by Susan Bishop, Guest Host on WomanTalk Live 05/05/12
Since before my 20s, I’ve longed for what I term the “Star Trek World.” For those of you familiar with that show – specifically Next Generation – you know exactly what I mean. For those of you who aren’t, Star Trek Next Generation painted an inspiring picture of what organizational culture could be – a space for creativity; time for reflection; care of self; acceptance and honoring of others – and, especially, acceptance and honoring of what we in the U.S. refer to as traditionally female traits: Empathy, Receiving, Openness and much more.
And just a HUGE SIDE NOTE HERE that Feminine/Masculine are just easy ways to categorize traits – yin/yang is another – and these traits are in ALL OF US – men and women. HISTORICALLY, though, “masculine” traits were thought to be the most effective for productivity, profit and success at work – and that the “feminine” side of each of us needed to be kept in check.
Anyway, this past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of interviewing three women who are making my Star Trek World a reality in the workplace: Amy Bloom Connolly, Jodi Hume and Beth Terrence. I’ve known each of these women for quite some time, so I knew going into the show that they were involved in amazing work that was transforming organizations and that their work was part of a larger effort and movement in our country to honor and even accentuate “feminine” traits in organizations for the purpose of greater effectiveness and success. From practices such as Talking Circles and Mindfulness and to concepts like Emotional Intelligence and Peace-Making, organizations everywhere are recognizing the value of the “female” side of the equation and making a shift to a wholly new way of leading and working together – one in which wholeness and humanity are highly honored and in which we can all be more fulfilled and engaged.
What I did not realize before the interview was how incredibly far organizations have come since I first became interested in this topic. When Amy Connolly gave her list of where Mindfulness is being taught and practiced in the working world, I nearly fell off my chair. If the U.S. Army has found value in reflection, receptivity, taking our time, then, well, my Star Trek World is more than well on its way to becoming a reality – it happening RIGHT NOW. In fact, when I asked directly, “Why now? What has made organizations finally open their eyes to the power of the “feminine?” Jodi Hume’s response further verified that this new thinking is not just some woo-woo idea being forwarded and adopted by “granola-y” experts in California, it’s everywhere because we now have the science to back it up. So while I went in thinking how difficult it might be for organizations to adopt practices such as those Beth Terrence shared (which as she stated are designed to enable wholeness and authenticity for individuals, as well as for the organization overall), I left understanding that, very soon, the only people on the fringe will those organizational leaders who refuse to budge from the old model.
I’m never going to do justice to all my three guests shared on Saturday’s show in this post – and I don’t want to slaughter what they said. I encourage anyone who missed the show to check out the podcast as soon as it goes up. If you’ve ever felt that there is something just not right about the way we work – if you’ve ever longed for a Star Trek World - I think listening will leave you as inspired as I am. And if you are one of those people who knew it was already here, I think you’re going to be interested in some of the studies, books and resources mentioned on the show.
I’m starting this work week heartened by how open to change the world is. Anyone going to work today who thinks their organization is stuck in dysfunction can be assured that thought leaders like my guests are doing more than talking. They have taken action – perhaps action that’s coming soon to a workplace near you.