What are you worth? I don’t mean in terms of net worth. I mean fundamentally. How much value do you place in yourself and your capacity to create opportunity and possibility for those in your care (your partner, your family, your team and your organisation)? What is your relationship to investing in yourself and your leadership? Do you outsource it to your company, thereby removing it from your responsibility?
If the chips were down, would you bank on yourself?
Have a deep think about those questions then let me share with you how most conversations generally start with my clients…
“I’m not happy with my current circumstances. I really want to change ‘x’ in my life/leadership.”
We explore what that magnificent shift might look like, and then the ‘buts’ arrive. Right after… “Oh Yes!! This is what I want!!” Comes… “But I can’t – I have to put a new kitchen in/pay for the kids’ studies/give the family a vacation etc. Oh and I don’t want to lose everything I’ve worked for or make any waves. Besides, with my track record and dedication, my organisation should invest in me.”
It should. As a general rule, most women – me included – will bleed themselves dry to protect their loved ones, to create a gorgeous, welcoming environment, offer exciting family vacations and pay for our children’s – or even our siblings’- educations, but when it comes to choosing to take a leap and invest in our own growth and the opportunities we want to create for ourselves, we immediately revert to renovating the old kitchen so everybody benefits and nobody loses. Or we do what we can to outsource that investment to someone else.
Only that selfless and responsible way we have of leading by putting the collective first? And that desire to have our organisation invest in our development? They both backfire on us, the world and that very collective we desire to support in the process.
Here’s how it backfires:
First – There’s a Universal law that we all are mostly blind to and need to wake up to urgently. Everything- EVERYTHING – works inside out. Expecting your organisation, or anyone else for that matter, partner, children, siblings etc to see you and recognise you before you do the work of seeing yourself, is a hefty transfer of your personal responsibility from you to them which is rooted in your inner child, not your mature adult. In Australia, this is what we would call getting it arse-about-face!
Not only is this a big responsibility to put into someone else’s hands, it’s also leaving a hell of a lot to chance and interpretation. You’re a grown up woman, remember?! If you want to explore the park, you eventually have to let go of Daddy’s hand. YOU are the leader. YOU show the way. In this way, you model self-leadership to those around you and you free them up to do the same. What greater gift?
That’s not to say that your organisation or your partner couldn’t invest in you, but you will never be free and anchored firmly in your full adult power until you’ve claimed the lead and invested in yourself first. On top of that, all external investment in you comes with a tacit moral obligation to shape your growth so it fits within their criteria. Sure, you’ll grow, but a more like a bonsai than a cedar or a sequoia. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and it has its place. But if you want to make real, transformative shifts in your life or leadership – you don’t get out of taking on the responsibility and making that investment yourself, FIRST!
Second – Yes, we all have choices to make with the available resources. However to the extent that everyone in your care, including yourself, is currently doing ok, by choosing not to invest in yourself, you’re modelling contraction rather than expansion, short term thinking over long term thinking, and limiting your choices to only two limited possible scenarios – invest in yourself or invest in others. All this founded in the idea that investing in yourself could only take away from the whole rather than contribute to it. It’s also based in the fear that you would fritter away precious resources rather than actually step up and into the level of your investment – that you could not develop the capacity create more.
Choosing from contraction stunts your growth and the deeper, long term growth opportunities for those in your care.
What you are modelling when you choose from contraction, is playing not to lose rather than playing to win. While protecting what you have worked hard for, like that funny squirrel in Ice Age, doesn’t require any investment, have you evaluated the cost of aiming for security in terms of time and energy? Have you considered what the long term cost of this is, especially to those in your care, over the long term?
Unless your survival is in very real and immediate danger (as opposed to feeling like it is or imagining it could be – hello catastrophic scenarios!!) there’s no point and no leadership in aiming for safety, as this is what you can predictably count on yourself to get back to on your own Every. Single. Time. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at your life – you’ve reliably kept yourself, and those in your care surviving! That’s not likely to change, it’s what you’re programmed for.
Because we are inherently programmed for survival, it’s precisely for this reason that real growth and transformation isn’t something you can do either on your own, or without YOU investing in yourself. Your investment in yourself is not about making your life marginally better, like renovating your kitchen, it is about creating what is not currently possible for you or those in your care with your current way of being and thinking.
This might seem like a strange thing to say as France, the beautiful country I call home, goes back into lockdown – but the middle of any crisis is rarely the time to hunker down and contract, even when your survival instinct is insisting very loudly that you must. On the contrary, it is exactly the time to bank on yourself.
This is how you THRIVE in crisis rather than gritting your teeth and surviving it.
7 years ago, I read an article in Forbes that said the best investment you could make with a small (!!) amount of between 5,000 and 10,000 dollars was in yourself, or in your own business. I would expand that definition to say – in your leadership! I didn’t even have that much back then.
5 years ago, when I left my marriage and was counting dishwasher tablets, using them sparingly so they would last and I could wait till the next month to buy a new box, I managed to scrape up the funds to invest in my first coach.
I have made that initial investment back many times over so far, and the lives of all those important to me, in my care – including my clients, my children and my friends – have thrived and expanded from that investment, far more than I could ever have imagined.
Most importantly, that investment in myself has given them – particularly my girls and the women I am in service of – the permission and freedom to do the same – for the greater good. That’s invaluable, and the absolute best long term return on investment I could have hoped for. Teach a woman to fish… Right? You know the parable.
Never underestimate the freedom, power and wide-reaching positive impact that comes with banking on, and investing in yourself.
When you want to step into greater possibility and leadership, but you are tempted to contract and put it off to ‘a better time’ or outsource the investment to your organisation, ask yourself these questions:
- What is likely to continue if I don’t invest in myself and what is that costing me and everyone in my care?
- Where will I – and those in my care – be in five years if I rely on others to see my value before I see my own ?
- What trust do I put in someone who doesn’t show up for herself enough to invest in her own future?
- What leadership do I ultimately want to model to those in my care?
When you really want to take the reins of leadership – of your life, of your project, of your department or of your organisation, it won’t be your organisation investing in you. It will be you. Because only then you will know your own value.
Only then you will know the immense joy and pride of rising to the level of your own investment in yourself.
Only then will you accomplish what you hardly dared imagine possible.
And chances are you’ll also create the resources you need to put in that new kitchen as well finance your kid’s education.
Your investment in you is your gift to the world.
P.S. If you want to transform leadership rather than conform to it there are 2 ways you can be part of the Wild Wild Spirit Leadership movement.
- Wild Spirit Leadership Club
A high level, 10 month adventure for women who are redefining leadership and contributing to society on a greater level, through a deeper relationship with being. The program is founded in the 4 pillars of commitment, integrity, playing bigger, and contribution – all deeply grounded in leading from being. This is high challenge, laced with humour and play. For women who refuse to sell their soul for greater leadership impact our promise is that your impact will increase as you get closer to your wild nature. There are still 6 spaces left. Click here to apply and find out more. We close the doors end November. This is the perfect sisterhood to support you in creating your greatest contribution to the world through, and post Covid.
- League of Badass Women’s Fireside Power Talks that I’m hosting on Thursday evenings over the Northern Hemisphere Winter with women world wide who want to redefine leadership. Contact me here to find out more about future discussion topics and times.
- Monday morning ‘Wild Spirit Office Hours’ where you can drop in with a question, share an idea and leave feeling more alive than you arrived. Shoot me an email to get the zoom link or contact me on LinkedIn.