The Heroine’s Journey Continues: Dragons and Crowns

M. Nora Klaver Posted by M. Nora Klaver, Executive Coach, Bouchard Executive Coaching Ltd..

Nora is an accomplished executive coach with 25 years of experience developing corporate leaders. She is the author of Mayday! Asking For Help In Times of Need.


The Heroine’s Journey Continues: Dragons and Crowns

This is the third in a series on the journey taken by many women in the tech world toward a life of fulfillment, satisfaction and balance. To catch up, click here: www.mnorabouchard.com.

When I was promoted to manager years ago, the consulting firm I worked for sent a formal letter to my parents informing them of my accomplishment. (I can’t imagine an organization doing that now; seems an overstep of privacy.) I had no idea it was done until I got a call from my father telling me how proud he was.

I was pleased that he was pleased. I had always worked hard. And because I was “Daddy’s Little Girl” much of my drive came from a desire to please him; to make him proud.

Like most women, I joined an organization that was created by men and led by men. The culture had been set by men. This is not a bad thing. Men have created wonderful things for the benefit of all of us. And the fact is that most women have joined men in companies populated mostly by men. Young or mature, these organizations reflect the norms advocated for and by men. Good thing, too. These masculine behaviors and values have enabled and fostered success.

What do we mean by masculine and feminine behaviors? Here’s a list:

Masc:Fem.001

For any Enterprise to succeed, masculine qualities need to be present. Without them, there is no growth, no advancement, no risk. However, studies now indicate that Gender Diversity adds to the long-term sustainability of success for that Enterprise — especially if there are women at the top levels.

Yet, in many organizations, the masculine qualities are the ones that are still celebrated and encouraged. (Check out this Washington Post article on how women economists can be discriminated against when they don’t publish on their own. Being independent is considered a masculine behavior while being collaborative is considered a much more feminine behavior.)

I admit to having overdone it. In my younger years, it was important for me to be included; to be a member of the team. No one had asked me to do this, but I downplayed any feminine qualities I might have owned naturally. And I was rewarded for it.

On my own Heroine’s Journey, I had moved from the early stages to the point of Enduring Trials.  This was a period that lasted years; where I had opportunities to prove myself again and again to the men I worked with. I worked in an industry where female leaders were few and far between — just like so many of the women in technology that I serve. So, yes, I was working to make the men around me proud — just like I had done for my Dad.

The Enduring Trials phase is a time of challenge and growth. A time to apply and even perfect the masculine behaviors needed to achieve success. I armored myself with a (male) mentor, and I used logic to defend my positions. I adopted an aggressive demeanor that showed I meant “business.” I developed confidence with each new level of success. I became increasingly tough and competitive.

Adopting these behaviors, I moved into the stage of Enjoying Success. Because of my hard work and my tough persona, I won more than a few golden crowns. I was given a team, high visibility projects and then, eventually promoted. I earned raises and opportunities to travel globally. I enjoyed these rewards and became motivated to garner more of them. I’m not sure I fully appreciated the rarity of these rewards; I may have felt entitled to them. After all, I had given up a lot in order to gain them.

Years later, I perceived I had traded an essential part of myself for those golden crowns. I had let go of my feminine values. In keeping my tough person alive, I had lost my compassion for others, sensitivity, and innocence. I had forgotten how lovely it is to rely on others, to be part of a team rather than the leader of a team. I had forgotten how to relax and to enjoy what I was doing.

After leaving the corporate world to open my own business, I remember a feeling of loss and of being lost. About six weeks after I left the large company that had been so good to me, I found myself sobbing for two days — for no specific reason. It wasn’t until the tears had dried that I realized it was because my body had been running at a furious pace. It became clear that I no longer needed to “play the game.” I could set my own terms. I was creating a new way of being in the world. I was waking up.

If you’d like to learn more about your own journey, or the journeys of those around you, reach out. We are happy to help! www.mnorabouchard.com

If you are playing catch up, here is The Heroine’s Journey Model, based on the work by Maureen Murdock.

THJ Model.001

M. Nora Bouchard, MA, PCC is a seasoned and deeply experienced executive coach. Over the last 20 years, Nora has guided men and women leaders in the tech industry. She appreciates the analytical mindset and is profoundly familiar with its light and dark sides. Nora is author of the ground-breaking book, Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. With over 10,000 hours of coaching, and hundreds of hours facilitating learning events, Nora can help you find your success. www.mnorabouchard.com.

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