchal system, we can see white privilege showing up in so many places, and we also see the privilege of the masculine. In our dominant culture, we over-privilege the mind, the rational, the measurable, the controllable, and we demonize the unknown, the mysterious. Anything that falls under the category of unpredictable or anecdotal, such as the more nuanced world of the emotions, the heart.

We demonize emotions, especially the messy ones. We reward actions, especially ones that can be categorized under ‘advance and conquer’. We climb upward and onward without knowing why we want the promotion or what we would even buy with a six-figure salary. And the real rewards — emotional intelligence and personal development — become consolation prizes.

As a white woman I learned early on that emotions were dangerous, something to hide, something to apologize for, and to keep tidy. And as a spiritual devotee, I learned to detach from my emotions, to distrust them, to rise above them as the truly enlightened did, not muck around in such gross and relative states of consciousness.

But again, I was always afforded the choice to control my emotional footprint as a white woman.

Conversely, the angry black woman stereotype haunts black women of color every day, regardless of their level of expression. Just ask Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, and Shonda Rhimes.

Enter: fix-it mode. My sleeves rolled up, I told myself: I am doing something. Isn’t that more important than getting angry?

For six years, I was dedicated to using the Emerging Women Live platform to amplify this conversation, to filling our presenters’ list with diverse speakers, to making certain that I did not accidentally misstep as I hosted the stage for 550 women navigating this complex issue of race and what it means to be inclusive — me, a white woman with untrained privileged eyes and a whole lot more questions than answers.

Looking back I see my efforts as the white savior mode at its best. If we fix the pain we caused, the pain we’ve profited off and ignored for centuries, we don’t need to sit with the uncomfortable-ness of our own negligence, indifference, and white guilt.

The truth is, I have been living from the neck up, so focused on solving problems that I missed the opportunity to try to understand the pain of my black brothers and sisters. More to the point, I chose not to feel.

Daniel Goldman, the emotional intelligence pioneer, has said, “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels. These two fundamentally different ways of knowing interact to construct our mental life.”

So now I am in the messiness of my feeling mind. The pain is real but I also feel a strong love from seeing and connecting with so many people — people like you — who are also FEELING IT. I don’t want to rush out of this.

It’s our feelings — our heartbreak, our anger, our desires, our shared hope — that will catalyze our mind to create the solutions we need. Our swollen heads and egos have held the reigns of power for far too long; it’s our hearts that will drive us to a better world.

In her iconic civil rights song, I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to Be Free, Nina Simone sings:

Nina Simone
Photo Credit: Roland Godefroy/Wikimedia

I wish you could know what it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree that every man should be free
I wish I could give like I’m longing to give
I wish I could live like I’m longing to live
I wish I could do all the things I can do

If we skip this feeling stage, both the recognition and the expression of our own feelings — as well as being curious about our fellow human beings — we might as well put lipstick on a pig.

Actions without true, authentic empathy behind them will not eradicate the long-ingrained, systemic abuse of power built on the back of out-of-balance masculine energy and white privilege. So keep the connection, lean into the heartbreak, and find your purpose in this conversation. It’s not going away anytime soon. And we have mountains to move.

PS: If you are a woman of color and have something relevant to share with our Emerging Women audience, I invite you to reach out to us so we can get you scheduled for a spot on our platform. We could share the mic — or just give you the damn mic. Use us…please.

PSS: If you are a woman of color coach with corporate or executive experience, and you are looking for more work, please reach out so we can interview you for a Power Circle facilitator role in our ongoing corporate women’s leadership programs.

7 Women I Am Grateful for in 2019

I have to be honest: there are so many women I’m grateful for this year.

The Year of the Woman might have ‘officially’ been 1992, but each year, women continue to top themselves in the areas of grace, positivity, power, determination and leadership. This truly is an amazing time to be alive and be a woman. And I’m so thankful I get to exist at the same time as these seven powerhouses of feminine energy. They remind me that we can all get out there to make our own unique contribution toward changing what power looks like in the world – and we don’t have to do it alone!

