Post by Karen Wright, contributing Women On Business writer
This is the conclusion of a 2-part series entitled “The True Meaning of Equality” by Karen Wright. Follow the link to read Part 1.
Women have the intelligence, the wisdom, and the desire to help guide our world into greater stability. It’s in our nature to weigh short-term wins with long-term wellness and to build community from diversity. We are natural nurturers who understand that only wholeness will create sustainable life. We complement male power with compassion and progress with consistency.
Women are natural creators. We inspire life. We grow things. We think out of time, weaving yesterday, today, and tomorrow seamlessly. We seek balance – and today’s world needs balance from leaders who can create, not just destroy; leaders who bring people together, not divide and conquer.
Taijitu, the Chinese symbol of wholeness, represents an ancient understanding of the balance of life. The outer circle represents the whole of life and the black (yin) and white (yang) shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two balancing aspects of masculine and feminine strengths. Each shape contains an element or seed of the other, and they cannot exist without each other. The dual concepts of yin and yang describe two primal opposing, but complementary, qualities that bring harmony when balanced or chaos when imbalanced.
The abundance of male leadership has the potential of causing severe imbalance in the world, but the distinctive absence of well-balanced female leadership contributes as much to the disparity. Notice I said “well-balanced” female leadership. A woman may possess masculine strengths of forthrightness and authority, but without the balancing feminine qualities of consideration and compassion, she too can become a destructive force. It is equally true that the feminine strength of compassion, without a balancing masculine courage, would lead to a similarly undesirable state of near stagnation. One aspect of a balancing system is no more important than the other. Both are needed for harmony to exist.
Women are challenged today to discover how to bring their unique and much-needed wisdom to a world that seems to favor dominance over integration. The soft skills we’re gifted with have traditionally been considered undesirable, too personal, and not suited for business. Women quickly found that to gain respect in the arena of business they had to toughen up and play as men in a man’s game. We wore bland man-cut suits and little bow ties. We carried masculine briefcases and left our smiles at home. To be taken seriously we had to play hardball and essentially stop being women.
Many women found this sham to be exhausting. Ironically, it also stripped them of the very characteristics that companies needed most. It was a zero-sum game, and the women who were successful their careers almost uniformly lost themselves in the process. Other women simply abandoned the charade and settled into female-friendly positions that required less hypocrisy.
As women challenging the status quo, we’ve often been susceptible to the idea that we don’t measure up. We weren’t smart enough, or brave enough. Even for women in executive positions, beneath the veneer of professional confidence often lurked a well-hidden feeling of inadequacy. In nurturing and giving to family and community, women learned little by little to discount our own strengths and forget our own desires, until eventually they simply faded. And we didn’t complain much. After all, being a wife, mother, dutiful daughter or caregiver seemed far more worthy than any personal dream of self-realization. We had duties and obligations.
After the obligations were met, and those we cared for moved on, we woke up and wondered “where to from here?” With that opening, the dream came flooding back; a dream of who we could be and what we could still do to leave our mark on the world. The dream was faint to the ear, but thunderous to the soul.
Perhaps it’s midlife, but maybe it’s more. Women everywhere are awakening to latent urges to make a difference, and today’s climate seems ripe for them. Women are talking more openly about what they’ve always dreamed of creating. Some want to paint, some want to travel. Others feel compelled to transform their community, country or world. For some women, this urge is like a gift they can’t have. They long to reach for it, but have grown to believe their doubts more than their dreams. Having made a life out of putting themselves last, they seem apprehensive about stepping to the front of the line.
In breathing life into our compelling desires to contribute to the world, we must realize that our dreams are more than just personal whimsy. The talents, abilities and passions that stir our souls belong to humanity. It is our right, but also our responsibility, to become the person this world needs us to be; to make the difference we came here to make. We are the equalizing force that can bring greater balance to our world. Yin and yang. Equal, distinct, compatible.
After centuries of imbalance and increasing pain, women are, perhaps for the first time in history, living in a world ready to understand and accept the abilities with which we are uniquely enabled. Will we shed our layers of learned helplessness and self-doubt? Will we believe in ourselves, our innate power, and our destiny to bring new perspectives and answers to the myriad of problems we face?
More and more, humanity is seeking new answers to old problems. We cannot continue to make the same restrictive and often destructive choices. As Albert Einstein brilliantly warned, “we cannot solve our problems with the same mind that created them.” As women, we are half of the equation – half of the problem and half of the answer. We are not here to replace, displace, or overpower men, or each other. We are here as co-creators.
Women of the world, it is time to put away our doubts and uncertainties. No one is better equipped than us to make a difference. The world longs for us to listen to the calling in our heart and give the gifts we are here to give. Today is our day. We can do something spectacular!