The unlikely mentors that shaped my success as a woman

Dominant men. 

Did something inside you get triggered when you read that? If it did; you might have the potential to massively grow your confidence and success.

* * *

I know, because I used to be allergic to them.
I used to feel huge inner resistance towards them. 
Yet – I used to attract them like bees to honey.

During the first decade of my career as a consultant, I dealt with dominant men in all shapes and forms. And, I deployed all possible strategies to get rid of them: 

  • Hiding. 
  • Shrinking myself. 
  • Pleasing them. 
  • Compromising myself. 
  • Quitting.. 
  • Forcing. 
  • Working harder. 
  • Trying to be more dominant than them. 
  • Working even harder. 
  • Burning out.

But no matter what I did, they always seemed to swing right back to my doorstep – just in a somewhat different shape. And it wasn’t until I had truly had enough – that I began to see and heal the harder truths that were underneath: 

  • No one can patronize you, if you are unwilling to shrink. 
  • No one can force you to do anything, if you give them a simple no. 
  • No one can manipulate you, if you know and honor what you want. 

Which of course, does not give anyone a license to treat you like dirt. But it does give you the power to do something about it.

If you feel dominated by someone; chances are you are not fully owning your value, decisions or self-worth. Not an easy truth to swallow, I know. But what’s even harder to swallow, is that for many women (including myself) who do get to this point, something even worse happens.

“It’s time you toughen up” , they’re told.

So, they toughen up. They thicken their skin. They harden their edges. And…they try to become like them. And it breaks my heart. 

Whoever fights [something] should see to it, that in the process of fighting, he does not become [that which he is fighting]. 

Adapted from Nietzsche

When you fight dominance with dominance, well…
You get the point. You become what you hate, instead of who you are.

And the world will certainly not get any better, when women toughen up.

I believe the crucial role of women at this point in time, is rather the opposite. I believe women have a key role in transforming our business and our world – not by turning into men, but by fully becoming and owning themselves, as women. To lead the way, and show:

  • How to be vulnerable and strong, simultaneously
  • How intuition and ratio create the best decisions, combined. 
  • How caring about others, doing what our heart tells us and making money, go together, quite powerfully.

Just like men have their role and responsibility in the transition we are in, we need to take ours as women.

But we can only do out part, when we dare to be and show who we truly are. When we dare to let go of conventions and hierarchies. When we let go of playing by the rules that have been made by generations past. When we tap into our strength, from the inside out.

And when I look back, those who have taught me most about my inner strength as a woman – have strangely enough been dominant men. Sometimes in the most horrid of ways, sometimes in the most conscious and kind of ways.

They pushed me. 
They tested my boundaries.
They crossed them.
They made me redefine them.
They helped me fail.
They helped me see. 
That the only way to be successful, the only way to contribute to change – is to be, fully and unapologetically…me

So I am grateful for the ‘dominant men’ on my path today, and the ones that have been there in the past – even if it was hard.

So please, please, women: don’t shun away from dominant men, nor become like them. Use them. Not in the negative sense of the word. But use them to become more of yourself. Use them to see yourself more clearly, to get to know and let go of your fears, to sharpen your blade, to brighten your light. Use them to fall and get back up again, vulnerable – strong.

And, whenever you’re ready…show them another way.
Not because it’s better than theirs.

But because you’ve come to realize, that this is not about men being better than women, or women being better than men. It is about learning to leverage each other’s strengths, and being humble enough to learn from each other.

Only this way we all win.

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