#1 Lizzo

I am grateful for this first woman for so, so, so many reasons. From the giant inflatable booty that (almost) upstaged her at the MTV Video Music Awards to her fierce lyrics of self-celebration, this woman tops herself time after time in the body positivity category. Just when we think we can’t learn anything more from Lizzo about loving ourselves just the way we are, she wows us with the even louder, more powerful, message of “you got this.” And then she shows us how to OWN what we got. Bam.

She’s a vocal activist for women’s rights and radical self-acceptance. And she works hard – she famously began touring before she ever recorded an album. Talk about crashing through a glass ceiling. She destroyed it.

Oh, and she also plays the flute. Like a boss.

Flute drop.

Photo Credit: Andy Witchger/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

#2 RBG

You’ll find this OG femme fatale on the top slots of pretty much every ‘feminist and lovin’ it’ list.

(Yes, I just referred to Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a ‘femme fatale.’)

Media for women of all generations have paid homage to this supreme court justice who played a major role in creating equal opportunities for both sexes. Kate Mckinnon further cements her role as an icon for power, grace, and sheer “chutzpah” on SNL most weeks with her catchphrase, “You just got Gins-burned.”

This year, she’s been battling cancer for the fourth (fourth!) time, yet still works out every day. She has not missed a day! Her dedication and perseverance is legendary. Oh, and did I mention she’s barely taken off a day of work to recuperate? Instead, she’s been working from home and communicates via conference call when needed – still in the game, but on her own terms.

And I thank her almost every day for it.

Photo Credit: European University Institute/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

#3 Melinda Gates

Any fan of the Emerging Women blog knows we are a big fan of this powerhouse philanthropist and women’s equality activist striving to change the future of work in America. 


What I love the most about MG? Is that she seems to be evolving along with the movement. She is emerging right along-side all of the women she is inspiring to rise, showing us that we are all in this together. For reals.

What else do we love about Melinda Gates? Let me count the ways…

  1. She taught us how to raise feminist sons *chills*
  2. She led a feminist fight from the homefront by demanding equality with her husband in their relationship
  3. She reminds us that until all women around the world are free, none of us are free
  4. She’s brave enough to be vulnerable about her own toxic masculinity battles in the early days of Microsoft
  5. This year she committed $1 billion to help create equality in the workplace
  6. She committed $1 billion to help create equality in the workplace, which was so nice (and fierce and necessary), we had to say it twice!

Photo Credit: Chatham House, London/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

#4 Nancy Pelosi

Regardless of where you land politically, you can’t deny that Nancy Pelosi is one of the fiercest women in (and out of) politics right now — and has been for decades!

This woman is the epitome of class — and badass.

She knows when to speak up. And boy, when she speaks up, she demands attention. But what’s so special about her is that she knows when to stay silent, too. She gets that sometimes the biggest things happen when we create space – for others and for ourselves.

And while we all know age doesn’t matter, let’s take a moment to talk about her passion. She’s in her 80s (long after many of us will have retired), and she’s still vibrant, still so committed.

I am so grateful we have women with this kind of fire in our political system! More of this, please!

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

#5 Greta Thunberg

YOWZA! When I said “Age doesn’t matter,” this was the woman (not girl, because let’s be honest, she’s one of the most mature people in politics right now) I was talking about!

She’s done so much in her short life and even shorter career.

Greta has shown us what it means to be a leader: overcoming obstacles, standing up for others, speaking truth to power and demanding action.

The next time you’re feeling hesitant about leaning in, just consider Greta Thunberg your spirit animal, and ask yourself, “WWGTB do?” You’ll be moving mountains and people with your every word — and reshaping the world in the process.

Photo Credit: Anders Hellberg/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

#6 Michelle Obama

Former first lady, Michelle Obama, is another woman on this list who I admire for her elegance and dignity — especially for her lyrical use of the English language.

She emanates strength through each word. Her vulnerability jumps off the pages in her memoir, “Becoming.” She proved she really was the typical American working mom when she relayed stories of taking Malia on a job interview and ‘breaking out’ of the Whitehouse to celebrate the legalization of gay marriage (also with Malia).

