6 years ago this week-end I attended a party and met a man who presence in my life altered it in ways I never imagined.
We shared the highs and lows of 3 amazingly intensive years which are easily some of the happiest experiences I have had to date. He died unexpectedly in January 2013.
There was an immediate connection between us and two amazing dates before Christmas followed. We texted throughout the holidays whilst we were in different countries and it led to a blissfully romantic January! Our first kiss was spectacular and thanks to the Christmas lights I definitely saw stars! I can now look back on that time with incredible love and gratitude – and know that whilst he may no longer hold my hand, he is forever in my heart.
Living through his death and beyond has changed me immeasurably.
He chose a career in finance and was very successful in the masculine way that we currently define success. He was brilliant and creative but it was his sensitivity and soul that I fell in love with. He envied the passion I felt for my work and supported me in following my professional dreams. I credit him with so much of my current direction and business evolution.
At the time of his death he was not working, having recently left the company of a man who had an estimated net worth of $1.6 Billion. We had lived together during two key years where his actions and ability added to, and protected much of that wealth, but at a huge cost to his own health and happiness. We’d met when he was new to his role, high on life and had a genuine and deep respect for this man. The behaviour he was later subjected to, shocked and saddened him deeply. I continue to be horrified when I see this individual being publicly lauded.
Whilst we continue to live within a cultural paradigm that makes space for aggression to be celebrated and values profit as the ultimate symbol of achievement we will not realise our collective potential or experience the full breadth of joy and fulfilment we are capable of feeling.
I can relate to the “anytime, anywhere” performance model McKinsey highlighted in Women Matter 2013 – Gender diversity in top management: Moving corporate culture, moving boundaries which not only penalises mothers but is detrimental to the growing wave of men who want to be more involved fathers as my original career within the hotel industry revolved around a very masculine set of values and behaviours.
Fortunately I believe there are now companies who have made sizeable shifts and are open to change. These are the companies we want to be looking to as leaders, not the laggards who refuse to believe there is no need to do so. They support the pipeline of female talent and men who want to show their children what love is rather than just provide for them financially.
As men and women we need to re connect to our feminine energy and truly understand and respect the value these traits offer to business.
Whether we want to be parents, travel at length, fully care for elderly parents or unexpectedly need some “time out” to re-group as we navigate through various life experience, I believe corporate Britain should have a contingency for this. I believe companies who can factor short 3, 6 or 9 month, well managed career breaks into their employment policies are the ones who will thrive and attract the best talent going forward.
I took time out when Nick died and it was the best gift my business could’ve received.
I let go of operating in my masculine energy and the need to do anything and opened up to the feminine behaviour of being.
Masculine energy creates linear thinking, goal setting and targets, drive, competition, concrete and analytical control. Feminine energy is more abstract and allowing, with the focus more on surrender, nourishment, connection, flow, receptivity and calm. Combining the two creates the greatest results but sometimes we need to embrace one or other aspect more intensely.
When I needed to heal I had to let go of the desire to achieve or care about what anyone else was up to. I had to go inwards and listen to my heart.
In the New Year I will be launching a Crowdfunding venture. I am writing a business plan and a book and taking focused and planned action to bring these to life. But I am also asking for help, collaborating on ideas and sharing my thoughts. I have a deadline but there is space to ebb and flow along the way.
In many ways Nick was an “alpha male” which allowed me to be supremely feminine. It was great for us as a couple but my business started to lack structure and shape and I deferred decisions to him rather than standing in my own power.
I’ve had to step up and shift some limiting beliefs around my own capabilites and find the balance of being vulnerable and open, soft yet strong. My inner resilience and sense of self worth is ten times greater than it was. I wobble but I’m unlikely to fall.