6 Min ReadBusiness 04 December 2019
Following are excerpts from "Unleash the Girls, The Untold Story of the Invention of the Sports Bra and How It Changed the World (And Me)" By Lisa Z. Lindahl
There is an idea that has popped up everywhere from Chaos Theory to Science Fiction and New Age memes known popularly as the "Butterfly Effect." Simply put, it is the notion that one very small thing—the movement of a butterfly's wing say, or the ripple in a lake caused by a pebble being thrown into it—can cause tremendous effect far away: the butterfly's wing a tornado, the ripple a large wave on a distant shore. Cause and effect, does it have limits? The field of physics is telling us that it takes only observation to bring a thing into being. We cannot consider these areas of investigation and not acknowledge that everything—everything—is in relationship in some way or another with everything else.
So, it is evident to me that commerce of any kind is, also, just about relationships. It all boils down, on every level to this simplicity. While we usually think of relationships as occurring between people—it is far more than that.
I used to teach a course in entrepreneurship specifically for women in The Women's Small Business Program at Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. I made this concept of relationship and its importance central in how I taught the marketing thought process. I would stress that for a product or service to be successful, it had to meet a perceived need. There is a need, and it wants to be met; or it may be thought of as a problem to be solved. Or there may be an existing solution that is less than adequate.
For example: In my universe as a runner there already were a plethora of bras available, but they were inadequate for my purpose. The relationship between my breasts, my running body, and my bra was creating discomfort and distraction. A new solution had to be found, the relationship occurring when all these things came together had to be fixed. Utilizing this point of view, one sees a set of issues that need to be addressed—they are in relationship with each other and their environment in a way that needs to be changed, adjusted.
Nowhere is this viewpoint truer than in business, as we enter into more and more relationships with people to address all the needs of the organization. Whether designing a product or a service or communicating with others about it—we are in relationship. And meanwhile, how about maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves? All the issues we know about stress in the workplace can boil down to an internal balancing act around our relationships: to the work itself, to those we work with, to home life, friends and lovers. So quickly those ripples can become waves.
Because Jogbra was growing so quickly, relationships were being discovered, created, ending, expanding and changing at a pace that makes my head spin to recall. And truly challenged my spirit. Not to mention how I handled dealing with my seizure disorder.
"My Lifelong Partner"
Let me tell you a bit about my old friend, Epilepsy. Having Epilepsy does not make any sort of money-making endeavor easy or reliable, yet it is my other "partner" in life. Husbands and business partners have come and gone, but Epilepsy has always been with me. It was my first experience of having a "shadow teacher."
Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life.
While a child who isn't feeling she has power over her world may have a tantrum, as we grow older, most of us find other more subtle ways to express our powerfulness or powerlessness. We adapt, learn coping mechanisms, how to persuade, manipulate, or capitulate when necessary. These tools, these learned adaptations, give a sense of control. They make us feel more in charge of our destiny. As a result, our maturing self generally feels indestructible, immortal. Life is a long, golden road of futures for the young.
This was not the case for me. I learned very early on when I started having seizures that I was not fully in charge of the world, my world, specifically of my body. There are many different types of epileptic seizures. Often a person with the illness may have more than one type. That has been the case for me. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy—with a seizure type now referred to as "Absence seizures"—when I was four years old. I have seen neurologists and taken medications ever since. As often happens, the condition worsened when I entered puberty and I started having convulsions as well—what most people think of when they think of epileptic seizures. The clinical name is generalized "Tonic-clonic" seizures.
In such a seizure the entire brain is involved, rather like an electrical circuit that has gone out as a result of a power surge. I lose consciousness, my whole body becomes rigid, the muscles start jerking uncontrollably, and I fall. Tonic-clonic seizures, also known as "grand mal" seizures, may or may not be preceded by an aura, a type of perceptual disturbance, which for me can act as a warning of what is coming. The seizure usually only lasts for a few minutes, but I feel its draining effects for a day or two afterwards. Although I would prefer to sleep all day after such a physically and emotionally taxing event, I have often just gotten up off the floor and, within hours, gone back to work. It was necessary sometimes, though definitely not medically advised. I'm fond of saying that having a grand mal seizure is rather like being struck by a Mack truck and living to tell the tale.
Having Epilepsy has forced me to be dependent on others throughout my life. While we are all dependent upon others to some degree—independent, interdependent, dependent—in my case a deep level of dependency was decreed and ingrained very early on. This enforced dependency did not sit well with my native self. I bucked and rebelled. At the same time, a part of me also feared the next fall, the next post-convulsive fugue. And so I recognized, I acquiesced to the need to depend on others.
The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal. I could not trust that my body would always operate as it should. Routinely, it suddenly quits. I experience this as betrayal by my brain and body. It results in my complete powerlessness throughout the convulsion. Not to mention an inconvenient interruption of any activities or plans I might have made.
Hence, I am the recipient of two important life lessons—and I was blessed to have this very specific and graphic experience at a young age. It made me observant and reflective, giving me the opportunity to consider what/where/who "I" was. I knew I was not "just" my body, or even my brain.
