Wish You Were Here
|Posted by Bradljohnson@yahoo.com on November 18, 2013 at 9:40 PM|
Brad is pleased to announce two new books will be launched within the next week or so. "My Art Workbook featuring Jon Gnagy" is an interactive guide to drawing better. He is thrilled to be working with the Gnagy family (the very first art instructer on TV) on this book. It will be available on Amazon along with "My Garden Planner" another interactive book his wife, Linda Ferry-Johnson has written with a bit of help from Brad. In the meantime Brad would like to share with you a speech he wrote for a lady in the Philippines. He would like your reaction to it .
Unlocking and unleashing a woman’s potential
Marianne Williamson once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that
we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask
ourselves-who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous ? Buy honestly, who are you to not
be so ?”
While being a wonderful and inspiring quote it does not contain the full truth of what keeps women from
reaching their full potential. Regardless of far you have come...regardless of where you end up, the
question will always remain. Have you done everything you could to unlock and unleash your full
potential ? It’s not just about WHAT you do, but also about who you become along the way. As you
journey through your business and personal life you can gain insights about your habits, beliefs, values,
life strategies and skills. Hopefully these insights will help you focus on the obstacles that are getting in
your way of reaching that potential. I am going to ask you some tough questions today, dispel some
myths, give you some valuable information and a bit of a roadmap to help you start that journey. First ,
ask yourself this:
Have you discovered your passion in life ?
Are you clear about your “ideal” life and are you currently pursuing the goals that will make that life
meaningful and satisfying ?
Have you learned how to understand and manage your emotions or are you being controlled by them ?
Have you resolved the internal conflicts that might prevent you from achieving what you really want ?
These are things you must consider.
Charlotte Beers said, “Only when a woman begins to understand who she is...from the inside out, can she
see where her mastery lies.”
Before we delve into some specifics, let’s get rid of some myths and untruths.
Myth #1 You have biological limits.
It is true that women are often defined by their bodies. Women are held to a different standard than men
when it comes to almost every aspect of physicality from weight to height to hair color. Women, for years
were, and to some extent still are, referred to as the “weaker sex”. If you were really weaker than men you
wouldn’t be able to endure childbirth. And that is the other myth that, even in this enlightened age, some
people say that women “naturally “ belong in the home. That we are designed to use our minds and bodies
for child-rearing and domestic tasks. This is not a limit, it is a stereotypical view of a cultural error.
Myth #2 You have a sociological limit.
Women are too often defined by their kinships or marriages. By who your father is or who you are
married to. Many people use that information to define you as a person. And when you do become a
mother why is there more “honor” to have a son rather than a daughter. More often than it should be,
whatever you do is likely to have been seen in relationship with your connections to family, where men
almost always get individual credit for their attainments. Again, this is also a cultural view handed down
Myth #3 You have psychological limits.
Women are often defined by these limits. They will call it “A woman’s intuition” as opposed to a man’s
“insight” or “she’s too emotional” instead of “his passion”. Women feel, men think. Our culture has
chosen a course in which we are portrayed as weak, passive...and dependent.
These myths have manifested themselves into the world most noticeably in religion, medicine,
psychiatry, history, politics, law and education. The women who have disavowed these myths have
become lawyers, or even judges rather than clerks...Doctors instead of nurses, politicians instead of
politicians wives...University professors instead of grade school teachers.
One amazing woman, who truly came a long way in unlocking her full potential also unleashed it on an
unsuspecting America. Her name was Virginia Claflin Woodhull. She had to overcome enormous
obstacles to do so. She was the seventh of ten children born to an illiterate mother and her father was a
con-man. At 11 she had had only three years of formal education when her parents pulled her out of
school after her father burned down their mill and tried to collect the insurance. The family was run out of
town. Victoria rose above this to become the first woman to run for President of the United States, in
1872...before women even had the right to vote. She was the first woman to start a newspaper and a
brokerage firm on Wall Street. She became a leader of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and helped them
gain the right to vote. In the early 1900’s women who married were bound into the unions with few
options to escape. Where divorce was possible and legal, it was scandalous for a woman and they were
often shunned by society. But, believing in every woman’s potential, Virginia concluded that woman
should have the right and the choice to leave an unbearable marriage. Even with the burden of being a
“free love” advocate, she believed in a monogamous relationship with the woman having the right to
choose who that would be with. She did all this because she knew who she was at her center and found a
way to grasp the opportunities to show the world that person.
