Wonder Women: Lean In, Lean Out, Toughen Up, Soften Up, Be Your Best or Just Be?

1_Vg29e31Y0sLrFnAGZs-qLg.jpg

My coaching is focused predominantly on women. I coach high-potential, creative women in multicultural environments that have a special spark in them that hasn’t been fully nurtured yet. Maybe they know their spark well, maybe they don’t, but they feel it bubbling under their skin like spaghetti sauce at a slow simmer. They feel its presence, can smell its aroma, but they haven’t plated it, tasted it and shared it with the world yet. And they know that if they don’t start facing, listening, and stoking that spark with the nourishment that it longs for they will regret it forever. And who wants to die with those kinds of regrets?

I don’t want it for me and I don’t want it for other women.

That’s why I coach.

I realize how intense and confusing the messaging is for women these days.

There’s so much attention on the modern women and her potential. According to everything you read these days, women are poised to take over the universe, but how? Are we supposed to lean all the way in à la Sheryl and claim our seat on the executive board? Are we supposed to lean out of the traditional rat race and create alternative communities that, by design, put our needs first? Are we supposed to work hard to quiet our inner demons, slice them out of our minds as the limiting social and cultural constructs that they are? Or embrace ourselves fully and just be who we are, warts, demons, doubts and all?

I don’t have the answer to these questions. But this is what I do believe about how to approach the three major themes important to today’s woman: identity, vocation and success.

Identity

Personal development is your life’s work, your masterpiece. Invest in it however you can.

You don’t have to change who you are, but you don’t have to be the person that you’ve always been.

Be curious about the beliefs, systems and habits that no longer serve you. Examine them like an incessant child would with a million whys. Knowing them intimately will help them fade away.

Vocation

You are a national living treasure. What makes you truly special? When you can identify that you’ll know what needs to be nurtured most.

You have already done extraordinary things. How did you do them? What was the fuel that kept you focused and fired up?

When are you in the zone? What’s preventing you from being in it more often?

Success

Comparison sucks. If there was no model for success what would yours look like? How would it feel? What would you be doing and saying to yourself each day?

What are the things that you refuse to compromise at all costs? These are your values. Embrace them. When opportunities arise that undermine them, investigate.

Project yourself 5 years into the future and think about your birthday party. Who is there? What are they saying about you? What are you saying to yourself on this day that celebrates all that you’ve done and become since birth?

Is this leaning in or out, going hard or strong? I have no idea. But my belief is that good work doesn’t have to be hard when one’s identity, vocation and definition of success are aligned.