I want to tell you a story.
I have been running my own business for over 20 years. As is the case with many women leaders, I did not start out wanting to run my own company. In fact, that was the last thing I wanted to do.
What I had was a dream, and what I wanted was to make it real, to set it on its feet. Turning that vision into a business that could and would make that dream a reality was a step that I tried, for many years, to avoid. To bypass. To ignore.
I had a well developed sense of helplessness that was drilled into me from childhood.
No one in my family ever groomed me to be the breadwinner. My mom had not gone to college so a college education was considered above and beyond what was needed. I was raised to be a wife and mother. Or a nurse. Or grammar school teacher. Jobs that would permit me to fulfill the culturally-required wife/mother duties. Which every cell of my being resented, resisted, and avoided at all costs.
And anyway, businesses are run by leaders, and I was dreamer and artist.
But desire is a powerful force. It is the most powerful force on earth. And the desire I had to create a school for women to reclaim their sensuality, their power, their emotional truth, their voice, was a force that drew me forward as much as I drew it.
In the beginning, I was a hot mess (still always hot, always messy). I would basically hire anyone who said they wanted to work for me. Wow! You see my dream? Great, you are hired! And I would pay them as I could (in those days, very little). Which had mixed results, as you can imagine.
What I learned early was that there were certain parts of the business that I had absolutely no interest in, and it was these parts, especially, that were actually the most important and needed me the most. I loved the front end of the business — the leading, the teaching, the creating, the writing, the marketing, the television appearances. But the back end? Oh lord no. Creating a budget?? A business plan? Accounts receivables? P&L’s? My knees would get weak and my eyes would glaze. Despite warning signs, despite wake-up calls, I tried to ignore the back end of the company as much as I possibly could, to dire straits.
Like many of us, I am hard-headed. So I refused to pay attention. I am the kind of woman who likes to make the same mistake at least twice before I learn it. But in so doing, I found out something.
Life is generous.
Despite my slow apprehension of my business blind spots, I kept going. And even when I f*%ked up big-time, I still lived and breathed another day. And gradually, I learned what I needed and I learned to discern. I called in and listened to my advisors. I checked in with my own body. I gave my intuition and feminine instincts seats at the table. I looked for the more pleasurable way. I prayed thanks to Goddess for the successes and learning. And as a result, I made better decisions. As a result, for more than twenty years, I’ve been fulfilling my desire to run a school of women for women.
I wanted to bring this forward because I know there are many of you who have a desire that is pressing on you, preoccupying you, leaning on you. But for many of us, the very moment we have a desire, is the very moment we get flooded with doubt. We might feel overwhelmed by the thought that we don’t have enough experience or knowledge to start a business, or leave a marriage, or have a baby on our own. We might be scared to lose financial security. We might be overwhelmed by all that we don’t know. We might listen to the reasons why not, over the still small voice that says ‘yes.’
Which is why I wanted to share my story with you.
You, sister, are resourceful, capable, and powerful beyond your own understanding of yourself.
And you are a leader. And can lead yourself from here to whatever it is you desire.
We are shown so few models of feminine leadership some of us don’t even know it’s a thing.
It is. But I was one of the ones who didn’t know. I thought, for sure, a leader is someone who KNOWS HOW TO GET THERE. A leader holds the map. A leader speaks the loudest and holds all authority. A leader knows the most. A leader is profit-driven. A leader is logical. A leader tops a hierarchy. A leader wears a suit and tie.
I believed that because it’s the cultural story. Told by men. About masculine leadership. And they tell that story because it was the one handed down to them too. What a loss to us all that, for a time — a few thousand years of patriarchy — we became confused about the qualities (and even existence) of feminine leadership.
Feminine leadership DREAMS THE DESTINATION; it is visionary.
Feminine leadership trusts.
Feminine leadership prioritizes the experience over the route.
Feminine leadership may be quiet or even silent; it creates space for reflection.
Feminine leadership shares power.
Feminine leadership seeks knowledge from the community.
Feminine leadership is mission-driven.
Feminine leadership recognizes intuition.
Feminine leadership is at home in a circle.
And a feminine leader? Wears whatever the f@#k she wants, sisters.
We all play with the masculine and feminine, all the time. We’re not binary-committed, either/or, stuck. We are pulsing and alive, gliding along a spectrum of human possibility — or should be. We can feel depleted and defeated before we even begin, though, if we’re not living our wholeness. If we’re not regarding what is feminine in us as sacred and powerful and useful and glorious. If we see our gifts as liabilities, flaws, faults, failure. As wrong.
If your leadership style (and I don’t care who you are, you have one) skews more feminine, in this culture, that may lead you to believe you don’t have what it takes to do what you want to do. It’s a lie. All you need is desire and your whole self.
I am shy. I am disorganized. I have more ideas than I can manage. I have no interest in spreadsheets, balance sheets, or YTD P&Ls. By all conventional considerations, I shouldn’t be running a multi-million dollar company. But I am. For 20+ years now. And it supports me and my daughter (I did become a breadwinner), provides meaningful livelihoods for a team of women and one man, and has taught thousands and thousands and thousands of women from around the world. I had the desire; the rest arrived, and is arriving still.
It doesn’t matter how much you know or do not know before you start anything — you have within you the resources to figure out what you need as you go along. That is all part of the adventure. And truth? No one really and truly knows what they are doing. Some just act that way. And when you are actually held and met in the adventure of fulfilling a deeply held desire, then your life becomes an ever-unfolding spiritual experience that hands you the most custom-designed opportunities for wholeness, at precisely the right times.
Committing yourself to someone else’s vision for your life may seem more secure, but it is a hard way to find what you’re made of. It is a hard way to find joy. And it is a damn near impossible way to be filled with the sense of aliveness that is your birthright.
You are and have everything you need.
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts
Regena is a feminist icon, a teacher, a speaker, a mother, a best-selling author, and creatrix and CEO of The School of Womanly Arts.
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