Women’s Leadership: Our Worlds, Our Questions

Omega Women’s Leadership Intensive September 2013

Who are we?

Empty nesters; mothers; Wellness practitioner, inventor; Quality Assurance Supervisor for a large Biotechnolgy firm; passionate about developing people; Masters in Mental Health Counseling; Women’s health Nurse Practitioner; Vice President at a small educational assessment/evaluation company; mid-life; married; teacher; daughter, granddaughter, sister and friend “with a life full of all the chaos and wonder that follows those relationships”; department head at a global asset management company; Registered dietitian and licensed clinical social worker; professional vocalist in the United States Army Band; children’s minister in an Episcopal church; at a turning-point; single; financially independent; Executive Media Director for Geometry Global an advertising agency; foster dog mom; graphic designer at an Engineering company; musician, songwriter, instrumentalist, dancer and video artist; Director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union; professor, author, poet, owner of insurance agency, life coach; board member; Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Creative Group; student of life; yoga teacher; fundraiser; Dean of The School of Entrepreneurship at Endicott College; President of local Rotary Club; performer

What are our most compelling leadership concerns and questions?

-How to interact with people in positions of power that are stuck in their ego and not truly wanting to hear what you have to say.

-I feel like an imposter – “who am I to think I can lead?”  I need help figuring out how to move beyond this so that I can share my talents and expertise.

-I am constantly challenged to find (and stay true to) my voice as a leader amongst the other the leaders in my organization who are all older males and tend to lead and manage through ego.

-Concerns include stepping out, being seen, playing small. Currently working through finding my way to be open enough to connect with people on a deeper level; helping them work through their own fears and discomfort, and the recognition that I need to face my own as well.

– I am wondering what I do that inadvertently diminishes those around me.  Where are my blind spots?  How can I provide leadership in a way that helps others to find their own solutions? What are the unknown fears that I have that keep me from doing what I am called to do?

-In my business collaborations with others, tending to my own needs while also honoring others’ needs is not always easy.

-My livelihood currently depends on the successful navigation of a culture that is traditionally hyper-masculine and often lacks awareness for the experiences of women. The Army needs change and strong women to guide that change. But can an organization that exists to engage in conflict be, for me, a place in which compassion and creativity are honored? Is there any hope that an organization like the US Army could become a training ground for peace-loving ambassadors? If yes, how does this low-ranking enlisted musician create that kind of change? Or, is it time to plant seeds elsewhere?

– How to be more confident and firm in my beliefs so that I speak up and find my voice versus being intimidated?  How do I effectively use my power and spend less time caring what others think of me and my decisions?

-My concern is a popular tendency to view men and women as innately different with respect to attitudes and behaviors. Women innately know how to love while men innately know how to lead (and other widely accepted feminine vs. masculine traits). How can we ever objectively determine how much of this behavior is learned rather than innate when the very tools we use to make the determination (such as the language we use to think and speak) are already steeped in the patriarchy that created this dichotomy? By supporting this idea of innate qualities based on a fetus’s sex, I fear that we are doing each other a terrible disservice: stunting man’s right and capacity to experience and express love from infancy and woman’s right and capacity to develop to her fullest, her mind, body, and spirit. I believe that we, as women, have so much to offer in constructing a new power paradigm because we know better than men what it’s like to be excluded, abject, invisible. As a result, we have a wider range of experiences from which to draw our skills and our vision.

-How do I stay true to the work and people for which I am responsible while answering the call of others beyond my department? How do I honor my values and be open to the perspectives and values of others?  How do I bring “me” to my job every day.

-How do I grow my self esteem and confidence to help me handle the challenges that come with being a leader, including fear of being alone and rejected?

-What does being a leader have to do with having a parter and being in an intimate relationship?

-I worry that I often push them to take on more than they can easily handle and that we all work harder and many more hours than may be healthy for the long-term.

-Developing methods/techniques for holding people accountable.

-What are some practices that can help me discover and become more fully in touch with my own feminine power?

Do you currently have any mind/body/spirit practices such as meditation or yoga? 