So, who or what did that leave? Who, what am I? Much has been written about trauma, and about near-death experiences, both of which seizures have been classified or described as. I won't delve into that here except to say that experiencing recurrent seizures and the attendant altered states of consciousness that sometimes accompany an episode (the euphemism for a seizure) changes one. It deeply affects you. It is both illuminating and frightening. It opens you up in some ways and can close you way down in others. For me it made it easy to consider the possibility of other ways to perceive, of other realms. And as an adult I became interested in quantum physics, where Science is pushing and challenging our long-held perceptual assumptions. Me, who was poor in math and disinterested in Science while in school! So if not merely body and brain, who am I? Spirit. And with Epilepsy's tutelage, I was encouraged to question, seek, try to understand what lies beyond.
The silver lining of having Epilepsy is that it has introduced me to and taught me a bit about the nature of being powerless—and experiencing betrayal.
Living with Epilepsy has also given me great strength. In realizing the futile nature of trying to have "power over" Epilepsy, I developed a deep well of "power within"—that inner strength that comes in the acceptance of that which one cannot change—and looking beyond it.
Through my experience building the business of Jogbra with the unique lens afforded me by my Epilepsy partner, I came to understand more fully the nature of power and what it means to be truly powerful.
Specifically, that having power and exercising it is not simply a manifestation of the ego. It need not be "power-tripping." It is how I wield my power that matters, making the all-important distinction between creating a situation of power over, power with, or empowering and having and creating strength in oneself and others.
Being powerful is a big responsibility.
To put all this another way: do I choose to create situations in which I am able to wield power over others? Or do I choose to empower others, sharing my strengths with them, while nurturing their strengths as well? The first is not true power. It is control. The second I believe to be the essence of true and positive power: strength. And integral to creating a more harmonious world, oh by the way.
While this may be apparent, even basic to others, it was an "aha!" moment for me. Too often in the years ahead I would give away my power and question my own strengths,. Time and again, however, my inner strength, my shadow teacher's gift, helped me survive and thrive until I could take responsibility for and embrace more fully my own power.
This article was originally published December 4, 2019.
© Lisa Z. Lindahl 2019
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COVID-19's impact on the world economy was virtually impossible to predict and fully prepare for. Governments balancing citizens' immediate health and safety vs. their financial needs resulted in emergency regulations that have hurt businesses worldwide. Today, the cannabis industry is considered essential, but as we entrepreneurs know, operating any business is a challenge. The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.
But how do we do it? Especially with the growing rate of anxiety and depression?
Resilience and Emotional Intelligence.
Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life.
Lao Tzu once said: "Strong is he who conquers others, but powerful is he who is able to conquer himself." Being an entrepreneur is liberating but at the same time requires great responsibility. Being emotionally intelligent will help you think rationally, make clear decisions, and deal with people better. Being smart in the emotional field is a skill acquired over time. It takes consistent practice and dedication. It's similar to building a fit body through exercising; you will realize that the more you exercise, the more you are able to achieve your aim. The steps to building emotional intelligence include:
1) Understand what it means to be emotionally intelligent
You cannot achieve what you don't know. Before training to be emotionally intelligent, understand what it means and why it is important.
Emotional intelligence means the ability to adapt to the stresses, tragedies, and discomforts that happen in everyday life. Being emotionally intelligent does not mean that you will not suffer or be upset, rather it means that you will be able to recognize and evaluate your feelings and others' feelings and plan on how to deal with them. It is also important to understand that achieving this is a gradual process and that people learn in different ways. Regular practice is necessary.
2) Think before making decisions
A lot of times when we are pushed to the wall or completely stressed out, we tend to act irrationally and end up regretting our actions. The best way to address this is to think before acting. Thinking before making decisions bring clarity about the situation and helps to avoid conflicts and unnecessary regrets.
3) Be empathetic
Everyone is in the same boat, and we never really know what's going on with the others around us. It is important to know how to put yourself in others' shoes, try to understand their behaviors, and always be open to new ideas!
4) Learn to relate to people
Good leaders are characterized by their good relationships with people. Having a genuine interest in people and encouraging their growth creates happy environments, and happy people are naturally more productive.
Seek not only to speak but to listen to people and try to understand what the other person is saying. This might be difficult, but it is a skill that produces a long-term benefit when you learn it.
Be open to receiving feedback and accepting diversity. The best way to grow professionally is by investing in relationships, as no one is or does everything alone all the time.
The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in tough times as we constantly look for ways to survive and improve our business while overcoming hardships.
5) You are in control of your reactions
Everyone has feelings, and we feel different things every day. The key is to know how to act on those feelings.
For example, I can feel angry and:
- a) Keep it to myself
- b) shout and attack someone
- c) understand the reason for the anger, express what I'm feeling and why I'm feeling it
In all the reactions listed above, what triggered them is the same - anger. The reactions show that you might not be able to control what life puts in front of you, but you will always be in control of how you react.
6) Act with intention
Be in control of your focus, understand what is happening, and take action consciously. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present without letting the past or future affect you; it helps the mind to become healthier and happier.
7) Identify your strengths
Make a list of your best strengths and qualities and read them aloud. Remember that knowing your qualities helps you to become more focused and confident. This helps to increase your strength and emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is a process. Give yourself time to practice these steps, and gradually you will see improvement in your business and personal life with each day that passes.