You’re the intuitive type.
You rely on that humble gut feeling when it comes to action.
Yet you are torn that your gut feeling doesn’t like any thought of doing rock hard hustle.
Surely if I follow my gut, it will all work out?
For the spirited, sensitive woman, this is an ongoing issue when building a business. It has become such a prevalent concern that it has completely boggled me into asking questions that seem to herald no definitive answers:
Can we be intuitive yet strategic in our businesses?
Can we rely on our gut feeling, when evidence dictates that we need to do something else?
When do we listen in and listen out?
My concern and intense curiosity for this has prompted me to write quite possibly the longest blog post I have ever written. This delicate act of balancing the so-called masculine and feminine energies when running a business seem to be tearing apart women as they build their business. It’s a conversation that needs to be held.
THE ENERGIES EXPLAINED
According to a quick Google search, I found numerous (thousands) of references to the good ol’ masculine and feminine energies. I found this page, though not exactly an aesthetically-pleasing one, as a good reference point.
It explains the masculine energy to be:
The masculine side is full of things that you have to be strong and self-confident in order to do. These include being able to claim your basic rights, such as the right to feel free to operate independently of others, and the right to belong or fit into society in any way you please. Claiming your rights also includes being able to stand up to people who try to take away your rights, either by force or intimidation, or by manipulation, or by trying to hinder you in choosing your own direction in life. The masculine side also includes the ability to be decisive, to take risks when appropriate, and to focus intently and concentrate in order to get things done.
In addition, a strong masculine side builds common sense, which helps you figure out how to accomplish things and get more of what you want out of life. This includes figuring out how to operate your life in a responsible manner, how to reason without distorting reality and without fooling yourself, and how to accurately weigh probabilities so that you know the most likely outcome to expect in situations you come across.
On the flip side, feminine energy is explained as:
If you have a strong feminine side, you often behave in ways that are considered feminine in nature. You do things that you have to be giving and unselfish in order to do. This includes recognizing people’s basic human rights and allowing them to operate their life without interfering with those rights. For example, allowing them the freedom to operate independently, and the freedom to fit into society wherever and however they want, even the freedom to let people choose when to face up to reality and when to be in denial. Allowing people their basic rights includes letting them control their own life, letting them choose what to believe without being manipulated by you, and letting them choose their own path or direction in life without hindrance from you. The feminine side also includes having an enthusiasm and zest for life, and recognizing what things are worth getting enthusiastic about. And it includes having the persistence and tenacity to stay with something until it is finished, while still knowing when to give up on it if your energy is better used elsewhere. In addition, the feminine side also includes being kind, compassionate, patient, responsive to the needs of others, and it includes the ability to limit the amount of energy you put into helping people, to keep from hurting yourself or draining your own energy.
THE ISSUE THAT SPARKED MY CURIOSITY
I had a client earlier this year who proved to be rather challenging in many ways. The resistance she felt to any actions that were deemed ‘masculine’ were incredibly strong.
They didn’t ‘feel’ right.
This saw her resist fine tuning her niche. It saw her resist any form of strategy and forward planning. Her biggest challenge was that she tied her whole identity to her business. She wanted to be more than just a leader on one specific area – she wanted to be a full Joan of all trades in health and wellness.
I guided her towards the benefits of focusing on a specific area. The evidence is overwhelming and I personally have seen the incredible boosts it has done for my business to focus on a specific niche. I encouraged her to focus on a specific problem she will solve for her clients – one that she knew firsthand and had a wealth of experience in managing.
Her resistance grew: ‘I don’t want to focus on a problem, I want to focus on the positive, I want to help people.’
We all do girl, we all do.
Yet good ol’ humans naturally deviate towards a solution that fixes a problem, rather than something that will elevate pleasure. Business is really about understanding human behaviour, who are we to fight against it?
I continued to gently (though at times, quite bluntly) guide her towards the necessary actions she needed to take.
She continued to refuse.
To this day I see she still hasn’t refined her offering. As a consumer, I have no idea why I would need to use her services. Sure, she’s passionate and has many excellent qualities but I’m too confused about what she would do for me. Or if she’s the right fit for me. It’s all too… murky. It really highlights how important it is to be crystal clear on what and who you are serving. Because if you’re not, we’re not.
But I’m going off on a tangent here. What really happened is that her resistance to any form of strategic planning, what many would dub to be ‘masculine’, was causing a significant negative impact. This experience and many more has really shown me firsthand how too much reliance on our gut feeling can be counter-intuitive. More questions came up for me:
Is it gut feeling or fear masquerading as a gut feeling?
