When you wake up in the morning, how do you know to be you? Unless you’re wearing a pair of pajamas with your name neatly inscribed on the top pocket, how do you know?
In those first few seconds of waking perhaps you reach for your phone, or tap into some memories, look at yourself in the mirror as you make your way to the bathroom or make a mental note of the tasks ahead for the day. It’s as if for a few seconds, you have the opportunity to be anyone you choose! Instead, you probably lock yourself back into being the person you believe yourself to be with all the memories from your past that allow you to slide back into your particular identity.
When you lock into your specific identity, it also locks you into certain patterns, and it’s our patterns in thinking and behaviour that create our response to circumstances and not the circumstances themselves.
Are you running patterns in thinking and behavior that are helping you or hindering you?
You have a pattern for being you. Your patterns in thinking literally become embedded in the network of brain cells and each time you repeat a particular thought the connection between those cells becomes stronger and stronger. All good and well if you are running a pattern of positive thinking, but if you are continually side-tracked by poor habits and pessimistic thoughts then you get stuck in a loop. That explains why some people find it so difficult to change. The more the negative thought loops run, the stronger the neural pathways become, and the more difficult it becomes to stop them!
Just for a moment, consider that If you change clothes, cars, where you live, your job, your hair style, your relationships and friends then surely it would make sense that you also need to change or update the programs and patterns stored at the unconscious level.
So the good news is that you have the ability to change the software in your brain; to literally change the way you think.
Mind your thoughts
Your thoughts create your reality and direct your outer world. Whatever you perceive outside of yourself, in people, in events, in situations, in circumstances are all actually projections from inside of you, like a reflection in a mirror. This means there is never a problem with another person, event or situation, it is simply a problem with how you are choosing to perceive that person, event or situation.
The key to solve the problem lies inside yourself. Look for the best in people, in events and in situations. When you change how you observe your world the outside world changes too!
Mind your language
Your thoughts are expressed though your language and the Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words. It’s unlikely that you are using a million different words each day, in fact, research indicates that the average woman uses up to about 20,000 words a day. What is more, you will also be using the same 100 words on a regular basis to describe your experiences. Pay attention to your language. You have the power to inspire and lift others through the language you use. What is more, the language you use to yourself has a huge impact on how you feel and your energy levels.
Your world literally comes into being by what you create with your thoughts and mind and when you begin to unlearn and let go of patterns that no longer serve you there are endless possibilities.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.