Gutsy women break barriers. Gutsy women lead the way. Gutsy women speak out when others remain silent.
As I research the lives of women leaders who have earned the badge of being a change agent I have been curious about the down side of standing out from the crowd. I call it “the giraffe syndrome”. You know be careful about sticking your neck out, you never know what can happen.
When we step into our power it is not just one big fun parade. So often the down side is not discussed. And yet, without really taking time to see the whole picture many gutsy women second guess themselves and wonder if the risk has been worth it.
One example is Barbara Walters who was honored at an event at the Paley Center for Media in New York in celebration of International Women’s Day several weeks ago. Accenture hosted the celebration of Walter’s life and her new book “Audition”.
Walters has had an amazing career, and continues to do so daring the aging process to define her. She continues to be vibrant, curious, and inspiring.
So, it was with great interest that I paid attention to one theme that seemed to circle around and around, the concept of guilt. It is one that most women have an intimate relationship with. It is harder for us to compartmentalize emotions and thus we worry about how our behavior impacts family, friends, community and with the worry comes self-doubt.
There is, as Walters suggested, a tricky balance between work and family. The major aspect of guilt that goes with gutsy is when you have to decide where to put your energies. Too much focus on family and work suffers; the opposite pressure to make work the priority and family suffers.
This is an age old dilemma and Walters put it succinctly when she said “Just do not expect balance.”
So, here is the discussion for the gutsy women standing on the shoulders of the pioneers, like Walters, who paved the way. Here is our home-work assignment: how do we redefine what we do for the care and nurturing of the family as we also redefine the place of career in our lives?
This is a critical question that has yet to be answered. As I research for my book “GUTSY: How Women Leaders Make Change” I am clear that it cannot be more or less of the same. We really need a major paradigm shift in the way we see our place along with our men.
It really is about a new way of partnering. Then we can say goodbye to guilt.