"Got milk?" was a phrase that kept running through my head yesterday as I sat in the Breast Health Center going from round to round of exams and checks. It's always funny to me the silly things I'll think of, the silly phrases, the silly scenarios in some of the most stressful situations. (Of course, I was the child who'd laugh when her friends got into big trouble - out of sheer nervousness - so I guess I'm not that suprised.) I was surrounded by other women who were doing the same thing. Several were there for regular check ups, and a couple were there praying that their scares were just that, scares. A couple others, I'm not completely sure...It was a humbling experience and 3 hours sitting in that environment has quite the ability to increase your love and appreciation for women and the human spirit. It also has quite the ability to get you to start thinking about either sponsoring your girlfriend in one of these 3 day breast cancer walks (or doing it yourself!) (I'll be waiting for the phone to ring as soon as this goes live...wait for it...wait for it...)
I'm going to go out on a limb and write a different kind of post today. I actually shouldn't be posting - I'm prepping for a live call tomorrow on energy and leadership (big turnout so far, feel free to join us http://tinyurl.com/y9nve4k ), but I'm still thinking about these women and this experience. It's just kind of stuck with me. There's no profound leadership advice here except maybe to: make sure you get your preventative health care in, take good care of yourself, and dare to engage the things that terrify you (ie. a sinister looking medical tests) - in service of sticking around, feeling well, and having the most energy and stamina to lead for the things you care about (which technically is Bootist Leadership Tenet 3.) I'd also add in, the invitation to revisit what you're grateful for in your life, and to give a special nod to the women in your life who you love, to the women you don't even know - but appreciate, and to the women whose names you'll never know but who've sat with you through something like this. Yes, leadership learning can be gleened from any situation, but for this post, let's just talk about the power of the human spirit. And specifically, since it's so fresh in my heart, women.
I work with women in business all day long (men too, but today this is a special post for the ladies in the house and the men who love them.) I have 4 younger sisters, a couple of mothers, and several really good girl friends. They're all worth their weight in Platinum to me. There is just about not a single day that goes by that I'm not moved by something one of them does, says, moves through or gives me. Whether it's in their business, with their kids, with their spouse, with their money, with boundaries, or with their leadership (it's hard to distinguish the lines between each!) ...each day the women in my life move me (yes, men, you too, but this is not about you! ;). It's pretty powerful, and I am grateful to be a recepient, a witness, and/or even a catalyst in whatever way I can be. Sitting in this waiting room yesterday - laughing about mammograms, dental appointments and Brazilian bikini waxes (afterall, what could be a more perfect trifecta of a day?) I was moved yet again. But in a different way.
I do alot of work with people in their businesses on leadership and personal congruency and energy management. Part of the goal in our work together is often just to help them become even more of themselves, to unfold their authentic desires, visions, and styles of leadership, and to help them achieve more internal peace and positive energy. (Of course all of this is part of a virtuous cycle that then helps them be more effective in their work.) This internal peace and positive energy, I've always believed, comes from congruency. It also comes from gratitude. And it comes from connecting - just as you truly are.
Often, when I'll start with a new client, I'll have them write their eulogy - what do they want their life to stand for at the end? What do they want to be remembered for? (If you want a short cut to figuring out the meaning of life and what's really important to you - do this exercise with earnest.) What strikes me about this exercise, and I guess part of what struck me yesterday, is that all of the BS just goes away. Forget all the leadership training and "doing it right" and being strategic (yes, of course this is important, but roll with me here), forget "work/life balance," and keeping up with the Jones or the Walmarts or the ??? Just forget it, and look to the core of what's truly important. Underneath all that "stuff", all the shoulds and the niceties and the chaos - is the essence of who you really are. And who we really are in relationship to others.
Unfortunately it often takes writing a eulogy, or sometimes a health scare, or a horrible catastrophic event, to reconnect - if even momentarily - with who we really are, to bring out our full humanity and vulnerability, and to live and connect from that beautiful place. I think part of what was so moving to me yesterday was that, despite the concern each of these women had for themselves, they were still able to laugh and connect and support each other; to giggle over the presence of coffee in the breast health center, to book Brazilians to round out the day, and to learn each others' stories. Oddly, I don't know a single one of their names (there were 5 of us and names seemed trite), but I do know alot about them, their spirit, their appreciation for life, and their willingness to stand in the face of the unknown - gracefullly. It was a good day. And a day that I'll continue to unpack the learning of for some time.
What are you appreciating about the women in your life? Talk to me. Men, chime in. //anese