-Svroopa yoga daily and meditation daily. As well as Advanced Integrative Therapy (AIT formerly Seemorg Matrix work) sessions weekly with routine homework.

-I practice yin yoga twice weekly and do walking or seated meditations daily.  I also listen to and practice the teachings of Eckhart Tolle.

-I practice yoga regularly (3-5 times per week) and teach one yoga class a week as well.

-Juicing, journaling, prayer, walking meditation, body flow.

-I practice different types of meditation for the relief of anxiety and unease. Singing meditation. I sometimes write my own mantras and chants that speak to the needs of the particular situation I’m entering. When I’m experiencing feelings of shame, I find guided meditations and deep breathing to be soothing and centering. I occasionally practice yoga.

-I use a deck of oracle cards first thing in the morning to bring myself into the day, and mediate along with Susan Piver’s open heart project blog two or three times a week.  My exercise is mostly gym work two or three times a week, but I find all these things contribute to helping me be whole and present in my body, as I’m extremely prone to living in my head.

-Consistenty I do a morning routine of stretching, tai chi and some yoga postures as well as breathing.  I love to fit in meditation.

-I started doing yoga about 3 years ago and it has become an important part of my life. I’ve always engaged in a certain type of meditation, which for me takes the form of “just being”. I enter into this state in several ways. At church as a child (I was raised Catholic) I would attempt to count the massive organ pipes, which was a surefire way to produce that soft, blurred stare that then begins to turn inward. Or I find myself repeating a phrase (often nonsensical) over and over and then realize I missed my stop again on the metro because I had lost track of time and space. Or I focus on an object and allow it to draw me out of myself and into it (although I tend to use this at times when I’m afraid and feel the need to “not be”). Or I sit outside in a natural setting and simply become a part of it. I also find great joy and even a boost in confidence from Zumba, dance exercise.

-I meditate pretty regularly and have cultivated a yoga practice on and off for the past 10 years.

-I practice meditation a few times a week and take dance classes which contain some yoga.

-I plan to create a weekly schedule of yoga and bodywork with a personal trainer this fall.  I also engage in yoga, meditation and self-massage at home in Brooklyn.

-I have an active yoga practice. I am also an Intuitive Tools student of Gayle Myers, M.D. and am beginning a clairvoyant class in November.

-I love to do yoga, meditate, dance, pray, walk and talk with the trees, do qi gong, reflect, swim, bask in nature.

-I have had a committed mindfulness practice for over eighteen months, and have been practicing metta as taught by Sharon Salzberg for the past 9 months.  I came to this practice through Dr’s. Marsha Linehan, Blaise Aguirre and Gillian Galen.  I am a patient of Dr. Galen’s and do Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) with her.  She introduced mindfulness and yoga as part of my treatment.  I can honestly say that my daily mindfulness practice has literally changed and saved my life!

What drew you to the Leadership Intensive?

-I want learn from and be part of a new Feminine power.

-In the midst of my own transition, I asked for support and guidance and this class showed up for me. It spoke to the place I was in and provided the right focus for my thoughts. There are a lot of endings in my life right now, together with all of the feeling and emotion that accompany deep loss. And yet, in the midst of this, creativity, birthing, and opportunity are present as well. I want to be clear on my intentions with what is being created, but also open to surrendering, honoring, and releasing what needs to go.

-I thirst for resources that will help me connect to my gifts and that will give me new ideas for how to lead others.

-I work in an organization that has been led by men for 40+ years and women are rising in leadership roles for the first time.  How to blend the masculine and feminine in our workplace is a current struggle and I hope to learn how to have an impact using “power with.”

-A growing sense of frustration at gender issues, exacerbated by living in a small place with more ingrained sexism than I’d expected.

-To help develop a stronger voice for myself. I can engage productively in one-on-one conversations, but once I am in a group setting I lose confidence in my ability to speak at all. It’s possible these two goals may contradict each other (being so stressed in a group setting that I am immune to the positive energy surrounding me, and thus unable to profit by it), but I hope I will (dare to) discover otherwise.

-I am interested in expanding my management and leadership skills and doing so in a way that balances my interests in mind-body-spirit with my work life.

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