Inner Peace Inner Power: Insights of Women Leaders March 9, 2023

The theme for UN International Women’s Day 2023 is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” I was asked how I leverage this theme, as a woman leader. At the office, to launch International Women’s day week, we had an informal discussion about supporting women in the workplace, avoiding bias, helping to create opportunity, respecting bodily integrity, addressing harassment and discrimination, being an ally, and more. I believe conversation is part of raising awareness and contributing to social change.

However, conversation is not enough, we need to address systemic injustices. How are women farmers shaping technological innovations to respond to their challenges and aspirations? Community-based childcare centres in low-income neighborhoods are an innovation shown to make a difference for families; how can such centres become part of national policy and be scaled? How are we closing gender pay gaps in our organizations? These are just a few examples of areas where we can collectively invest in innovation to make society better.

Leading a team
As a leader, I work with a team of 30 people. I feel a responsibility to consider my colleagues as complete human beings. I am curious about their ambitions and aspirations and ready to support them. To do that work, I need to first take care of and be in touch with myself.

Checking in with me
I need to take time to check in with me, rather than just rush around doing things in the world. Some ask: Is self-time selfish? I know that when I take time for me, I am more centred and grounded in who I am and what I’m about. I can be more present, listen better, and be more useful in the world that way.

Being conscious about how we invest our energy
We all have energy. I like to think of it as our vitality or life force. I try to be conscious about where I invest my energy. I try to invest in spaces where I have something to contribute and will be nourished. I do not want to be drained by senseless activity.

Bringing ourselves to the table
I asked women friends and colleagues what they learned through leadership training. Several said that, after the training, they gave themselves permission to bring themselves to bear on their work. Sometimes, as women leaders, we can feel insecure. We try to conform, and we may leave our gifts in the closet. Through leadership training, and meditation, we can be more in touch with our strengths and bringing them to the table. It may seem intimidating to be our authentic selves, but when we are, we empower ourselves and those around us.

What does it mean to be a leader?
I think we need to rethink the idea of “woman leader.” Being a leader does not mean you are a “Director” of something. I believe we lead from wherever we are in an organization, in society. We need to lead in line with our values and what makes for better community. To align with our values and the needs of a community, we need time not only to act but to introspect. Time for introspection and meditation can make us better listeners, learners, and leaders.

Inner Peace Inner Power
The way we show up in the world is a reflection of our inner being. If we are frantic on the inside, that is how we will show up. If we are serene and loving inside, that is how we will show up. It takes time, commitment, and awareness to cultivate love. And, of course, few of us are always serene and loving. The other day I felt scattered and unbalanced. I paused to think about it. I realized I had not been on my yoga mat for two days, so I made time in the morning for movement and a brief meditation. I felt more centred the whole day. When we commit to regularly take time to be still and connect with our inner being, our true self shines forth.

Meditation does not need to be complicated
Yoga teacher B. K. S. Iyengar writes in “The Tree of Life” how the benefits of yoga come with regularity. I ask new yoga students to practice one posture or asana each day. It is in so doing that the practice of yoga can become regular, and we experience the benefits.

In the same way, let us not make meditation complicated in the beginning. Try to avoid gadgets like mobile phones for one hour before bed and one hour after you wake up. Find two minutes – or even just one – each night before bed. Or when you wake up, to start your day.

Sit quietly. Be still. Go inside. Listen to the wisdom of the heart centre. Your sleep, or your day will be better for it. You will be more in tune with yourself and more aligned with the universe. Life will be better.

Click to access the full reflection and a two-minute breathing exercise to release and renew.

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