You walk into an upscale networking event that you've been itching to go to.
You were ready to make some higher quality connections, but suddenly you find yourself in full-out comparison mode.
Is your outfit up to snuff? Are you too old? Too young? Do you have enough credentials to do what you are doing? Why does this always happen? You're precisely where you want to be, yet you can't control that constant self-doubt.
Women are famous for this. We have mastered the art of being mean to ourselves—continually comparing who we are and what we do to others without any perspective.
This kind of negative thinking stops us from showing up as a badass in our life and our business.
Becoming A Badass
Now, let me first clarify what a real badass woman actually is. Media has traditionally portrayed her as a woman who you can't say "no" to. She's callus, maybe a little manipulative, and will stop at nothing to get the sale. She works 80 hours a week and never misses an opportunity to sell, sell, sell.
This describes the masculine model of “push," the belief that going for something bigger means living with discomfort and pain. This is the hustle and grind approach that leads to burnout and illness.
To me, a badass is someone who knows her value, is at ease with her body, and is proud of how she shows up in the world. She attracts people to work with her, compelling them with her passion. Never forcing things, she seems to create as if by magic, all the while having time for friends and family.
Do you know anyone in particular that is coming to mind? Maybe. Maybe note. There might be the odd woman who is born with these talents. But the good news for the rest of us is that becoming a badass is something we can all do.
The Dominatrix Way
For me, I began my journey to becoming a badass when I became a Dominatrix.
This line of work is not most people's first choice on the path to self-discovery, but it's who I had to become in order to stand in my power. This role changed how I showed up in my business and in my life.
If you have only ever seen the Hollywood version of a Dominatrix, it would seem that it is about power over another person. Yet I can tell you from personal experience, everything that happens in the dungeon is completely pre-negotiated and centered around the client.
The Dominatrix is in charge of holding the space and controlling all aspects of the scene so that the client can surrender fully. That surrender allows the client to forget about the pressures of life and just allow someone else to be in charge for a change. It takes courage to let go in that way, and it takes strength to hold that scene for another person. A Dominatrix is, in fact, a high-level service position!
I had to quickly learn how to authentically be the one in charge, to be confident. Faking it would simply not do. I had to become that person.
For almost two decades, since becoming a Dominatrix, I have been managing a chain of wellness centers and now operate my own professional coaching and speaking practice. Bringing those skills from the dungeon into my business has been invaluable. Looking back on my failures, I can pinpoint exactly what went wrong when I wasn't using those skills—missteps and old habits.
The good news is that you don't have to put on the black pleather and boots in order to learn from the archetype of the Dominatrix and become more of a badass in your life.
1. Never Say Sorry
When you are in the dungeon, and your submissive is blindfolded and fixed to an apparatus while you are flogging them, the very worst thing they could ever hear is “Oops!" You will instantly ruin the scene, and all of the trust that they had in you will be gone in a second.
It is the same thing in business!
Constantly apologizing will put you out of your power. Even worse, it will make others will begin to question your expertise and their decision to work with you.
Instead of “sorry," start every email you write for the next week with “Thank you."
Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for being so amazing to work with.
Each “thank you" releases a tiny hit of dopamine for the client and that helps to disperse any possible frustration. Most importantly, it keeps you standing firmly in your power.
2. Be Willing To Lose
Very few of us have the time or money to just throw it away. The irony is that the harder you work to cling to these things, the more likely you are to lose them.
The lesson we should take from incredibly successful people—the Oprahs and the Elon Musks of the world—is that it takes great leaps of faith to make it big. They've learned how to go all-in and win, without putting attachments on the outcome.
When we try to force something to happen, we are less connected to what is actually happening in the now and are hindered from being responsive to what is right in front of us.
The Dominatrix takes time to script out a scene based on all the elements that were previously negotiated. But when she steps in the dungeon, she releases the need for that script to play out exactly as planned. She must stay present to what is actually happening. Things rarely go as scripted, but when she is fully present they will remain on track. This way, the submissive is able to relax knowing that she is fully in charge.
So make your plans, draw up the map of what you would like to happen, and then be willing to throw it all out the moment it no longer works.
3. Negotiate Like A Dominatrix
My time studying to become a Dominatrix taught me some incredible mindset skills, and negotiation was at the top of that list.
In the dungeon, every single detail is discussed prior to starting a scene. You talk about what is okay, what is not okay, and what is a not right now—for both participants! Only when both parties agree on something can it be explored in the scene. There is no room for compromise; it is win/win or nothing.
