women’s liberation?

Watch out, I’m about to drop the dirty ‘F’ bomb . . . Feminism.

I recently finished an insightful book by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, titled “Lean In. Women, work and the will to lead.” I couldn’t put it down.

Below are some of the shocking statistics that were revealed – try to read them without dropping your jaw:

  • There are 4.4 million women and girls worldwide still trapped in the sex trade.
  • 30 years after women became 50% of the college graduates in the USA, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry.
  • Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. ie/ When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.
  • Women still do the vast majority of childcare. As a result, becoming a parent decreases workforce participation for women but not men. 43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers.
  • When a husband and wife both are employed full-time, the mother does 40% more child care and about 30% more housework than the father.
  • Gender bias influences how we view performance and typically raises our assessment of men, while lowering our assessment of women.

Let that soak in for a minute. . . Scary huh.

How have we come so far since the women’s rights movement, yet still be so far behind true equality?

I guess I was surprised by these statistics as I have always had strong female role models in my life. I was bought up to believe that I could achieve anything my heart desired, that nothing was out of my reach. My mother worked full-time in law for 30 years, my Nana is independent and determined, I have always had female managers and department heads, plus I have worked in female dominated industries my whole life. Working with lululemon, I am continually surrounded by inspiring, entrepreneurial women who stand for each other’s greatness. So for me, becoming privy to these facts was a major wake up call to the true state of affairs.

The word feminism has received a bad wrap over the years, and now has such a negative connotation. It’s a shame that this term has been muddied and taken away from its true meaning. Feminism needn’t equate to man-hating, bra-burning lesbians anymore.  It’s all about deconstructing and ‘dusting off’ this world to re-define it; a recent study revealed that only 24% of the women in the United States say that they consider themselves feminists. Yet when offered a more specific definition of feminism – “A feminist is someone who believes in social, political, and economic equality of the sexes” – the percentage rises to 65%. Hallelujah, that’s a step in the right direction.

“When the suffragette’s marched in the streets, they envisioned a world where men and women would be truly equal. A century later, we are still squinting, trying to bring that vision into focus.”

– Sheryl Sandberg

10.jpg.CROP_.article920-large   1911-suffragettes

“Women have been subtly striving all our lives to prove that we have picked up the torch that feminism provided. That we haven’t failed the mothers and grandmothers that made our ambitions possible. And yet, in a deep and profound way, we are failing. Because feminism wasn’t supposed to make us feel guilty, or prod us into constant competition over who is raising children better, organising more co-operative marriage, or getting less sleep. It was supposed to make us free – to give us not only choices but the ability to make these choices without constantly feeling that we’d somehow gotten it wrong” – Debora Spar.

So then, how and why has our progress stopped?

Beyoncé says women run the world, however the blunt truth is that it is men. “Out of 195 independent countries in the world, just 17 are led by women. Women hold only 20% of seats in parliaments globally. A meager 21 of the Fortune 500 CEO’s are women. Women hold about 14% of executive positions, 17% of board seats, and constitute 18% of our elected congressional officials. (The gap is even worse for women of colour, who hold just 4%, 3% and 5% respectively.)”

“This means that when it comes to making the decisions that most affect our world, women’s voices are not heard equally.”

Sandberg explains that it is not only society that is holding women back, we are also holding ourselves back – “In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within our selves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back (from our career) when we should be leaning in. We internalise the negative messages we get throughout our lives – the messages that say its wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our expectations of what we can achieve.”

Communication is the key to change, “We need to disrupt the status quo. Staying quiet and fitting in may have been all the first generations of women could do; in some cases, it might still be the safest path. But this strategy is not paying off for women as a group. Instead, we need to speak out, identify the barriers that are holding women back, and find solutions.”

“Talking can transform minds, which can transform behaviours, which can transform institutions.”

The majority of people I coach are women, so this research has really opened up my eyes to how much more support, encouragement and outright cheer-leading the women of today need. It’s time to amp up this conversation, and for us to champion and promote our fellow women.

As a life coach, I don’t necessarily have power to change our cultural and institutional inequality; the sex trade, the stereo types, gender biases, salary differences, unequal child care policies – but I do get to have a big impact on individuals; the way they see themselves and their place in the world.

My job, more than ever, is about empowering women to live a life they love – to clear self-limiting beliefs, to encourage them to dream big, to jump onto the playing field and achieve their full potential.

I love that Sandberg isn’t advocating that every woman should want to be head of state, or a CEO, but rather – whatever our goals are, to pursue them with gusto. To fulfil our potential.

