This story is part of the Fearless Footprint Story Tour, a virtual "tour" where 7 women leaders are posting over the course of 7 days about the experiences in which they started to live with meaning, lead fearlessly, and be who they were created to be! Check out the full story tour line up here.
The idea of "feminine leadership" can certainly be a confusing (and maybe counter-intuitive) concept.
But for me, nothing is more enlivening, thrilling, or fascinating to discuss, practice, and deepen into in my own life and in my business.
When we truly own our power and pleasure, align with our soul path, and understand our divine gifts as women, and how to use them to our greatest advantage in every area of our lives in the 21st century landscape, so many things that have felt like insurmountable struggles in the past self-correct.
It's kind of like magic... or, at least, that's how it FEELS.
It's actually a deep, beautiful, and devoted practice every single day to fully embody all aspects and the 360 degree expression of who you are when you're being your most authentic, real, and whole self.
It's about owning the power you possess as a woman as an innate healer, nurturer, creator, connector, visionary, devoted light-worker in order to create change and "success" in your life, and create massive impact in the world around you by doing your own inner work and pursuing your greatest aliveness and fullest expression of self.
Because doing this for YOURSELF changes the way you show up. And the way you show up influences others on an energetic, instantaneous, and soul-level.
Your presence is freakin' powerful, and if you take one thing away from reading this story, I hope it's this empowering concept.
[For example, check out my SnapChat story HERE for what a day in my life looks like NOW, after discovering and embodying a new paradigm of leadership as a soulful woman on a mission in our modern-day society + culture.]
It hasn't always looked this way for me. Obviously!
I recently came across this AMAZING diagram of the Heroine's journey (the feminine counterpart to the hero's journey that operates in a cycle, as do all things feminine):
I'm obsessively in love with this graphic, because it really resonates with my personal transformation into more soulful feminine leadership. But this isn't just MY path and process -- it's ALL women's path when deciding to become leaders in our society today.
STEP 1: BORN INTO THE PATRIARCHY/SEPARATION FROM THE FEMININE
Growing up, I was taught that the traits that were valuable to possess were intelligence and non-emotionality. I was taught that I should always be "busy" and that this is what would make me successful. I was told not to cry or act "like a baby." I was encouraged to think through problems and do research to find answers outside of myself, instead of consulting my inner wisdom or intuition. I was encouraged to sing, dance, and play... but things were also very serious for me growing up between my mom and my dad's homes, and I always wanted to make people happy. So I pushed away the hard feelings, and became tough.
STEP 2: SUCCESS AS A GOOD GIRL
When I look back at who I used to be in school (elementary through college), and even in my first "real" job, it's kind of crazy. The people-pleasing, over-involvement, and urge to fill up time and space in my schedule and life made it so that I was never truly alone int he company of myself. I did all of these things to feel important and valued by peers, teachers, family, etc. I wanted to be "impressive" -- and I succeeded at that. I had lots of accolades to boast about (and for my parents to brag about to their friends), but it didn't really FEEL that important or like true "success" -- it felt kind of empty.
I graduated a year early from college, published research, worked with a mentor and fell in love with the fields of Positive Psychology, Marketing, and Sustainable Food Systems.
STEP 3: INNER DISSONANCE
When I was working in my first job after graduating early from college at a local sustainable living magazine, I pushed myself and achieved "success" in my work. Once I felt like I had mastered one part, I'd invent another role for myself -- event planner quickly became an unofficial job title there for me, which I found lots of joy in. Even though my job had a lot of perks, like great connections in the city of Pittsburgh, working with small passionate business owners to help them market and grow their businesses, and attending fun events where I had VIP access and got to get all fancy and dressed up, I quickly realized that once I had reached the proverbial ceiling in the office that this wasn't the work that would light my soul on fire for the rest of my life. I knew there had to be something more, and so I started coming back to Positive Psychology, and specifically coaching programs. I knew I wanted to start my own business, so I had looked at other business training programs like B School, and landed upon Mentor Masterclass, which just felt so in alignment and right to me at the time.
Once I began training and learning, and being supported by a mentor and sisterhood of other like-hearted women, I was hooked. I spent my weekends and evenings pouring myself into my studies, learning as much as I could.
STEP 4: AWAKENING TO FEELINGS OF SPIRITUAL LONGING
Soon, it didn't make sense in my mind and heart to work for someone else's dream all week long instead of my own. There was so much frustration and resentment toward the present moment and what it meant to be in my full-time job instead of pursuing my dream full-time.
I knew I could create so much more impact if I were to be of higher service as a coach, supporting and inspiring women to follow their dreams and authentic expressions of self. I knew that if I could wake more people up to the truth of their existence and help to empower them to become the leaders of their lives so that they could create more of an impact in our world, that there would be an outpouring of love and light and that this would create a huge ripple effect.
I knew that there was a bigger contribution I was meant to make, and that more freedom, fulfillment, and flow awaited me on the other side of having the tough conversation to leave my full-time job and go all-in on my coaching business with one client, a lot of faith, and no official plans for how to make it work.
STEP 5: INITIATION (DESCENT TO THE GODDESS)
I set a date to leave my full-time job. I resolved that I would leave on December 30th, which would provide a few extra paychecks and I'd be able to survive for a few more weeks, then pick up some side work and maybe a new client and be okay. At the time, I had very minimal expenses which I am now soooo grateful for.
Once I set this intention, I started receiving windfalls of opportunities that I would have never known to inquire about. One of my friends had asked me to partner with her organic skincare line for some blogging and extra marketing. Another had sent me an e-mail to invite me to be part of a select group of 5 hand-picked experts to create content and be featured as part of a new online portal for women to create more successful lives and businesses. I had new client inquiries coming in more frequently than ever.