And who can forget the strength that resonated in her speeches? Her catchphrase, “When they go low, we go high,” became an anthem for the power of positivity. It still serves to keep me out of complaining mode when I am faced with challenges!

Not to mention that line in her final commencement speech (that still floors me):

“It’s the story that I witness every single day when I wake up in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, black young women — head off to school, waving goodbye to their father, the President of the United States, the son of a man from Kenya who came here to American — to America for the same reasons as many of you: To get an education and improve his prospects in life.”

Chills.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Barack Obama Presidential Library

#7 Megan Rapinoe

Were you also glued to the TV coverage of the World Cup for women’s soccer this year? If so, you were likely like me: screaming your head off at the marvelousness of it all. High stakes, close games, excelling athleticism — all combined with the articulation of a vision much bigger than any one-made goal. And Megan Rapinoe at the head of it all.

Talk about equal pay triumph!

Her elegance in her speeches is only matched by her fierceness on the field. The woman is an inspiration and a symbol of heart-centered leadership and dependability.

I feel so fortunate that young girls and women can look to Megan to understand that you don’t need to sacrifice elegance for power, teamwork for individuality.

The women’s soccer teams work just as hard as the men’s team, it’s about time they got paid equally!

All of these women are clearing the path with a new power for a paradigm that emphasizes connection, grace, empathy and fire. They all draw this power from authenticity, consciousness and real connection — which also happens to be the Emerging Women ethos.

It’s difficult to forge a path ahead when you’re the only one holding that machete. Luckily, we all have these leaders to look to when we need a leg up to continue on our own brave path forward. We GOT this!

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Glass Ceilings, Glass Cliffs & Broken Rungs

broken rung

The words we use to describe the upward struggle of women in the workplace feel a little shaky. It’s no wonder that integrating gender diversity best practices has been an uphill battle — and women are still underrepresented at junior, mid and senior levels. Even when they’re diligently encouraged to, ‘lean in.’

The problem begins the first time a woman is passed over for a managerial promotion, otherwise known as the ‘broken rung.’ When few women become managers, even fewer can be promoted at a higher level.

According to LeanIn.org:

“Women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager: For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. Men hold 62 percent of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38 percent. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level. One-third of companies set gender representation targets for first-level manager roles, compared to 41 percent for senior levels of management.”

Women not getting promoted at the junior level is only one part of the problem. As you can see from the above statistics, stepping over that broken rung is just the first hurdle.

Mid-Level Attrition and the Glass Cliff

Once a woman makes it past the broken rung, she’s not out of the woods yet. While a managerial promotion gives someone a ‘head start’ to future promotions, it’s mid-level attrition that is the most difficult threshold guardian to pass — especially for women in tech.

Even when someone has been promoted at the junior level, the road through mid-level positions can still be disheartening. And no amount of ‘leaning in’ can help her.

Many women see their male counterparts promoted ahead of them. They’ve heard the ‘diversity hire’ whispers and caught accusing stares one too many times. They work harder to prove themselves. They hide personal information about their families for fear others might have false assumptions about their ‘availability.’

They’re accused of failing to ‘lean in’ to opportunities as they come.

And when the struggle feels like it has become too much to handle, they are offered a position that they haven’t been groomed for — one that is destined to fail; otherwise known as a glass cliff. Or, they are passed over altogether.

Luckily, the solution for mid-level attrition is the same as it is at the junior level: women-only mentorship Power Circles and sponsorship and promotion from superiors (both male and female).

How to Repair the Broken Rung

The two-pronged solution for repairing the broken rung, preventing mid-level attrition and avoiding glass cliffs is the same: sponsorship and promotion from superiors and peer mentorship circles.

Helping Women ‘Lean In’ on the Ladder

Women can only lean in so far. At some point, male allies and organizations need to meet them halfway. They can do this by offering women the same training, mentorship and sponsorship offered to their male counterparts — at all levels.

First and foremost, women need equal sponsorship and promotion from their superiors. But this is easier said than done.

Men subconsciously (and often consciously) receive sponsorship and promotion through superiors, colleagues and out-of-office organizations. These sponsors generally act as ‘talent managers,’ speaking on behalf of employees and making the social and network connections needed to claim future opportunities.

