We have the habit of overestimating the life shit that comes our way.
And underestimating the power and influence we believe we already have.
This was the hard truth that I was told yesterday by one of the world’s leading experts on mindset and women’s leadership.
As Ambassador for The Hunger Project and leader of the Unleashed Women movement here in the UK, I had the honour of interviewing Cathy Burke, who has a 20+ year history with the charity, previously Country Director of Australia and then Global VP, and now Global Ambassador.
Along with asking her about her work with The Hunger Project, I also wanted to know her thoughts on why so many midlife women drop out of leadership and professional careers. With everything I do, my overriding mission is for the empowerment of women to ensure more women in their 50’s, 60’s and beyond are in positions of power to influence our economic, political and social infrastructures and outcomes.
So I asked for her thoughts on the matter.
There was much she shared on this, which I will share more about in the future, but what hit me hardest was this truth (and yes, this her truth … not THE truth) that many women have a habit of overestimating the shit and problems that we have to deal with, whilst at the same time underestimating how much power and influence we already have.
Wow! Is it really possible that we make too much of the things that drag us out of positions of power, leadership and influence?
I get the second part about not believing in the power that we already have within us to step up and make the difference. How many times have we felt lonely, forgotten, ignored, belittled by what someone has said to us or pulled back because we felt others were so much better than us? I know I have.
But to be told that I may be over-egging my life shit stuff?
Now I know this will be triggering to so many of us – me included! I have had to deal with a growing family, a chronic health crisis in my 40’s and in more recent years, eldercare responsibilities.
Have I really made too much of this over the years?
But as I reflected, I saw that this is not about the actual shit we have to deal with that’s important here, because yes there are so pretty BIG shitty things that happen in life. It’s the how, when and where we choose to focus our time, energy and attention moving through them. Or as Jo Blackwell, Founder of The Midlife Movement, commented on my piece on this on LinkedIn yesterday … it’s the “times when you overestimated the emotional energy needed to deal with it.”
Because yes, I am a white, privileged female who is well aware of all the amazing support and access to resources she has in her life. And when put into context of what so many others have to contend with, and our huge global problems, I can see that yes, I have absolutely overestimated the amount of emotion and energy I needed to deal with life shit at times.
This plays out as having way too many hours of worry, and sometimes sleepless nights on things that aren’t so bad when put in the context of what’s happening in the world. These times have not only taken my attention away from projects that needed with my time, attention and leadership, but also sucked me dry, often leading me to further health complications and my burn out symptoms returning, and left me with little for anything else, let alone my desire to make a difference in this world.
I don’t write this as a preach, or even pretend that a lot of life shit is not really shit, but I do wonder if you recognise times when you overestimated the emotional energy needed to deal with life shit.
And yes, there is the caveat that there are times that we absolutely need to take time out, to rest and recover and be with the people – or even ourselves – at certain times in our lives. But … and this is a BIG BUT … if there is a burning desire in you to step up, to up level your business and your leadership, or to contribute to something far bigger than you, then this overestimating habit can no doubt pull us back from our potential to make a bigger difference.
I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment below with your perspective on this and what this throws up for you.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.