Image copyright of TriStar Pictures Inc from Jerry Maguire.
My Jerry Maguire moment came unexpectedly, I guess they often do.
I’ve spent decades of my life immersed in one of the most male dominated industries in the world. And for a long time I found a way to thrive. I was a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of kid. I was the first girl in my family to graduate from University. I made an incredibly successful international career for myself that no one knew existed—not even me—in something I was incredibly passionate about. I started a successful consulting business. And I did it all inside a business culture that included few powerful women (mostly via inherited wealth) and not a widespread interest for changing that. I groomed myself into a beige power-suited intellectually armoured woman who was known for my passion and my relentless work ethic.
I used to just jump over the knocks of the patriarchal and frankly misogynistic structure of the my corporate world. I had some great support from men around me, treasured friendships, door openers, and mentors. But I also had to deal with something none of them did. The men who were threatened by me and tried to knock me down a few notches to feel better about themselves because of their own beliefs about where a woman (minority, LGBTQ person etc) fit in the scheme of things. The boss that groped me after a late work session. The fact that when I got a promotion all the senior men on the team at my level had to have their titles changed too because it wouldn’t look right, me out-ranking them. I fought through all of it. But eventually, through sickening repetition, I began to see the knocks for what they were and despite my success, despite my advocacy on behalf of other women in my field for decades, I set down my sword and walked out of that arena. I tell you this to provide some receipts for when I tell you I know how to recognise the pattern of business structures that are the framework of that culture.
It took me a decade to let go of the pay and the privilege and the adjacency to power. It definitely didn’t happen over night or in a vacuum. And while that was happening I was also simultaneously investing in uncovering my un-armoured self again through a lot of online groups and courses. I was learning about the company of women. I had felt so isolated out there—it’s why we were all in tears at the beginning of freaking Wonder Woman, those strong women together like that, revelling in each other's power and skill. I was learning how our web of connection and encouragement of each other could really change the world. It changed mine. I was learning how to value the knowledge and support of other women almost like a patriarchy-recovery program.
But we aren’t nearly out of the woods. The success of the movement, the size of our communities, the way we connect, began to attract others who wanted to “show us how to do it better.” And before you know it the practices of the very world that sent us to each other in the first place are being put in place as systems inside our learning world and communities.
We started to mimic growth obsession at the expense of the well being of some.
We aren’t systematically scooching over to make room for more intersections of the same pattern of othering and diminishment we have been subjected to.
We assume consent and do everything to avoid hearing we aren’t wanted right now.
We haven’t built a structure that teaches us to deal with making mistakes and being told we are hurting each other. We aren’t teaching each other how to be ok with hearing it and to plan on being wrong at least at some point.
And we haven’t figured out how to call each other out without leaving a bunch more bodies on the ground.
We aren’t systematically considering all the trauma that our very existence carries with it and how that inevitably shows up when instigating change.
And when I noticed it, that's when I had my Jerry Maguire moment and wrote my own mission statement, my audio course Permission for Coaches and Mentors. And my moment, unlike the movie, wasn’t to save my old industry from itself or to just switch some of the power that was found there into my own hands. It was about us, now. The ones who are supposed to be out here making the world better. We’ve got to stop replicating the ways of the systems which do so much damage to us or doom another generation to be the ones who have to recover from us! Somewhere along the line we started building the thing we’re running from. And I want us to have conversations and as an industry do some critical thinking about that. Is your work trauma-informed? Can you make tide-pools of pause and rest and sovereignty inside your methods to create change? Where do you assume consent? Are you ready for rejection? Are you safe for people with different life experiences than your own?
I offer my work for those who are interested in guidance and structure for thinking about how to start building our world in a different way.
Lots of love,