In my family women came second. My parents were relieved when they had girls because they wouldn’t have to pay for a private education! Girls don’t need it! It took me a long time - and many consciousness-raising meetings in the 70s - to realise that this was not the only way to think about a girl’s achievement potential! Since then I have been intensely interested in how to make up for lost time and how to step out and challenge this early limiting belief.
I have involved myself in all kinds of women’s projects, teaching women assertiveness in the 80s, mediating mutually amicable solutions for divorcing couples in the 90s and for the last 10 years coaching and mentoring ambitious women and quite a few men. All have taught me a great deal about what women need to encourage them to take up the challenge and trust their instincts for success.
Such was my interest that last year I started to interview seriously successful women to try to fully understand their motivation. I knew what it was that held me back and I was curious to know if they had been plagued by the same things as me - or were they just in a different league? I interviewed 20 women in different industries and asked them how they got to where they are and what pearls of wisdom they wanted to share with other women wishing to do the same thing.I learned so much about them, about me and about how to help my female clients. Actually some of the dilemmas are very relevant for men too but don’t say I said so!
It was a complete joy. So much so I didn’t want to stop! They were really inspiring. In fact it wasn’t rocket science but embodied in each individual’s life story and circumstances it was utterly compelling.
What is success?
In this blog I want to share with you some of the advice and stories I heard and use it as a basis for considering some of the situations that women are dealing with in the work place and how to find an approach that enables successful progression.
I’d like to hear from women in law (men are welcome too) what your experiences and challenges are and what you think about the solutions and ideas the women in the book give.
My intention is to consider what gives women the confidence to keep going and, given their decision to go for it, what are the things they need to do to maximise their chances of success. I am always open to finding out more about how to help women be successful in organisations but I know already that if a woman works hard and is talented, with a relatively small amount of input she can go a whole lot further.
With the contributors to the book I would usually do a short exercise where I asked them to pick their three favourite picture cards that from a pack of 50. From these we would work out a suitable phrase or that really embodied who they were in life. I always knew when I was on the right track because there was always an embarrassed giggle of recognition! I believe that it was as a result of learning to use this identity in its most authentic form that gave them the staying power to resolve the inevitable challenges on their way to the top.