Women-only peer mentorship programs give participants the confidence and the advice they need to seek out, apply for and land promotions. When men apply for a promotion, they (on average) possess only 60 percent of the skills required; women won’t apply unless they have 100 percent.

Peer mentorship circles help women stay on track and encourage them to keep advancing upward.

Male Allies: An Important Piece of the Diversity Puzzle

When everyone has the tools they need to succeed in their jobs, it’s a win-win. Everyone benefits. Yet, we can’t move forward and fix something when many can’t even acknowledge there is a bias.

Male-only support circles can help male allies understand how to help their female counterparts. These types of circles can offer empathy and insight into the world of discrimination women face in the workplace.

The good news? Employing mentorship circles and superior sponsorships is just as effective as one-on-one mentorship, making this solution cost-effective.

In a study conducted with one Fortune 100 company, participants reported that after 25-to-30 hours of virtual meetings with their Power Circles and ‘check-in’ time with other circle members, in addition to being paired with a sponsor within the organization, we were able to reduce attrition rates by 49 percent, saving the company $1.25 million in recruiting costs per cohort of 30.

While we don’t expect things to change overnight, these initial results point to an approach that promises the advancement of women at exponential rates.

(1) The “broken rung” is the biggest obstacle women face, LeanIn.org – 2019 https://leanin.org/women-in-the-workplace-2019

(2) Leveraging the Power of We, Emerging Women – 2019 https://emergingwomen.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/r9-EW-003-White-Paper.pdf

(3) Sheryl Sandberg: The Gender Gap Isn’t Just Unfair, It’s Bad for Business
– 2019 https://www.wsj.com/articles/sheryl-sandberg-the-gender-gap-isnt-just-unfair-its-bad-for-business-11571112300

(4) Tara Sophia Mohr: Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified – 2014 https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified

The Radiant Leader: Authentic Leadership for Influence, Visibility and Fulfillment

As a former woman in technology, Emerging Women CEO Chantal Pierrat understands what it means to be “the only woman in the room.” When she was head of marketing and sales for an OEM product, she often found herself pitching mostly to men in white lab coats.

I know what it’s like to be underrepresented – both in terms of the business side but also on the tech and innovation side. And what that costs us in terms of the depth and the breadth of the solutions that are coming to the table.

Being that fly on the tech wall helped inform me of the challenges women face in the industry. Which is why when I was asked to speak at the Grace Hopper Celebration this year, I already had my topic: authentic leadership.

Why Is Authentic Leadership Important?

Both men and women must be themselves at work to be the best at what they do. But women are often viewed as a problem to be “fixed” for a “better fit” instead of a resource for a new paradigm for leadership.

When we are allowed to be our authentic selves, we radiate confidence and purpose. We come alive through our bodies. And this energetic power is the strongest differentiating quality in any leader.
But when we are pressured to fit in? We suffer from burnout, from fatigue. We don’t see the value in advancing our careers. And we rarely make it to the tech executive level.

The Problem in the Tech Industry: When Women Don’t Feel Valued

Mid-career is an especially challenging time for women. Most of us become discouraged from advancing onward when we:

  • Don’t see any evidence that our skills and contributions are recognized.
  • Cannot see a clear future path when so few women have forged those paths before us.
  • Are encouraged to spend our time fitting-in instead of innovating and streamlining products and services.
  • Suffer from low input, high burnout and lack of self-confidence.
  • Become isolated from those who would advocate for our success and advancement.
  • Have growing family commitments and are expected to “do it all” in order to “have it all.”

Mid-level burnout isn’t only a “tech problem” either. It spans across nearly all industries — from business to finance to farming.

The Solution: Connection-Based Radiant Leadership

Conscious, feminine leadership is changing the world for the better. But we still have a lot of work to do.
If we want to become our authentic selves in the office, we need to first believe we are worthy. Radiant leadership is all about the expression of love, confidence and happiness. But more importantly, the love, confidence and happiness we draw from within.

When we are whole, we are using our hearts, minds, bodies and souls in unison.
The result? Resilient women and men, working together to influence the world through a strong sense of purpose and making an impact on their industry.

