Put your shoulders back, chin up, and command your space.
I’ve told this story more than a few times and now I want to share it with you. We, women, need to command the spaces that we occupy. Leadership for us does not look at all like the masculine model, which is all about
- physical prowess,
- might makes right,
- being intimidating.
Instead, commanding our environment with feminine power looks and feels like
- being your True Self,
- being inclusive (It’s not you versus other people),
- being clear about your path and your identity and your importance in the world,
- and exuding confidence.
For many years, I was an organizational development consultant and a trainer. Sometimes, my job was to create and give workshops for college professors. I am an African American woman, about 5 feet tall, not skinny but not bulky either. My clients were mostly white males of various ages. Old or young though they saw themselves as the rightful owners of every space. Who was I to be trying to teach them anything?
I was super aware of the social expectations but I was not interested in bending my head to anyone.
I anticipated their arrogance. More importantly, I anticipated their willingness to tank my performance as a trainer. A bad review of my work would have been just an afternoon’s amusement for some of them. Furthermore, those white men were likely to collude with each other to back up any claims of how badly I taught. Not my imagination. I’ve experienced the same several times but survived.
Well, back in the classroom, my strategy began with greeting my clients at the door. I was smiling and genuinely welcoming. I felt good. Why not? It was my classroom. I was doing what I love. I enjoy teaching. I smiled and smiled and greeted each man warmly.
The younger prospective troublemakers felt found out. I saw it in their eyes: “oh, no, she sees me.” Yes, I did.
From there I ran a tight, easy-to-follow agenda. I love class engagement so letting others speak is a good thing in my classes.
I set a friendly yet firm, no nonsense tone for my class and most people were happy enough to participate. The possible bad boys sat in silence and that was okay with me.
It is an old truism that if you give people room to behave badly they will. So, my counsel to you is you take up the space rather than leave it to others to control. Enjoy commanding your space. Can you imagine how difficult it might have been for me to try to wrestle back control over my classroom if I had allowed any one of them to act out first?
Command means swell with joy and pride and just the full truth of who you are. Let people respond to your full, rich energy even before you’ve said a word. Find your power and draw from it as needed. Believe me, it feels great. The cream on your day is, of course, experiencing respect from others. People will arrange themselves around your energy field. Here’s a hint: in the physical sense your power comes from your mid-section, not from your head so always pull your attention down into your body the same as dancers and fighters know how to do. Swell with joy. You’ll find yourself effortlessly connecting to Spirit and the Universe’s vast energy. You can do it. Own your space.
© 2021 Aisha-Sky Gates and Elevate Women Collaborative