Another woman who found her true potential in a most unusual way was Mayim Bialik. She was an
American actress who found quite a bit of stardom starring movies like “Beaches”, a Michael Jackson
music video and most notably as the star of the hit ‘80’s TV show “Blossom” She currently stars in the hit
American TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. But instead of being content with the Hollywood life she
sought out something that sprang from her belief that she had not tapped into her full potential. After
“Blossom” she took twelve years off and enrolled at UCLA and in 2008 received her Phd. in
Neuroscience. She also teamed with the Partners in Torah to promote awareness and retaining of the
Jewish culture and religion. She is also the spokesperson for the Holistic Mom’s Network.
An entire group of women found their potential at work but not by utilizing the factors we are discussing
here today. It sprang from the belief that what they offered was being taken for granted. In 1968 a group
of sewing machinists who worked for Ford Car Company in England, by creating car seat covers, went on
strike to demand equal pay for women. This was brought on by a regrading of their positions as “less
skilled” workers and a reduction in pay of 15% merely because they were women. The result of their
action became the Equal Pay Act of 1970 and quickly spread to similar legislation in other industrialized
Our last example is Melinda Gates. She stands in the shadow of her husband Bill Gates, one of the richest
and most successful men in the world. But rather being defined as “the wife of Bill Gates” she has
embraced that position to unleash her full potential. In her own right she has spearheaded the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation which has donated 24 billion dollars to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme
poverty and was named by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in 2006...2007...and 2006.
The 1970s were a crucial time in producing significant changes in attitudes toward women in Western
So, how much has changed since the so-called Women’s Liberation Movement ? Well, the truth is that
women have been a growing factor in the success of the US and other nation’s economies since the 1970s.
Women entering the US workforce have provided 25% of the Gross Domestic Product. But has that
brought more women into leadership and upper management roles ? In India, only about 25% of the
business leadership is comprised of women. In China, on the other hand, women comprise nearly 60% of
the business leadership. Unfortunately, the US has a “leaky” talent pipeline. As each level of management
rises more women are left behind. Even though 53% of new hires are women only 37% of manager
positions are given to women. Going up the ladder only 26% are promoted to vice presidents and senior
executives and only 14% rise to executive committees. That may be because 62% of women hold staff
jobs that do not lead a CEO role. Women hold only 2-3% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies.
By contrast, as of 2010, 60% of graduates across Asia, America and Europe are women. Why is this ?
We know that women-even women who are mothers retain strong convictions about their ability and
desire to advance. But when they look at the odds of doing so many decide to stay put and look for a job
elsewhere that will fulfill their ambition...or they seek a career outside large corporations, many to the
Non-Profit Sector. What do they see as their obstacles ?
Some are structural...they have lack of access to informal networks where they can make important
connections...a lack of female role models higher up both as contacts and mentors and a lack of sponsors
to provide opportunities...all of which many of their male colleagues have. Some are lifestyle issues.
Many women, especially mothers, express a concern of the “always on -24/7 executive lifestyle and travel
requirements. Interestingly enough, studies have found that now 50% of fathers with at least one child say
they will not accept a job that reduces their work/life balance while 55% of women without any children
say the same thing. Some obstacles are imbedded institutional mindsets. The old mantra of “you can’t put
a woman in that job” are echoed by both men and women managers. Many women are evaluated on
performance while men are promoted on “potential”. The last obstacle is within the female workforce
itself. Even though women remain highly confident of their qualifications, women are less satisfied than
men with their chosen career or job. And as they get older, women lose their desire to advance to the next
level more quickly than men. Time is against you then, it seems. As the barriers get larger your
determination to push against them diminishes.
But the good news is that of those women who make it into upper management, a greater portion of them
seek advancement ,31% compared to 16% of entry level women. They retain their ambition and
confidence and quickly acquire the skills and know-how to do so. They also have a better idea of what it
takes to advance. On top of this if companies could raise the number of middle management women who
make it to the next level by 25%, it would significantly alter the shape of that “leaky pipeline”. There
would be more women in a leadership role to help the advancement and mentor the ones who follow.
Comprehensive change is needed to meet this challenge. Getting people to think and act differently is one
of the most difficult management challenges. But it CAN be done. It is a corporate culture that must be
transformed. You can help transform it. The glass ceiling exists and more and more women must break it
visibly and “rock the boat” to make things change. Faith in yourself is a major turning point for
innovation and change. Women are traditionally stereotyped as collaborative consensus-builders...they
work within a group to get everyone on board and sometimes take a back seat. Nancy Thomas, Vice
President of IBM urges women to “learn when to stop consensus-building and start making decisions”.
There are now, many more talented women to choose from, and yet women still hold relatively few
positions of influence. Not every woman needs to make it the CEO level to make a difference, but if more
did they could make a world of difference to the ones who have been “leaked” out of the pipeline. Part of
the problem is that men at the top just don’t know how to appraise a woman’s potential. They do know
what it takes to fill a leadership do or die” attitude. This too is
An ability to motivate others.
