You’re going to love this one. It’s one of those, ‘Oh, wow, why didn’t I know about this sooner?!’ moments. And it all starts with the question, ‘What would my Queen do?’…
I know, you think I’ve gone mad again. I promise you, it’s incredible. Read on.
Imagine you have a bunch of characters inside you that step up to the plate when you need them. In the psychology world, they’re called Archetypes. We all have several.
I especially like to work with Warrior, Mother and Queen.
You probably already have images springing up in your head. You can easily imagine a Warrior out on the battlefields, a Mother, nurturing her children and a Queen, leading with poise. You might also be imagining the dark side of those characters too, especially the Queen, who is often portrayed in fairytales as a less than desirable woman. Today we shift that image to where it should be. A core decision maker and leader in your life.
Most of the women I work with, spend WAY too much time in Warrior. Way, way, way too much.
Some do the same in Mother. Introducing them to their Queen is a huge moment.
Let’s see if we can’t find out how things are playing out for you.
Today, we’re just going to play with the Warrior and the Queen. We’ll save Mother for another day.
The Warrior is amazing. She stands for what’s right in her world and she’ll fight to the death to make it happen.
When you’re thinking about an exceptional Warrior, think of Martial Arts experts, people who have crafted their battle skills with discipline and thoughtfulness and who only draw on them when absolutely necessary and with great precision.
This is probably not how your Warrior is playing in the world right now.
I’m going to take a guess that your Warrior hasn’t quite mastered her discipline yet and that she pops up a little more than is absolutely necessary.
You know you have a Warrior who is showing up too much when you:
- See many things in your life as battles that need to be won.
- Are regularly exhausted because you have to keep ‘fighting’ to make sure the right things happen.
- Feel as though you have lost a limb on more than one occasion to get the outcome you need.
- Often leave ‘dead bodies’ in your wake.
- Fill yourself up with righteous anger and can regularly get annoyed at small things (road rage, changes at work) that trigger your mind to play out scenarios over and over again.
- Get feedback that sometimes you can be a little too assertive or aggressive (which makes the Warrior rise up even more).
- Notice that sometimes people sigh when they see you take up your sword in a meeting or a personal discussion.
- Get frustrated and energetic when people just CAN’T SEE THINGS THE WAY YOU DO.
Of course you’re tired.
Warriors are not meant to fight ALL of the time.
Or even most of it. They need time to hone their skills and their mental responses. We need to draw on them at critical moments when it is clear that nothing else will work. And in the drawing on them, we need to accept that we may well have to sacrifice not only a part of our own skin, but the skin of others too.
So you see, they’re not for everyday use. And some of you, well, you’re working in environments where you think that the only way to get what you want is by bringing out the Warrior.
Here’s what I want for you.
I want you to be able to express what you need and create what you deeply long for in the world whilst bringing people WITH you in as many circumstances as possible.
I want you to be a leader in your life and your profession that people admire and want to do MORE with, rather than someone that people are grateful to have on the team when the proverbial hits the fan but sometimes wish you would just tone it down.
And I want you to create all of that in a way that feels just like you.
Bring on the Queen.
I LOVE my Queen. Truly.
(To be clear this is not a conversation about Royalist tendencies. If the word drives you mad, change it, become an Empress or a goddess or whatever word instils wisdom, grace, leadership and respect in you. It’s all good. I use Queen. You get to use whatever you like.)
My Queen brings stillness, calm, clear rationality and an ability to steer through the rockiest waters in life. She has critical work to do in the world and as a leader of her own life, she knows she can’t afford to lay down her life for a small cause when there are bigger things to focus on. She chooses her moments and she draws on the Warrior when she needs them.
Think of the Queen as your place to turn to when the anger is rising. Ask her, ‘What would you do?’ and you might be amazed what emerges.
You’ll know your Queen is taking the reins when:
- You drop the trivia in your life, because you recognise it gets in the way of you showing up in your fullest impact. You don’t worry about your stomach rolls or thigh width or your nervousness in presentations, because you know that’s simply distracting noise from your mind, keeping you away from the things you really want to create.
- You find yourself listening intently to what the other person has to say without needing to be right. You recognise that understanding what is going on for them is going to lead to a far better solution for both of you.
- You know how to disarm the warriors in the room by creating peace, stillness and clarity.
- You call forth other individuals and speak to their humanity to create opportunities for them to behave differently.
- You always remember that life is not black and white. That if neither your solution nor the other party’s is appropriate for all concerned, you are creative individuals and can find another solution that meets everyone’s needs.
- You are able to ask for what you need without expecting or anticipating that everyone will do as you want them to. If these are not the people who are willing to help you, you will find others who will and so you can walk away with ease.
Can you feel the difference?
I know, I know, you’re already asking, ‘yes, of course, this would be amazing. And HOW ON EARTH AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?’.
Here’s a story to illustrate. I know it will resonate with many women reading this.
Once upon a time…
I wanted to request Flexible Working. I wanted to work four days a week instead of five. Having no children, I knew this would be an unexpected request. I had a HUGE job. I literally led thousands of people in a 24-7 operation. On paper, no-one in their right minds would agree to four days.
I also had every confidence that I could create what was needed. After all, five days a week is a COMPLETELY MADE UP THING (you have noticed that right?).
When I made the request of my Manager at the time, I could see him sigh a little, whilst realising he would probably need to say yes. We were doing all this work on Women in Leadership after all. In that respect it would be difficult to say no.
So he came back to negotiate.
‘You can have this, Danielle, but I’ll move x department over to someone else. That way I think you can manage it in four days’.
My Warrior stirred. She was not up for negotiation. In fact, the department my manager was talking about giving to someone else was one of the core reasons I was still in my job. It was a new challenge. Something I wanted to test my skills out on.
I knew that with this particular manager, Warrior on Warrior was a bad move indeed. He would win and we would both be exhausted at the end of it.
So I breathed. I asked myself, ‘What would my Queen do?’ and walked away to reflect.
My Queen knew there was another way.
She returned to the conversation.
‘No. I want to work four days in this job. Not a modified one. I’m not willing to negotiate.
Also this. We are working with hypotheticals. Right now, you believe that I can’t make this work in four days. I believe I can. Neither of us has any idea whether what we believe is true. It’s not a conversation that can provide answers.
Are you willing to let me trial four days on the basis that I am completely willing to have an open discussion at the end of the trial period?
I commit to being reasonable and sharing my experience if you will do the same? Then we can make a decision. Let’s take the law and process out of it and simply try.’
He said yes. How could he not?
And there you have it.
Queen in action.
Her strongest and most thoughtful moves are ALWAYS to :
- take ‘the way it has been done’ out of the equation and offer something new.
- make the conversation about two human beings who have needs to be met.
- to consider both sides before coming up with her solution, yet she never tie herself to rules that do not serve.
- take the heat out of the discussion by remaining reasonable throughout, taking the angst and the need to ‘win’ out of the conversation for both parties.
- search for alignment, rather than compromise.
And if she doesn’t get what she wants, she doesn’t throw her toys out of the pram, she sits back and considers her next move. Thoughtfully and without panic or agitated urgency.
She reflects on the characters of others and offers routes that might just work for them.
Most of all, she is of service. She doesn’t make it about her and her alone. She seeks to meet the needs of others as a way of honouring her mission in the world, of maintaining respect and having people continue to love her and be curious about what she is creating.
She’s a legend.
Go search for her in your life. Ask her what she would do when you find the Warrior rising up. Breathe. Wait for her answer. You have time.
I suspect you’re going to be delighted with what you find.
Loving you, your graceful Queen and your bold Warrior. What a combination!