Because of all the social media attention I was receiving and sharing about, my bosses came to visit me and ask me what was going on -- was I leaving my job? They essentially asked for my presence -- If I was going to be there, I was going to be there. If not, I should go pursue my dream.
At first, it felt like I was being reprimanded. But I soon realized the opportunity I was being gifted, and it was as if the conversation I was dreading and unsure how to initiate had landed in my lap. I took a few hours, and realized that there was no better time than right now to tell them I was leaving, and to leave a little earlier than I had originally planned (about 2 weeks before the date I had set).
The conversation was still difficult -- I was so uncertain and afraid in that moment of what was to come, and the challenges that come along with running a business and being responsible for creating my own income. No more safety net where I could just show up, do my work, and go home, knowing with 100% certainty that I would get paid a certain amount every 2 weeks. I sat in my boss's office and cried as I told him I thought it was time for me to leave. It felt like a really big deal, and hugely vulnerable. Maybe a little "unprofessional," but it was real for me in that moment. It was a release of the old to create space for the new.
STEP 6: YEARNING TO RECONNECT TO THE FEMININE
After leaving my job and beginning to work from home, I tried to fill up all my time with work on my business so that I felt like I was doing enough and putting in the hustle to reap the rewards I desperately needed to survive and make ends meet and so that I didn't feel "lazy."
I piled on responsibilities, deadlines, writing submissions, to-do lists, meetings, free webinars from mentors I admired, and was pushing so hard. My boyfriend at the time was amazing at reminding me (gently) that I didn't leave my job to have the same stressful lifestyle -- I had left to have the time to enjoy my life more, not just fill it up with more work. To be more present, have more space, enjoy the beauty of life's little moments with my puppy and loved ones, go to yoga classes, and really deeply connect with myself.
Even though I had been in Mentor Masterclass for almost a full year at this point, with a sisterhood of women and a through-line of a feminine approach to business and success, it didn't click until that moment. I needed to get my energies into balance -- to create space to just be, to do nothing, and to surrender and receive fully. To get tuned in and turned on, instead of rushing through focused on creating some kind of result that I was attached to.
STEP 7: HEALING THE WOUNDED MASCULINE
In my attempt to cultivate more feminine energy in my life and business, I did what we always do when first making a change and realizing some way of being no longer serves us: I went to the extreme. This looked like no deadlines, no set schedule, no pushing, and plentiful Netflix binges. I was completely rejecting the masculine, labeling it bad, negative, and out of alignment with who I was supposed to be. In my exploration and reclaiming of the feminine, I shut out the masculine and lost structure which felt like my energy was a crazy flood of water without a river bank to contain it so that it could flow freely and magically, and be incredibly useful and beautiful.
I began delving into tons of research into what feminine/masculine energy was, what it looked like (specifically in relationships, but also in business), and really learning to honor and appreciate the masculine bits.
STEP 8: INTEGRATION OF THE FEMININE + MASCULINE (FINDING WHOLENESS)
I came to an understanding that as a woman in the 21st century, I can run a business, live, love, and lead mostly from my feminine essence, but that this doesn't mean that there is no place for the masculine. In order to actually move things forward, we need a little bit of that "push" energy and structure.
Bringing this back into balance meant really learning to understand WHEN in my monthly cycle I was primed for certain kinds of energy, which brought along with it a certain rhythm of tasks and objectives I could add into my business, in keeping with my natural cycles of energy. It meant knowing when I needed to surrender, let go, and trust, and when it was time to push.
I understood more deeply the feminine cycle of creation (think: 9 months to create a human life, with 3 trimesters, each of which are meant to direct your energies in certain ways and you don't actually push until the very end). This cycle of creation for us as women is what I now use as part of my method for creating transformations with women in my private coaching practice where I guide and support women to design their own model of success + implement soulful feminine leadership principles and strategies into their lives + businesses so that they can be more powerful and impactful, while living, loving, and leading with devotion to a world-changing mission.
This cycle of the heroine's journey is something that repeats itself again and again, as we recognize our own divinity and power, rise into leadership and influencing others and the world at large, and up-leveling every area of our lives. It's a circle that never ends -- it just deepens, and becomes easier to navigate when we understand what's happening and how to approach it from a place of surrender and active receptivity.
I believe that true leadership is dancing like nobody's watching in the space between the vision and the reality.
It's being able to hold a higher vision and live in alignment with that, while simultaneously mastering the art of compassion and love for those who do not yet see the light at the end of their own tunnel.
It is to bridge the gap between the two by BEING magnetically and dynamically loving of self, others, and the whole entire universe as one deserving and beautiful object of your affection.
And by being in a state of active receptivity, which requires us to trust and surrender, inspiring others to join you on the journey toward their greatest aliveness as it is meant to be received by them in their wholeness and unique expressions of deep internal power.
I hope that this one piece of my personal story helps you to find inspiration to rise into your own unique expression of leadership, discover what vision it is that you're truly devoted to bringing to life while you're here on this planet, and to take a faith-filled leap to go for your wildest dreams.
Leave a comment below, and let's chat!
I'd love to hear what came up for you while reading this post! If you have any questions for me, please leave them in the comments section as well! I look forward to connecting with you and continuing the conversation :)
To keep riding the story tour train, check out Ander's post from yesterday (you won't want to miss this one!) and stay tuned for Jessie's post tomorrow! The full line-up for the Fearless Footprint Story Tour is available here.