Eyes of the Beholder
Have you heard that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder? So are other things!
Years ago, I had just been to lunch with a male colleague, Larry. As we walked down a long sidewalk leading up to the facility, he turned to me and said… “Joan, I don’t consider you a male or female… I think of you as a valued colleague.”
I laughed and replied, “I think you just dissed me.” But, in reality, from his perspective, he was giving me a huge compliment. In his eyes, he was sending me the message that he valued my knowledge, skills and abilities and he was not letting my gender get in the way of that perspective.
I wish I could say that he was the norm, but it would be a misstatement at that time. However, there were other good men and leaders whose thinking was similar to Larry’s.
Like the time I was fighting my way for my next promotion. People would tell me either I couldn’t have the job because some of male clients wouldn’t accept a woman; or I could do the job, but I didn’t have enough gray hair and wouldn’t be respected. What a bummer to be given “reasons” for not getting a job, knowing that you couldn’t do anything about either.
Fortunately, my boss was an “individual” supporter, not only a male or female supporter. With his help, I got my first big break into leadership. I sent him a card after I eventually left the company writing, “Men of quality like you will never be threatened by equality.” For me that summed up the kind of man I hope to see as role models for our female friends, daughters, nieces, and granddaughters.
The good news is things have changed!
How did we get here, and where do we want to be a decade from now?
I would be the first to agree that we are not where we want – or need to be – in leveraging the skills and abilities of females. However, I can personally attest that we are moving the needle in the right direction.
Today we have female CEOs, doctors, lawyers, business owners and senior executives. We have females who: hold multiple seats on Boards of Directors; female entrepreneurs who start and go public with multi-million dollar deals; and who hold high levels of political office.
If we are going to be our strongest as a nation, we need to continue to gain momentum by leveraging all our best skills and abilities. Yes, there is plenty of work to do.
Each of us, male and female, has an important role to play.
It starts with who we are, who we want to be, and who we spend our time with. It extends to what we think, what we watch on television, what books we read, what opportunities we extend to others, and how we show up as role models. It includes how inclusive we are, how open minded we are, how we interact, and how we communicate.
My friend and colleague, Sheryl Roush, CEO of Sparkle Presentations, Inc., has busted me more than once for only quoting males in my blog posts and presentations. (Why do I continue to do that? Hard-headed?) Yes, but the real reason is years of conditioning and not taking the time to think outside the box. Are there plenty of women who are great leaders, authors, etc. You bet there are!
So, if it is meant to be, it’s up to me.
It’s up to me to give other women visibility, to provide opportunities, to buy and read their books and their music, to buy from their businesses, to share their gifts with the world, and to be a mentor and guide to up-and- coming women in all walks of life.
I have a challenge for you: males and females unite!
Please join me in highlighting the knowledge, skills, abilities and gifts of one female for each of thirty straight days. Be aware, it might be hard at first because you haven’t been conditioned to look for it…. but I can vouch that it gets easier because as one of my mentors offers, “when you change the way you look at things, what you look at changes.”
Things have changed these many years later, but what hasn’t changed is that beauty, appreciation, inclusion, valuing… start in the beholder’s eyes. Be the one!
Sheryl Roush is CEO of Sparkle Presentations, Inc., a speaker and consultant. She started her first of eight marketing businesses at the young age of 16. Her 17 published books include Heart of a Woman in Business: Stories, Strategies and Skills for Business Success; and Sparkle-Tudes! Inspirations for Creating Sparkling Attitudes.
Meet Sheryl Roush, https://sherylroush.com