This week, ANOTHER MOTHER asked the question What do you know now that you wish you'd known twenty years ago? Ten women in entrepreneurship meet every twelve weeks to support each other through business and life. They present their challenges and hold each other accountable for self care, growth and development. This ain't no spa break. Six of these women sat in a room and answered the question above. Their agency and authority is wisdom, intelligence, generosity, age and experience.
I wish I had followed my intuition... I should always follow my intuition. And the moments, the times that I didn't, and times when there's a big decision to be made, I know immediately afterwards, I should have followed my intuition, believed in myself, and what my inner knowledge knew.
I'm going to ask you a question now, because I know of the benefit of knowing that this has happened. So, I think you believe yourself to be more powerful now than you used to be.
Absolutely, because, I do follow my intuition. But I suppose that having the experience accentuated the fact that I decided that I do need to follow my intuition. So, in a way, it was a learning situation. Maybe if I hadn't experienced it, it wouldn't been so powerful. And, no, I mustn't forget, this is what I feel, this is what I think, and I should follow that.
So, you kind of earned the right?
ANOTHER MOTHER ... to have that power?
And, I had the power, but in the past, I didn't follow it. So, it was a valuable mistake, because it accentuated my belief system in my inner knowledge.
Joan Baker: I'd really echo that and I'd have said that if she hadn't said it.
And now you have to think of another one.
Well I do, but what I heard Birgitta say was she would trust her intuition better. And the times that I would say I've really got it wrong, looking back, I actually knew the right answer. Like, I knew what I knew, and I talked myself out of it. I don't think intuition works around everything, but I think if you know yourself well enough, you know. I overrode that on a number of issues over the years, and I don't anymore when I know that I know, even if I haven't found the evidence yet. I just know that I know. And I think that's not a confidence thing as much as actually I've learned that there's something real there… If I had to add to that so that I'm saying something different, I'd like to address how we value our unconscious competencies, the things that we're really good at without even trying. What, to the individual that has the competence, is the sheer bloody obvious! For me that has always been process, creating efficiencies and making the hard things easy. On the most basic level it's like 'Why would you set the kitchen up like that?' Because that means actually you've got to have 17 different movements here to make breakfast when you could do it in three if you just organized differently. Like stuff that's kind of, you think that's blindingly obvious, but it's only blindingly obvious to the person with the skill. You do it almost automatically, but you don't even know that it or that it's a competence and it's a blind space to everybody else. Another Mother: And how do you manage that then with other people, if you have an unconscious competence that you are now aware of? Joan Baker: Whatever your unconscious competence is, can become a trigger for you if it isn't there in other people. You can misinterpret the lack of it as being wilfully difficult. It's the stuff you end up not making explicit when it actually needs to be. And so by virtue of the fact that it's an unconscious competence, you almost find it more difficult to communicate…
I wish I'd known 20 years ago is that there are many forms of intelligence and the skills and gifts I have that didn’t fit the criteria being assess at school would be the very skills and gifts that would one day make me a successful entrepreneur. Despite what our education system implies and is founded upon, academic intelligence isn't actually what you need to succeed in life in many cases. I wish I’d known that it’s not all about IQ and that EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is as important, if not more important. In education we are led down a singular path and what your teachers, parents or your peers say is good or intelligent is, for the most part, only based on a narrow context. If the way your brain is wired doesn’t fall within that context then it can easily form limiting beliefs about what you can and can't achieve that then become barriers to success. These are unconscious barriers in some cases, which makes them more difficult to surface and manage. I’ve subsequently realised that everyone is just winging it and trying to work it out the best they can. No one has all the answers. It's very easy to think that that someone who might appear more intelligent has got it all squared away when actually they're just frantically trying to work it all out too, so give yourself a break.
I wish I'd completely understood the value of the basics. Drinking water, eating the right food, exercising, minding your mind, sleep. I didn't get that until I was in my late thirties. I wish I hadn't been so afraid of not getting everything right. So embracing failure is a great lesson. I fail all the time at the moment, often daily, because I'm reaching hard and pushing myself. But I know just to lean in and enjoy it, enjoy the ride, because I actually get much further when I can do that. The trick is to pick myself up really quickly from the falls, pick myself up, learn and do it better. Another learning in my thirties was to work smarter not harder. It's all about the “strategic levers” you pull, not the putting your head down and just working really hard at everything all the time. And another: management is very different to leadership. I had no idea of that in my twenties or thirties. I thought it was all about management (doing the right things in the right way at the right time) rather than about leading myself well and leading other people well, that is having positive influence so people want to follow me, and I didn't understand the nuances between the two. Nearly finished! Personal growth is the magic sauce. I probably didn't pick up a book from when I finished college and when I was 22 until I was about 35 maybe and so I didn't do any real personal growth and I missed out hugely by doing that and enjoying the abundance of continuous learning. Something that I only learned when I got pneumonia in 2012 was to enjoy all the little stuff around me – the simple abundance. That was a big learning. What I now know is that everyone has value. Amazing value. No one is better than anyone else. No personality type is better than any other, everyone matters. I'm abundantly aware of that. I wasn't as aware of it when I was younger and I think this is so, so important. It is really important to value everyone and it’s a key element of leading myself and others well. Finally, I was brought up to tell the truth as most of us are. However, we mustn’t forget the importance of compassion and empathy when telling the truth – otherwise the truth can be very hard and cruel. For me it's about always trying to get better.
What we need to remember when talking about getting better is that we must also accept that we are good enough. When many people talk about getting better, they're operating out of a deficit model, an awful lot of personal development and training is about fixing what's wrong with you rather than saying, I'm good at this and I'm going to be better. And it's a completely different mindset. So much of what goes wrong with performance reviews and even evaluation within a relationship or a family is the deficit model, focusing on the negative rather than the positive.
That's what people often do in coaching they say, 'I'm not good at X. kind of can you fix it?' We might bring 'X' up to tolerable level, but you never going to be good at it because it's probably a defined weakness. So if it's a flaw, let's get it above the line, but let's stop there. But what about things you're good at? Let's make them super. Then you're coming out of a deficit model into a strengths model.
Of course everybody said all the really good stuff!
It can be your version of what everyone else said.
Well, there's a couple of things. One, I wish I had known how brilliant having kids was because I think I would've had more earlier and I think actually I would have been more prepared for it too. I wish someone had told me about the menopause and what was to be ahead on and be real about it! Why did no-one tell me how impactful it was going to be on every aspect of my life. And I wish I had known 20 years ago that there's no such thing as a single truth, that everybody's truth is subjective, that there's no right way or wrong way. There's just the way that you decide to do a thing, how you process it internally and how you present it to the world. Therefore, you don't need to put yourself under enormous pressure in to fulfil someone else's version of your truth.
Special Thanks to the following for sharing their collective wisdom
Joan Baker, The Leadership Academy
Joanne Hession, Founder LIFT Ireland
Birgitta Curtin, Founder The Burren Smokehouse
Jane Kelly, Creative Director Big Mountain Productions