When you are connected, you are:

  • Coming alive through your body.
  • Using intentional self-talk to override critical or negative thought patterns.
  • Visualizing your goals and creating your inner reality in the outer world.
  • Listening to your heart, checking in with your body and tuning into your intuition.
  • Following your highest truth (your purpose in life).
  • Connecting with yourself first and using storytelling to connect with others; it’s the specificity that makes all stories universal.
  • Changing hearts and minds with your charisma.

Case Study: HP

How do we know it works? This isn’t our first rodeo. When it comes to radiant leadership, we’re all for conversation — but we’re all in for more action.

In a collaborative partnership with HP delivering programming to 1,000 women (and men), we were able to measure the following in our participants :

  • Increased confidence
  • Higher instances of speaking up
  • More clarity of purpose
  • Reduced attrition
  • Recruitment savings
  • Increased engagement
  • Higher rates of advancement

When we support women, everyone enters a greater position of power. Everyone becomes free to innovate and create. We can all benefit from radiant leadership — on personal to societal levels.

How could radiant leadership change your industry? What could you build or streamline if you were fully supported? For more information, contact Emerging Women at [email protected].

Facebook Live Recap: Power Circles Change Lives

In case you missed it …things got real this morning on Facebook Live.

I am fired up by the power of connection and ready to leverage our Emerging Women collective to bring about big change in the world.

As I watch the current tension between the old school, isolationist patriarchy and the increasingly powerful paradigm of inclusion and compassion I know beyond any doubt which model will win in the end.

Mother Earth understands interdependence. It is not a weakness, it is a strength. It is what keeps our world alive. And it is what inspires me to connect women all over the world so that we may work together for a future where all of life can thrive.

This morning, I shared my intimate and personal story of the creation of Emerging Women:

Of feeling the cosmic feminine emerging … and the knowing that followed that I was meant to be a strong voice for this potent energy.

During that time, there was a group of women who had my back … at every stage.

Watch my Facebook Live Video:

 

My Power Circle wasn’t just a women’s circle with wine and lipstick (though that’s great, too!) Or a mastermind to get ahead (also fab)… but a real deal power posse of badass women. Who saw me. Kept me on track. Reminded me of what I had said that I really wanted … as I created something bigger than myself. 

Women are poised for a new leadership paradigm … but to go fast and to go farther, we must NOT do it alone.

To what end are we developing ourselves? Ladies, all this self-awareness is to prepare us to access the next stage of human development … which is to learn and grow through relationship. The WE-volution is coming! And people and companies who are savvy in the art of relationship will come out ON TOP. This is where Power Circles come in.

Your time is now … our incredible Power Circles are open again for a short time (just one more week!) Make the decision and say, “Yes!” to a future that burns brighter than what you can achieve by going it alone.

Power Circles are a unique opportunity to connect deeply with other women who are ready to make a leap in their lives or lean in to leadership more fully.

Together with a trained Emerging Women facilitator, you’ll meet regularly with a small group of women to be deeply supported as you explore new ideas, process challenges, and get real together about what it takes to be a woman leading in today’s world.

Apply today to get matched into the carefully curated Power Circle perfect for you. Registration closes on Sept. 19th, so don’t miss out!


Need to hear more about Power Circles before you apply?

Check out our video featuring women who know first hand how a Power Circle can catalyze transformation, open doors, and expand possibilities inside and out.

 

Again, be sure to apply by Sept 19th to be matched into your new network of unparalleled support, vision, and heart.

I am so excited to go on this journey with you!

Chantal Pierrat

Big love,

Chantal Pierrat | Founder, Emerging Women

 

 

Emerging Women Power Circles

How My Power Circle Changed My Life

Ladies … Let’s gather for a personal and intimate discussion on Facebook Live on Wednesday, September 12 2018 at 10:00 a.m. MT.

I want to share with you why I created Emerging Women in the first place … and the reasons that our individual and collective emergence is key to building a new future.

I will be diving deep on a personal story about how a group of honest, powerful, collaborative, authentic and amazing women absolutely transformed my life. These are stories we NEED right now as a new feminine leadership paradigm emerges.

