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Welcome to Woman Up

I’m not a fan of sweeping generalisations, particularly when we are referring to people, and I am loathe to box people into stereotypes. So I am, consciously aware, never to do this. Always holding back my assumptions and perceptions in favour of understanding others more. However, sometimes we must gather people together into groups to target them and focus on their specific needs.

Much like in advertising. If you seek to reach everyone with one message, chances are you will appeal to no one. I am therefore open to working with the fact that grouping people, generalising if you like, has been happening for centuries and not all of it bad. Sometimes it is needed.

Of course, we know every single person is unique. An identical twin has their own individual personality, which could lead to colouring their hair, piercing and tattoos. From the moment they are born, they form differences from their identical sibling. I read the other day that our fingerprints are created by the imprint formed from within the womb which is why they are all completely different. I can’t verify if Science UCSB are right, but I love the theory.

I recently completed a systemic coaching programme designed by John Whittington. Based on John’s book Systemic Coaching Constellations

John uses a peacock as a metaphor to help you visualise how many ‘systems’ an individual has interwoven into them. The peacock is of course, the person you see on the outside, but the tail is their systemic map. Each eye of the tail a different system in their life. Their family of origin, primary school friends, secondary school friends, first job, neighbours – you get it. All different relationship interactions weaving into a person’s personality, behaviours, values and beliefs.

I love this image, and the message for us to follow. Just pause…… and seek out the fabulously intricate peacock tail that sits behind others. Don’t assume you are the same as them or even completely different. Don’t jump in with your advice monster or opinions, you cannot not possibly know everything that has shaped them along their journey to where they are now.

Consider for a moment all those different systems this peacock has been involved in. Who and what has moulded them? What have they experienced to form their beliefs and values…...? If we can all do this, we can all start to understand each other better. We are all very, very complicated and different and similar at the same time. Empathy grows.

That said, as a female with 25 years in the financial industry, only now in my late forties, do I truly understand why we need to focus more on driving gender balance and supporting women to progress. This is not just a male problem to fix, this is for all of us to work on, and now.

With the horrendous judgements cast upon on Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister this last week, I love that hundreds of women have posted their own ‘party videos’ in #solodaritywithsanna This is not about her being Prime Minster, this is about her being, as one paper condescendingly put it "lacking in judgement" for continuing to have a social life despite her job. I was once told something similar by a man at work after he saw my wrist tattoo.

"Claire, I don't dislike your tattoo, but I do think is shows you have a lack of judgement" - Wow, I didn't know how to respond at the time, I do now.

This generalisation of women is sweeping, and I'm ok with this. We have all witnessed the evidence.

More women work part-time than men, more women are stay at home parents, more women expect someone to tell them when they are doing a good job, and when to go for promotion. More women put everyone else’s needs before their own. More women are paid less than men, more women are self-conscious about their bodies, and so more women undergo plastic surgery. More women find being assertive challenging. Women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings, more women find themselves acting as "scroll" in team meetings, so they feel they at least have a role if not a voice. And most importantly more women feel guilty for not being good enough at anything they do or worthy to step up and promote themselves.

And all that is before we get into menstrual cycles, pregnancies, leaky breasts and then the cherry on the cake……menopause.

Therefore, for the next six months I shall be generalising, heavily. It’s time for me to pass it forward and bring a focus on women empowerment coaching. I’m no expert, and I certainly don’t know what each woman is going through, but as a coach I don’t need to. I only need to create a space to encourage women to do it for themselves.

I am excited to share therefore, that I'll be hosting free coaching workshops from my Woman Up Series at Valerie’s Wine Bar. These are face to face workshops (and I hear everyone will get a free glass of fizz on arrival)

Ladies, if you are a Kent based and fancy an impactful, loving boot on a night out, come along. The first workshop isBe fabulous you, without the guilt” on 21st September 7:30-9:30pm.

For the rest of you, I will let you know how we get on in my monthly blogs and share a few tips and tools for you too. But for now, welcome to the Woman Up Series. Strap yourselves in ladies, these tools and techniques will help you get control of your life, bring a comfortable confidence to speaking up, and empower you to be you....without the guilt.

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