The Importance of Recognizing and Owning Your Power

Death-defying roller coasters, swimming with sharks, skydiving, running with the bulls of Pamplona:  child’s play.  All of them.  When compared with a woman figuring out—maybe for the first time in her life—how powerful she really is nothing even comes close to that thrill.  I know because I’ve seen it happen.

As women, being a good friend in large part requires us to be unofficial therapist/life coach/secret keeper.  In a good friendship it’s a two way street, so you are getting as much as you are giving.  Most of the time being a good friend means performing these jobs simply to keep your friend on track and grounded.  Sometimes though, being privy to your friend’s weakest moments and biggest uncertainties gives you a front seat as you witness your friend taking her life to a whole new level.  And that, ladies, is nothing short of miraculous.

Recently I’ve had this happen to two of my friends and I have to tell you I’m glad it happened more than once.  Because the first time it happened I thought to myself, “am I just geeking out for no reason?” Then the second time it happened I was like, “Hell no!  I have seen this go down already and it is freaking crazy awesome!”

My first friend to level up, is someone I’ve known for a few years through our work.  She and I are young(ish) women in a field dominated by older men.  So naturally, when our paths crossed at industry conferences or events we gravitated toward each other.  Turned out we both have young children, supportive husbands, and we each work on a teams that are similarly structured.  Plus it turns out she was a bad-ass, so of course we were meant to be lifelong friends.  On a recent call she opened up to me about wanting to ask her current business partner, a man who was a bit older than her, to split new business 50-50 rather than the current split which was less favorable to her.  I sat back and listened as she explained to me all the reasons this new partnership split was fair:  she was just as knowledgeable, just as hard-working, just as responsible for recruiting and retaining clients, and she felt deeply that she deserved it.  While recognizing all of that is important, it isn’t nearly as important as her fervent and unshakable certainty that she deserved to be equal.  Her commitment to her equality came through in each word she spoke.  The hair on my arms stood up on end, I got a lump in my throat, and I felt slightly light headed.  I was bearing witness to a woman declaring her value to me, to her, to the world and it was mind-blowing.

A few weeks later I met one of my friends who had recently been divorced out for drinks.  Outwardly she is a smart, successful, beautiful business woman.  But years of being married to the wrong man had taken its toll.  Their marriage dynamics had taught her not to trust herself.  Now that she was on her own, the burden of feeling incapable was becoming unbearable.  It came to a head on this particular evening.  From the moment she arrived I could feel her anxiety radiating off of her in waves.  She was wound up tighter than a drum.  The source of her anxiety was dispensing of the martial home.  She had listed her home for sale and just had received an offer below asking price. She emotionally and verbally melted down for a half hour while I watched silently sipping my wine (thank God for wine).  She was angry with the low offer, mad about feeling bullied by the other real estate agent, swore she’d never leave her house if she had to compromise on the price, but yet she claimed to be desperate to leave that chapter of her life and move onto the next.  I’m not gonna lie, she scared me a little bit.   It’s hard to reason with crazy.

The next morning I called to check up on her, bracing myself for the worst.  Instead I thought for a few moments that I must have dialed the wrong number.  The woman who answered the phone had been transformed.  In a clear, authoritative voice she explained how she was ready to let go of her house.  That she was going to negotiate the best deal possible but she was going to make it happen.  What had seemed last night to be insurmountable deal breakers she now saw as the perfect opportunity to get what she needed to start her new life.  She shared with me her vision for her new life and the freedom she would have to create her own happiness.  Again goosebumps, choking up, and with tears in my eyes I told her how proud I was of her.

Mary Louise Alcott once said, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”  We all have it in us, this power to be our own captains.  Believe it for yourself, encourage it in your friends, teach it to your daughters. 

And yes, my friend is now equal partners in her practice and my other has her house under contract.  Because they believed.

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