We all are the hope for an equal world. It begins with finding something you love and doing it with all your heart.

Ask yourself, what would i do if I weren’t afraid? And then go do it.

So am I a feminist? You’re damn right I am.

Social gains are never handed out.

They must be seized.

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Click here to view Sandberg’s inspiring TEDTalk on “Why we have too few women’s leaders”. 

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ditch plan B

“Ditch plan B. Go all in on plan A, plan B is a distraction from your dreams. When you go in all in on plan A, not only will plan A happen, it will be better, because what the divine has in store for you is so much greater than you could possibly imagine, and it’s mot going to look anything like what you want. Please ditch plan B. That would be my only advice”     – Mastin Kipp, The Daily Love.

WOW.

This statement has literally just stopped me dead in my tracks.

I was just about to curl up in bed, but instead I’m now writing to you in response to reading this.

I have always had a plan B. I have never imagined my life without a plan B. I never even thought for a second that having a plan B could be a negative thing! (That’s the planner in me, I like to have an element of control).

Could having another option to fall back on actually be an enormous distraction from my true dreams?

My dream is to grow my business, coaching people on how to live a life they love. I want to continue my one on one coaching sessions, and also expand out into group workshops, business development days, youth workshops, programs for the underprivileged, school and university sessions and more!

My vision is to create a ripple effect of people who are actively creating their lives, authoring their own destiny, doing what lights them up and makes their heart sing. (Not being a passive observer of their life that hopes for the best and then gets disappointed with the result).

People who are willing to do the work to authentically define who they are and what they want. And then have the courage to go out and make it happen, to bring their dreams to life. I encourage people to live from a place of possibility. To step outside the self-imposed restraints, and consider – what if anything was possible?

My 10 year BHAG (big, scary, audacious goal) is to have a vision and goals program on the curriculum of Australian primary and secondary schools. Yup, it certainly is big.

I want to make a difference in the world.

That is my plan A.

Plan B on the other hand puts this dream on hold.

Plan B belittles me and tells me I’m not yet ready for that yet, that I should continue my day job and slowly, very slowly, build towards plan A. The practical, logical (probably fearful) voice in my head tells me that is the right thing to do.

Hmmm . . .  that seemed like a good idea up until 10 minutes ago.

Now I’ve hit the pause button. I’m forced to reassess, and to review my thought process. Isn’t it amazing the power inspiring words can have on us?

The questions I am now pondering:

  • What if went all out and put everything I had into plan A?
  • What if i backed my dreams with the same encouragement, positivity and certainty that I back other people’s dreams?
  • What would be possible for me then?

** Note to self – I NEED TO BE MY OWN CHEER LEADER.

I’m not proclaiming we should all quit our day jobs tomorrow and blindly chase our dreams. However, check in with yourself – do you have some big aspirations, lofty dreams that you keep putting off? Waiting for that perfect moment, the perfect time – when everything in your life is aligned, then and only then, can you can finally pursue those dreams?

Why do we impose these restricting guidelines on ourselves?

If that is what we truly desire, why would we put it off? Why are we choosing to restrain our velocity –  to walk when really we could run?

Perhaps it’s time to bring some of those big goals forward . . .

Maybe it’s time to ditch Plan B.

waittillready

live your passion

The following quote jumped off the page of a book I read recently –

“Live your passion. What does that mean anyway? It means that when you get up in the morning, you are pumped because you get to talk about or work with or do the thing that interests you the most in the world. You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing – working, playing, and relaxing are one and the same. You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work. You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

What are your passions?

Are you living them?

If not, what is holding you back?

Your are made up of a unique set of passions, things that speak to your soul and light you up.  Your passions make you feel truly alive, and self-expressed. You are your best version of yourself when living them.

What would your life look like if you chose to harness these passions? What if you actually got paid to do what you love? What kind of personal power and freedom would be possible for you?

Some people have the archaic belief that they will never make any money doing what they love, but in today’s world this has never been further from the truth. People all over the world today are earning a living doing exactly that. With the rise of the information society, and social media people can now monetize their passions, hobbies, and interests like never before. We spend the majority of our lives at work, why not spend it doing what you love most?

My Dad always told me ‘do what makes you happy, and you’ll be great at it’. This is something that has always resonated with me.

Do what you love. Follow your heart. Success will follow.

It’s as simple as that.

You owe it to yourself, life is too short not too.

Follow-Your-Heart-Sign

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