Please join me: 10:00 a.m. MT on Facebook, right before our Emerging Women Member’s Only Circle Up at 11:00 a.m. MT on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

See you there!

Emerging Women Power Circles

Power Practice: Ignite Your Divine Spark

Do you want to ignite an intimate relationship with your divine essence and feminine intuition? 

Author Sera Beak says a simple meditative practice can be a powerful tool to ignite a deep connection to our “divine spark” or inner wisdom that will help guide every aspect of our lives including career, relationships, health and spirituality.

Sera says the “divine spark” goes by many names. It is your soul, your essence, your inner goddess/god – the center of your center. The you of you. Your distinct and sovereign divinity that is connected to all that is. The divine spark is your guidance and grace, your deepest knowing, and your toughest truth.

Sera says the divine spark’s love for you is unmatched by anyone or anything in the universe. When you ignite it, you don’t just believe, you know on every level of your being, and in every cell of your body, that you are the one you’ve been looking for. “When you ignite your divine spark … you finally come home.”

On today’s Power Practice recording, Sera leads us through a transformative meditation to ignite our divine intuition, warming us to the essence of ourselves, our intuition, our bodies, Mother Earth, and all that is.

 

Play Power Practice – Ignite Your Divine Spark:

 

Sera Beak finished graduate school at Harvard studying comparative world religion and rapidly gained traction as what The New York Times called “a new role-model” for her generation.

She was much in demand as a speaker, author, and teacher for young modern women who she felt had been left out of the world’s wisdom traditions. She left lucrative offers behind to pursue the work of her Soul.

She is the author of three books, the latest: Redvelations: A Soul’s Journey to Becoming Human.Sera has been a featured presenter at Emerging Women Live

Like what you’re hearing? Dive deeper with Sera Beak in our Emerging Women Podcast “Redvelations.”

Sera Beak Podcast Redvelations

Empathy: The Greatest Superpower of the Feminine

Sometimes I feel torn between wanting to disconnect from the media and turn away from the pain I feel from current events, while at the same time leaning into my increasing heart rate and palpable anger over the negative forces alive in our world. This past week was no different. And “leaning in” has won out — yet again.

As I, like many of you, learned that our government was taking children away from their parents at the border, I wanted to collapse and shut it all out. Instead, I was swept up by the collective outrage of so many people. Now I feel more alive than ever, with a renewed clarity of purpose and a hopefulness stemming from the undeniable power of our connected voices.

It’s easy to become despondent when we are alone and feeling alienated from the rest of the world. In fact, the patriarchy has traditionally drawn much of its power from separating people and creating strong divisive lines in areas of gender, race, economics and political ideas. This kind of bullying, top-down negative reinforcement, and abuse of power has been the norm in cultures where the masculine is out of balance with the feminine.

Now all of life is suffering. What we see happening with refugees seeking asylum at the border is a metaphor for our current global crisis: Humanity has become separate from our primary caregiver — our true Mother, the Earth herself. The aching in our hearts as we hear the cries of children reaching for their parents echo the pain of separation we feel for the loss of the Feminine on our planet. And we need Her; we cannot survive without Her.

Empathy is the greatest superpower of the Feminine. May we not be drained by the strength of our emotions, the depth of our compassion, and the lengths that we must travel to fight for Her rightful place in our world. Eve Ensler could not have said it better:

“I think what I’ve learned is that every time I say something I’m not supposed to say and every time I’m willing to look at something or feel something, there’s incredible freedom that comes — even if there’s sorrow attached to it. Even if there’s despair attached to it, even if there’s a responsibility attached to it, there’s enormous freedom. It’s a big question. How do we say Wake UP and make awakening a beautiful thing?” 

Lean in and feel; then speak up, vote, and gather with others. Connect with and love as many people as you can. Now is not a time to be stingy! It is the intimacy of our relationships that will remind us what we are fighting for.

It’s not going to be comfortable, it’s not going to be easy, and we are just at the beginning – but we have each other.

And we are, each of us, FIRED UP. Collectively? Unstoppable.

Big Love,

Chantal Pierrat | Founder, Emerging Women