Voices, Well-being

The Time for Wayward Women

Helen Keller; American author, political activist, lecturer.

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit. ~ Helen Keller

The time for wayward women is nigh. Women who take the challenges given to our gender and climb the mountain, knock down the wall, chip away at the glass ceiling, without pause. Women who bring a collective voice to a marketplace intent on drowning out their story. Women whose collective voices transcend the cacophony of the marketplace, and rise above the din. Women who are ready to lead.

There is a leadership gap in both business and politics. Returning to the ‘old’ ways is not the answer. Nor can we ignore the ‘old’ ways in favor of something new and untried or untested.

Yes, untried and untested should be part of the journey; to follow a different path, open a different door, allow adventure in. But, in doing so, there has to be a solid foundation of understanding: where do you want to end up? And, what happens when you get there?

The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland is often quoted; “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

Conversely, Robert Frost encourages us to take the less traveled road, be impetuous, move away from the crowd, in his poem, The Road Not Taken.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Perhaps, however, as I told my audience in September, in Portland, OR, where I was honored to keynote for the Women in the Pet Industry Network, you can choose any path you like,  the one most traveled, or the one less traveled, because both will take you where you were meant to be. It’s not the road that matters. It’s how you dance along the road, as you go. If you can’t dance, you aren’t achieving your desires.

As wayward women, it’s up to us to lead the way. It’s up to us to bring new thoughts, ideas, leadership skills, and competencies to our business and life endeavors. For those who try to separate business and life, there is a bus leaving in about 10 minutes. Perhaps you should be on it.

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It’s time for the wayward woman to assert her leadership skills.

Life is about being a leader, especially for women. Those of us who rock the cradle – and make no bones about it, you rock a lot of cradles as a woman, some of them your own kids, some not, but the cradles are there and you will rock them – we’ve spent a lot of time on this leadership thing. It might not seem so, but it’s true.

We learn that listening is often all the other person needs. Not everything exists to be fixed.

We learn that being a little invisible can be a good thing, but when it’s not, we learn to charge out front, even if our hair isn’t combed.

We learn that society mistakenly believes our thoughts and ambitions revolve only around the kitchen, and sometimes the bedroom. As we grow older, we work to prove to society that it’s wrong, that our thoughts and ambitions are lofty and complicated, and that we will not be deterred.

We learn that leadership is an ever evolving process, different today than it was yesterday, and not at all the way it will be next week, or next month.

We learn that we have the talent and the brains to learn it all. Despite some push-back from naysayers.

In a recent article on Leading Women, their research shows the percentage of critical competencies needed for women in leadership as:

50% Outcomes – Business, Strategic & Financial Acumen

26% Engage Others – Interpersonal, Team Skills

24% Personal Greatness – Skills, Attributes

Interestingly, further into the research, we learn that conventional advice (the road trampled by too many boots and sneakers) “overemphasizes 66% of the career success equation for women.” This moves women upward, but does not get them to the senior executive positions. Conventional advice and training prepares us for… management but not executive offices.

This, I believe, is where the wayward woman comes in. This is where the wayward woman taps into her stubbornness, her individuality, her ambition and her unpredictability.  These are traits you don’t see in the leadership map. These are traits whispered behind our backs. That we will never amount to anything, will never attain leadership roles, because we are too independent.

Contrary to that thinking, our independence serves us well. We know when to take the lead and how to manage it, but we also know when to stand back and listen, watch, encourage. Strong women with wayward tendencies build amazing businesses – out of old boxes and string. There is magic in their touch.

This is the time for wayward women. Come forward and embrace your inner girl – the one who stood up to the bully, even when the bully was twice her size.


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The power of a woman’s voice is everything!