We all know this. The cutting edge leadership gurus have been proclaiming it from the rooftops for awhile now. We need to show up with our ‘whole selves’, be authentic, listen and speak from, and to, the heart, model integrity, you get the idea.
Sounds great! Sign me up!
But what if, as women, we show up whole-heartedly, fully present in body and soul, and our presence gets mistaken as sexual? What if we’re accused of being too emotional and too circular, or our openness is treated as an opportunity to invade or attack? What about all those sly communication patterns that make you feel shamed and never good enough (which, when you think about it, often means not masculine enough, or perhaps not feminine enough – you can be damned either way, can’t you)? Or how about when the energy and ideology in the room is so mind-numbingly, predictably lifeless that you just want to scream? What would whole-hearted look like then?
If you’re like almost every woman I’ve ever talked to, this happens more frequently than we care to admit.
Women are less prone to compartmentalizing and generally find the idea of showing up with our ‘whole selves’ appealing. Until we give it a whirl a few times, especially in mixed-gender or male-dominated bureaucracies. Then when our feminine souls feel threatened or threatening, we decide to leave our soft underbellies and our force-of-nature-ferocity at home, and return to trying to fit our round female selves into a square masculine world.
In a culture where women showing up in public life at all is still a relatively new phenomenon, it can be hard for anyone, male or female, to know what showing up with our whole selves means, where women are truly included.
After awhile, we can grow cynical and frustrated with the idea and retreat behind the shell of ‘what’s safe’ and ‘what works’.
If this sounds familiar, and you want to both ‘show up’ more fully yourself (whatever that looks like for you) and help create norms that are more inviting of real whole selves, you need to learn about Presencing the Active Feminine.
Presencing the Active Feminine
After struggling to bring my own Active Feminine self to work for 20 years in corporate leadership, and earning an Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University with these problems in mind, I have developed a framework for engaging the full range of womanhood in public/work/community settings. The Active Feminine is a powerfully transformational archetypal energy – just what the world is calling out for in these troubled times. And we could all use some help in learning how to invite her into our group deliberations.