It is easier for men to motivate other men because they know them better, they know what makes them
You will notice that these qualities are not about the WORK but how a person approaches the work. Men
know how to “size up” other men and recognize these characteristics, but they don’t know the inner
strengths of women well enough to judge them so they choose the familiar-in others, another man, to fill
the top spots. Part of this is the fault of the women’s movement. The political correctness of our times. It
has caused a distance, a trepidation in getting to know a woman because to stay politically correct the
relationship has tended to become quite formal. Not to mention the fact that women today are more
articulate, poised and educated. They have not been trained to enter the fray. To go to battle. Like it or
not , work can turn personal, raw, aggressive and unfair. There is little promise of applause for a good
performance of the tasks accomplished. But handling all of this is a part of leadership. It goes beyond
great work skills and good logic, which by the way , are something women excel at BUT they too often
hide behind their great work, hesitant to step out and be counted. Women have all the potent leadership
qualities of men but they’re not sure how to communicate their unique way of being tough and resilient. It
is hard to show your leadership qualities when you are being modest or communal. Rather than try to fit
the cultural model, you must learn to be a leader on your own terms. You do not need companies to be
kinder or gentler. You need exceptions made for you. Your way is no less fierce or brave. But you do need
to learn to unleash all your passion from the true center of who you are. Communication of who you are is
one of the most crucial skills missing in women today. YOU have to let everyone know what you believe
in and all that you have to offer. Life in a work environment is really just one presentation after another.
Emails, phone calls, meetings and yes, giving speeches. If you can do this, you will be chosen for
leadership positions. Instead of waiting for corporations to incorporate transformational change, there are
few things you can do where you are right now to guide you closer to realizing your full potential.
If the fear of the unknown is stopping you, consider exactly what an impossible future looks like then
decide what is the best possible future that you CAN imagine. The future is ALWAYS unknown. The good
and the bad. A true leader who is MOVING FORWARD is willing to accept that and have the drive and
determination to define the future in their own way AND be willing and adaptable enough to handle it
when it isn’t exactly what they thought it would be.
You must take responsibility for your part. Blaming other people, the company, your country, or even the
world for that matter will cause you to believe in an inability to move forward, to think all doors are
closed to you. The opportunities are STILL there no matter what you think. Women all over the world
prove that every day.
Most entrepreneurs, potentially great leaders are big thinkers. That is a good thing but sometimes we need
help to think smaller. To be able to break your vision of your future into smaller more manageable and
doable pieces. An overwhelming goal is best tackled by saying “What can I do today or this week or this
month or this year, no matter how small to begin... and get me on my way?” Then do it.
Don’t give up too soon...the hardest part to get through is the middle.
In the end we are talking about agency, the state of being in action, of exerting power or influence.
A woman who is unleashing her potential has the ability to own her ideas and do powerful things with
them. She is fully engaged in her world...at work and at home. She doesn’t want to be told what to think
and won’t let outside influences guide her down a path that she doesn’t believe in. She has the confidence
to stand up and be brilliant. She knows to reach her potential she must develop her head, her hands, her
heart and her voice so all these things can work together to give the world the person she has found within
herself. She asks powerful questions and knows which ones she already has an answer to. She knows it is
OK to fail IF you learn from it. She not only cares ABOUT her fellow workers, peers and associates, she
cares FOR them. She doesn’t see them as a “network” she sees them as family, friends, sisters, brothers,
mentors and sponsors. This is one of the inherent gifts afforded to women. Your first goal is not to “be like
a man” but to be more like a woman. You can help break the cultural binds by reclaiming your sexuality.
These five things should be your roadmap to start your journey in finding your potential:
Engage your world, ask questions, seek out answers.
A formal education will give a good foundation and a higher salary, but do not let your education end
there. A good library and the internet are invaluable tools to teach you much more than college ever could.
Join clubs and organizations, both in the real world and online designed to help you reach your full
Learn effective ways to get your point across. Treat every email you write, every phone call you make and
every conversation you have as important.
Take time every day to just sit and think and ponder your past, present and future.
If you master these you will unlock and unleash your full potential.
Regardless of what your full potential turns out to be, whether you become a business entrepreneur who
increases their net worth, a social entrepreneur who changes their community or the world for the better,
an academic that inspires and educates, an activist righting a wrong or simply and successfully raises a
family...the strategies and rules are the same. Reaching your peak potential may be a higher income or a
position of influence in business, but it may be a better relationship or a lifelong sense of inner peace. All
of these things will dramatically enhance your life.
To look to the ideal future for YOU ,you must first look inside yourself.