To become a badass, you can learn from the Dominatrix and create your own list of what you are willing and not willing to do and what is a maybe (under the right circumstances).
Having your list drawn up ahead of time will stop you from falling back into old patterns and will allow you to achieve more of your goals in the long term.
The lesson here isn't that life can start feeling easy. Life is always going to get uncomfortable. But I invite you to learn how to ride the waves in a way that will bring greater ease and less long-term damage to you. Like a Dominatrix, stand in the inner power, listen to what needs to be done, and reap the rewards.
This piece was originally published on October 21, 2018.
When I first heard #OKBoomer, I cringed and thought — here we go again.
Yet another round of generation bashing, this time Millennials against Baby Boomers. This new social media conflict will not help workplace dynamics.
Throughout my career, I've heard countless rants about long-established workplace norms that younger generations perceive as overly repressive rules that subvert identity, familial obligations, civility, and respect for the environment.
I get it. I remember how I felt early in my career being told that I couldn't wear pants, had to wear pantyhose (even in 90-degree weather) and that I wasn't allowed to speak to executives. Seriously?
Gen X here to the rescue.
Sandwiched between the much larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations, Gen Xers are often overlooked. Please allow me to build a bridge to the opportunity ahead.
For me, the generation challenge is a communications opportunity. And the stakes are high, because we spend about 70% of our day communicating. Within that timeframe, we spend about 45% listening, 30% speaking, 16% reading, and 9% writing.
By 2030, most Baby Boomers will have retired, and approximately 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials. That gives us about a decade to continue working together to create a work environment that is better for women, people of color, and the younger generations.
As a multigenerational workplace scholar, I'm often asked, what is a generation, and why do they matter?
Karl Mannheim, the founder of sociology, concluded that key historical events significantly impact people during their youth. Essentially, when you were born and what was happening where you lived during your formative childhood years, help define what is important to you and help set your value system.
Think of it this way, if the games you played growing up allowed you to advance to the next level regardless of if it took one attempt or fifty, you might have a different perspective on what mastering a task looks like than someone who didn't.
If technology has almost always allowed you to be more efficient, you may seek to perform a job as quickly as possible, so that you are being productive, not because you are looking for a short cut.
If the answer to any question was always a Google search away, you might get frustrated when your questions go unanswered and are told to figure it out.
These examples begin to explain why Baby Boomers and Millennials value different things. However, there are always going to be outliers. I study generational-related values, because they frame how we show up and what we expect when we come to work.
In my recent study of 1,400 Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z women, I examined strategies for communicating. I was particularly interested in interpersonal communications — the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages. It turns about that the most essential characteristics by generation were active listening (paying attention to others), collaboration (teamwork), and empathy (showing understanding for others).
Baby Boomers believe they are best at "paying attention to others."
Given our hectic schedules at work, you may be tempted to multitask while speaking or try to get by gleaning the gist of a conversation in a conference call while working on a report at the same time. But this isn't deeply effective. Active listening is crucial because being highly engaged in a conversation helps everyone involved have clarity and alignment on exchange. It also helps build rapport and trust between participants.
Some practical ways to demonstrate active listening include:
- Asking specific questions or paraphrasing what you've heard
- Using non-verbal cues such as making eye contact and not looking at your device
- Maintain body language that shows you are interested and the speaker has your full attention
Gen X believes they are best at "working with others."
Lots of us have heard the expression, "There's no 'I' in a team." Teams that collaborate well have a better chance for sustained and repeatable success.
Effective ways to demonstrate collaboration are:
- Establishing clear goals and expectations for the team
- Being accountable for the team and yourself
- Providing and being open to feedback
Both Millennials and Gen Z believe they are most effective at "showing understanding for others."
The workplace is more diverse than ever before. Some organizations may have a Baby Boomer, a Gen Xer, Millennial, and a Gen Zer, all working alongside each other. By showing empathy, we can demonstrate that we appreciate and respect each other's perspectives and are open to understanding how they feel about a situation, idea, or concept.
Effective ways to demonstrate empathy are:
- Listening without judging or forming an opinion
- Being slow to criticize
- Acknowledging the other person's feelings as valid for them
So, instead of dismissing a generation with a hashtag, let try to open a dialogue. For example, next time you are working a Baby Boomers demonstrate that you are actively listening to what they are saying. Try sending a summary email about your deliverables on an assignment Gen Xers to highlight your collaborative skills. And take time to let Millennials and Gen Z know that you appreciate and understand their point of view.