Welcome to the last in the series of Women’s Development blogs from our RISE Women’s Development Programme. We’re delighted to announce that this final blog heralds the re-launch of the programme.
After 4 years of delivering the programme both here and in the Middle East the wonderful RISE facilitators shared their knowledge and experience of working with their fabulous cohorts and we gave the programme a little makeover.
We have kept the best of each module and added some great new content, tightened up some exercises, designed an App which includes a range of hypnosis sessions to increase confidence, created a Learning Zone to keep the excitement and connection going in-between modules, and added a final sprinkling of magic in the form of some fabulous new course materials.
So, that got me thinking about us as women and how important it is to take the time re-invent ourselves, to learn lessons and to move into different chapters of our lives with renewed vigour and excitement. As women we naturally have defining chapters in our lives; when we first move from being girls into young ladies, when we become pregnant, ‘empty nest’ syndrome, when we enter the menopause, caring for elderly parents, becoming grandmothers, and each of these bring a change that we have to learn to cope with and either embrace or suffer with.
Compare this to a man’s life track which remains on a fairly predictable and non-emotional trajectory – they leave school/university, get a job, get a promotion, continue to get promoted (hopefully) and then retire. Yes, many of them become parents, their children leave home, they care for elderly parents and have grandchildren but generally not with the massive emotional upheaval that women experience.
Often, before we deliver our RISE Women’s Development Programme clients ask me why it should be a woman only programme and whether men can attend? The answer is a categoric ‘no’, because of all of the situations described above. Sometimes women need to be in a group to discuss the impact that these things have on them and how it affects them in the workplace and they need a space whereby they can find out that they are not the only person who feels the way that they do. Often, they feel really alone and when they find the courage to speak about this in a safe space and realise that it is normal to feel the way they do it gives them a different perspective.
And what about the re-inventing ourselves? Well, when a change happens to us, we have an opportunity to choose our response. We can embrace it positively, recognising that resistance is futile, actively seeking out all of the good things that can come out of this, and understanding that whatever is happening to us is part of the rich tapestry of life and our evolution. Or we can focus on the difficulties that we are experiencing, dwell on the negatives in the situation and wish parts of our life away. That is not to say that there isn’t pain or de-habilitating symptoms attached, but there is a huge amount of evidence that shows when we focus our brain to seek out the positives in situations the symptoms lessen.
But even more than that, it gives us the opportunity to relook at our lives, our careers, how we present ourselves and to consider what we really want. When we start our careers, many people try to mould us, into their definition of a powerful woman – which can often be to emulate male behaviour. I have coached many women whom, when we sat down to write objectives for the coaching programme, have told me that their managers say they need to more ‘assertive’. As I talk to them, I am surprised to hear a really good level of assertion and Emotional Intelligence coming from them so I ask them to describe their manager’s behaviour. It soon becomes very clear that the manager is extremely aggressive.
The manager, therefore, thinks that the woman needs to replicate this behaviour in order to be successful! And yet, in my opinion, a warm but powerful and authentic woman leader achieves great things with their teams and stakeholders. So, as women, we owe it to ourselves to be ourselves and not to be pressurised in behaving in the stereotypical way people want us to. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens to us before we even recognise it and we are conforming to company norms yet constantly feeling uncomfortable because our values are being violated.
But there is never a bad time to stop, take a look at yourself and re-evaluate who you are, what you want to be, how you want to present yourself, and whether you are living within your own value system. As we go through life we take in huge amounts of information, we have millions of experiences, we observe and interact with thousands of people and therefore it is no wonder we sometimes end up with an identity crisis. Unconsciously, we are learning from each of these experiences and interactions but often we do not take the time to reflect and to absorb these learnings and apply them to our current circumstances.
Perhaps we haven’t really established what our values are, in which case it would be easy to be living in a way that felt uncomfortable and working in a job that was not the right fit. Perhaps we are succumbing to family or peer pressure that means we have to live our lives in a certain way, never achieving what you are really capable of.
So, what does it take to do a little life spring clean? On our RISE programme, we take people through a series of exercises that helps them to think about their strengths and how they are using them, their values and how much they are living within their values, the lessons they have learnt and what this means for them, their life guidelines and their future plans. It is a great feeling when you feel aligned, authentic and focused – and let’s face it none of us know how much life we are going to have, so why not live it in a way that makes us feel great.
Over the last 5 years, we have coached senior women and run women’s programmes around the world. This has resulted in our model Elev8te, the 8 Traits of Successful Women, our development programme RISE and our Empowered Women’s Development App. At the end of each programme, we collate impact statements and we will be sharing these alongside a series of tips for women. If you would like to hear more tips then download our App now or contact us for details on the RISE programme.