This week I had the great pleasure of listening to Dr. Scilla Elworthy alongside a panel of 3 men (2 Heads of Diversity and Inclusion for Linklaters LLC and National Grid) and the Chief Executive of Tomorrow’s Company, a London-based globally focused think-tank for business leaders and investors to re-shape the future of our businesses.
Dr Elworthy, Scilla had a warmth, humour, presence and aura which I loved.
As the founder of Peace Direct which aims to fund, promote and learn from local peace builders in conflict areas and Rising Women, Rising World, a collective of experienced women specialists with knowledge and expertise in the full spectrum of human development, she is truly a remarkable women. She has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times.
If ever there was a time when we need to look to better solutions for conflict, it is now and I believe listening to Dr Elworthy cannot help but change you.
What caught my attention straight off the bat was the admission that in 1985, in researching 650 nuclear weapons policy makers, only 5 of which were women, Dr. Elworthy discovered that the cognitive maps of their thought patterns were identical. Women in male dominated environments, think and act as men. To put it another way – the left brain submerges the right brain.
What this means is that our thinking and more crucially, our decision-making becomes very skewed. Instead of the balance of yin and yang, creativity and order, expression and non-expression, we lose the feminine values of empathy and deep, deep listening; grace in the face of fire rather than anger and defensiveness; and the ability to think ahead to future generations; instead focusing on the immediate, pressing present and the competition at every turn.
As Linklaters, Daniel Danso expressed “We have to have reason (that resonates) to believe in our leaders” and leaders of the future need to have done the inner work as a prerequisite.
A daily practice of self enquiry and inspection, quiet reflection and inner knowing will enable leaders and employees to be fully present, engaged and access their feminine, intuitive wisdom.
Previously, any type of “naval gazing” has been derided in the business world – but as more enlightened leaders step forward and admit to this practice, the more credibility it is gaining.
Nelson Mandela is perhaps the best example of a man who “awakened his feminine” during his 27 years in captivity, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. During a time of immense torture and hateful treatment he went deep within, learning to have empathy and compassion for his captors and returning to the world as a free man with feelings of love and a desire to inspire and create peace; rather than seek revenge or retribution.
As an aromatherapist since late 1999 I learnt to awaken my feminine and soften many of the harsh, masculine traits I adopted working in the corporate world. I learnt to embrace my natural desires for laughter and lightness, heart over head. Having worked with so many women during the pregnancy journey and transition to motherhood I now actively seek time with men to balance out my yang energy and to ensure I take (inspired) action as well as enjoying times of reflection and calm. My last partner was a very strong “alpha male” and in many ways we complemented each other beautifully but in the last two years I have learnt to become more whole and balanced alone and am thankful for the experience.
All men and women, girls and boys, LGBT have a left and right side to their brain and the ability to connect with both masculine and feminine traits. Being unafraid to tap into all aspects of ourselves can ensure we bring our most authentic selves to the table and help bring about more balance to our world and our business cultures which can impact far and wide.
It starts from within and it starts with each one of us. Choosing not to conform to outdated gender stereotypes but to be the whole person we were destined to be.
I believe when both men and women, awaken and reclaim their feminine we will raise better children, collectively show more respect for our planet and see extraordinary results, in our personal lives and in our boardrooms.