Illuminating the World
Some call it the Power of the Feminine; some call it the Female Advantage; and some call it Woman Power. No matter what we call it, we are facilitating change.
Our innate skills of collaboration, communication and consensus, when utilized, provide our own kind of strength for creating a better world. In the boardrooms of top corporations, men are being taught the “softer” feminine skills. They are encouraged to be good listeners and consensus builders, to have concern for the greater good, and to generate leadership that is about relationships.
It’s a great time to be a woman—to break out of the confines that our mothers lived within because they had no choice. Our unique talents are getting the attention of colleges and universities and creating balance in the leadership of corporations. What women’s softer skills bring to the boardroom can complement the male model, that of ranking and structuring, delegating and analyzing—and the result is a greater opportunity for more productive business, relationships and growth.
Carol Hiltner of Altai Mir University in her speech at the Global Leadership Forum in Novosibirsk, Russia in 2007 said that “our feminine leadership arises out of that deepest and most precious spiritual value: unconditional love. And unconditional love is based on our feminine qualities of intuition and community.”
Yet feminine leadership is not about taking over from the men. It is about helping create balance in the leadership to create the most gain for all. To help the human race thrive.
Women are using their feminine strengths everywhere, to effect change. They’re creating hospitals for victims of fistula, a physically damaging result of rape. They’re supporting schools in Kenya. They’re creating birthing centers in Uganda for victims of AIDS, and they’re standing up for abuse against children.
In the book Half the Sky, the authors tell how Jane Roberts is making a difference in her own way. She read about George Bush announcing his cut of $34 million that had been allocated for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. From Redland, California, this retired French teacher decided to write a letter to her local newspaper. Here’s what she said:
A week has passed since the Bush Administration decided to deny the $34 million voted by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund. Ho Hum, this is vacation time. Columnists have written about it and newspapers have printed editorials of lament. Ho Hum. More women die in childbirth in a few days than terrorism kills people in a year. Ho Hum. Some little girl is having her genitals cut with a cactus needle. Ho Hum, that’s just a cultural thing.
As an exercise in outraged democracy, would 34 million of my fellow citizens please join me in sending one dollar each to the U.S. Committee for UNFPA? That would right a terrible wrong and drown out the Ho Hums.
Jane Roberts contacted women’s organizations and persevered until she got endorsements from them to help with her cause. At the same time, Lois Abraham was reading about the cutting of funding for programs helping victims of obstetric fistulas, and she joined the ranks.
By promoting a one-dollar donation through media, women’s organizations and ground-level movements, this grassroots effort DID raise the $34 million for UNFPA programs. They certainly demonstrated the power of feminine collaboration and cooperation, plus dogged perseverance.
Defining Your Passion
Having enthusiasm for a better world means you can be a volunteer, participate in rescue missions, or motivate someone to give up drugs. Changing the world is a dynamic of one change, one person at a time. It’s as simple as giving your free cup of coffee to the person behind you in line when your punch card is full, writing a $5.00 check each month to help provide a better quality of drinking water for children in Thailand, or writing a simple note to the bank manager because the young teller was cheerful and helpful and did her job well. Little bits by little bits, we can help create a better place for all.
In the movie The Hours, Meryl Streep speaks to Ed Harris, who is dying of Aids. Meryl’s character continually checks on him, brings him food and flowers, and watches over him. He is naturally depressed and is ready for his life to end. He has given up on living. In this scene his question to her is, “Why do you keep coming around? Why do you keep taking care of me?” Exhausted, looking up from the hair hanging between her eyes, and with a determined set of her jaw, she responds, “Because that’s what people do. We take care of one another.”
How do you know with conviction what your passion is? Is it a personal and social responsibility to know what it is and to spend your days trying to live it? Is it something that comes and goes and looks different over time? Does each woman have her own personal passion? Are they everyday activities, or hard-to-realize dreams?
Are you drawn to things you can never really have, and do you consider those your passions? Some read novels that allow them to escape from the day-to-day, and they watch with interest as celebrities’ personal lives unfold in front of them on television. Some define passion as crazy-wild, unpredictable; going in a direction only their heart leads them, swept away by desires and emotions.
As Sarah Ban Breathnach says in her book Excavating Your Authentic Self, “passion’s nature is most often cloaked in the deep, subtle, quiet, and committed: nursing a baby, planting a rose garden, preparing a special meal, caring for a friend who is ill, remembering a friend’s birthday, persevering in a dream. Passion is the muse of authenticity. She’s the primordial, pulsating energy that infuses all of life, the numinous presence made known with every beat of our hearts.”
I believe Sarah has captured a clear meaning of the word passion. This is the true definition as disclosed through the women’s stories throughout this book—one that is quiet, dedicated to a cause. One that is deep within the souls of these women who are affecting the world. And I think this is the type of passion that I was learning all along in my days as a Girl Scout.
Your passion might be defined by making a promise to a greater good, to a bigger cause; to stepping outside of your own immediate needs and realizing the importance of taking care of others and of knowing, understanding and feeling the great sense of personal responsibility for being a part of creating better lives for our neighbors, our family, our friends and the world.
My parents moved us around a lot. By the time I was 14 years old I had been in 15 different schools. One thing my childhood taught me was to be flexible. I am not shy about meeting people when I’m in new situations, and I believe it was this childhood that had something to do with my career choices. Maybe my public speaking became a way for me to be heard. Always landing in new places, I had to have something to say or I could have melted into the walls.
Do you have a story? Do you, like me, realize that the events of your life make up who you are today? What are those events? What defines you? Start from where you are and make a list of all the things you care about. Listen to your heart to get focus on your passions. That’s what the women whose stories you are about to read have done.