The power of AND
Have you ever stopped to consider the transformative power of the word “and”? This tiny conjunction can shift perspectives, open up new possibilities and help women realize their full potential as leaders. By using “and” instead of “or”, women can envision a future where they can have both a personal and professional life without feeling guilty. “And” also encourages an inclusive mindset as a leader and fosters collaboration, helping others achieve success based upon the encouragement to think outside the box.
What is the power of AND?
Women in particular have a lot to gain from incorporating “and” into their daily vocabulary. Society often presents women with a narrow definition of success, forcing them to choose between their personal and professional lives. However, the use of “and” refutes this binary thinking, allowing women to envision a future where they can have it all.
For example, instead of thinking “I am a mother or a CEO”, a woman can say I am a mother and a CEO. This simple language switch helps eliminate the guilt or shame that often comes with prioritizing one aspect of life over the other. It also opens the possibility for work-life integration, rather than work-life balance, which is often a more realistic and attainable goal.
How I discovered the power of AND…
I remember the first time that I understood the expansive qualities of “The Power of And”. Several years ago, I was a senior sales leader for a Fortune 100’s Best Companies to Work. It was an in-office job and my kids were in middle school. I recall feeling so divided on multiple occasions – was my dedication and priorities on the business or my children? It very much felt like I had to make a choice and several times I felt pressured to choose the business in which I would make arrangements for the kids so I could work late and stay committed to my role as a leader. Back then, it was an expected sacrifice of a working mother.
…And the power of yoga
It wasn’t until I was in another polarizing experience that I found the hidden power in the word “and”. To counter my high-stress job, yoga became something that I practiced regularly. In 2015, I decide to get certified as a yoga teacher. I found a program that was every 3rd weekend and it wouldn’t interfere with work. In time, I shared with my colleagues that I was doing this yoga teacher training, and they were seriously concerned for me. Making statements such as “Yoga teachers don’t make any money. What are you going to do, give up your career to be a yoga teacher?”
The comments surprised me. I loved my career and had no intention of giving it up. On the contrary, my dedication and deepening of my yoga practice were helping me be more present and think outside the box more both at work and at home.
Having it all
Back on the mat at the yoga studio, my fellow yogis would make statements such as, “I bet you can’t wait to quit that soul-sucking corporate job of yours” with a laugh. I would say back “I love my career, and I happen to also love yoga. I’m not quitting my job.”
After I made that statement, I could feel the truth behind my words. I loved my career and I also loved yoga. I felt a little angry that I was feeling pressure like I had to choose. From then on, I owned I loved both and that I wasn’t choosing between the two. I embraced the space for both. The moment that I did, I felt my personal power expand and my confidence increase.
From there, I finally dared to proudly own that I was an executive leader and an awesome mom. When my kids were sick, I no longer asked someone else to get them so I could stay at work. I stood firm in my truth that the business would not fall apart because I was gone for a half day and my kids finally got their mother rather than a friend of the family.
What this means for women
As leaders, we often lead through our actions more than our words. What I found next is that by using “The Power of AND” as my approach to work and life, it gave the other working moms permission to do the same. What I found as a result, is that the working mothers on my team became more loyal, more committed, and overall happier because they too were feeling the power of “and”.
Moreover, “and” encourages an inclusive mindset, rather than a competitive one. In a world where women are often pitted against each other, “and” fosters a spirit of collaboration and support. It allows us to focus on what we can achieve together, rather than focusing on our differences.
In conclusion, the word “and” is a powerful tool in the journey toward realizing one’s full potential as a leader. By embracing its inclusive and expansive qualities, women can break free from societal expectations and forge their own path to success. In my book Harness Your Inner CEO, I wrote this which seems perfect for the closing of this article, “the word ‘and’ opens doors and creates opportunities. It’s time to harness its power and become the CEO of your life”.