If so, how do we distinguish between the two?
WHY MUST WE RESIST?
I’m a big believer that any area of resistance is an area you most likely need to tackle head on.
Resistance is where the break through happens.
Is this why we resist the more masculine, emotion-free behaviour in business? Is it because we subconsciously know that if we do it, we’re most likely going to receive the success we’re working for in the first place? Is it just another mind game we trick ourselves into?
Or vice versa, do we ignore the gut feeling because we don’t understand it? Are we too pressured to follow the ‘rules’ that we can’t hear the warning cries from our intuition? Does a lack of emotional awareness, of ourselves and others, steer us towards a dry, passion-free business that will burn us out?
Another client of mine recently turned her breakdown into a breakthrough. She acknowledged that she was avoiding taking the necessary action towards building her business as her fear of failure was crushing her soul. She was playing out a strategy of taking on more alternative work instead of doing what she needed to do to build her business. A startling moment of clarity allowed her to see what was happening: she was avoiding her Why. She was leaning too far into the masculine end of the spectrum – focusing heavily on the ‘whats’ and creating reasons her business can’t possibly be successful in which her brain deemed ‘logical’. Too much critiquing, not enough passion.
We start to see (and experience) success when we face those growing pains. Success is by nature, a word based on a feeling. We’re not successful when we reach our goals, we’re successful when we feel we are successful. Ask any uber-rich business person if they feel successful and most of them will tell you they don’t. They’re rolling in money yet they keep wanting more? It’s not because they are greedy (sure, some are but let’s try not to judge) but because they are constantly looking to improve on themselves. They’ve also most likely lost sight of their Why and probably can’t articulate what their gut is telling them (yep, assuming here but stay with me). But my point is this:
The feeling of success generally derives from being better than we were yesterday.
Pushing ourselves to develop and grow is human nature. It hurts but it’s deeply rewarding. Of course we all have unique definitions of success – and we should honour that. But I’m willing to argue that all of us, at some degree, are trying to be a better person than we were yesterday.
I’ve found that when you are swinging towards one end of the ‘genderised’ energy spectrum, you most likely need to push through the resistance towards the other end. It pays to follow your gut and say no (that’s resistance) and it also pays to follow with your head even when it’s putting up a fight (also resistance). There’s resistance at each end the spectrum – there’s never a black or white moment. No situation is. Business certainly isn’t and energy certainly isn’t.
WHY IS ENERGY ‘GENDERISED’ ANYWAY?
It kind of boggles me that energy is genderised in the first place. My inner feminism has been growing stronger over the last 6 months and as I become more aware of gender issues, I become more sensitive to anything that defines the genders.
I no longer see it as masculine vs feminine any more – I prefer to term them stoic vs intuitive instead.
But deeper issues aside, we shouldn’t have to debate the two. We should be embracing the benefits of both – and the limitations of both. This reminds me of Lisa Messenger’s (here I go quoting Lisa again…) quote:
You can be soft and successful, a traditionalist and a rebel, a longer and a fighter, vulnerable and invincible
It’s not an ‘either, or’. It’s a dance between both.
MASTERING THE FLOW
Our roles in business is not to be either masculine or feminine – it’s to create a lasting change in people’s lives that also supports ours on both monetary and personal planes. We cannot create change without money.
Leaning towards either end of the energy spectrum isn’t the answer. It’s flowing in between the two – being diligent, critical and ruthless when we need to and following our instinct and mastering our emotional intelligence when called.
To be too ruthless is to be cash-rich but morally poor. To be too feminine is to be cash poor but morally rich.
We can’t change the world, or our world, without a good dose of cash and morality. My takeaway is this: embrace both sides.
As I said before, nothing is ever black and white. Not in one moment, not over a period of time. Learning to master the flow (and not balance) is key to managing this wild, crazy ride we call entrepreneurship.
As I can’t possibly write a blog post without some sort of ‘how to’ advice, I leave you with this:
- Question your resistance when it arises: is it really a gut feeling, or are you afraid of what success you will achieve?
- Create ways to add femininity to the masculine: so you need to spend some time being strategic and plan your financial goals. Create the process of doing it with your feminine touch.
- Provide time to work on an area you are resisting the most: what you really want is most likely on the other side.
- Never lose attachment to your Why: your gut will tell you when you deviate but please, no matter what you do, keep your Why at the forefront of your mind.
Over to you: how do you manage opposing energies in business? Do you levitate towards one end of the spectrum? How does this impact on the success of your business?
Leave your comment below. It’s time to get this conversation started.
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