Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Women are not meant to work the way men do

Sorry to be so politically incorrect. And I'm sorry if my Women's Lib sisters will hate me for this comment, as I was one of them in the 70s. I would have killed (Ok, maybe that's too strong) any one who tried to tell me that I couldn't do what a man did. That's why I was one of the few women who got my MBA back in 1975. I didn't like business; I just had a point to make. And I wanted to earn a lot of money.

Well, more than thirty years later I still don't like business. I like my job because I have the luxury of working for and with some incredible people, from home, with flexible hours, and can keep myself out of corporate politics. But as a rule I don't like working for corporations and I now understand why. It's because women aren't meant to work this way. We're not meant to run from one meeting to another, non-stop, and work on tight deadlines. I'm sorry but the Women's lib movement did us a disservice. Don't get me wrong. It was much better than the 50s, which turned women into dependent children whose main goal in life was to keep the house clean and the husband happy. Women's Lib got us into high paying professions and won us some independence, and for that I am grateful. But in the process it turned us into bad imitations of men.

I just learned that men have 16 times more testosterone than women. No surprise, right? Men have testes, so they have testosterone. But I didn't know that we use testosterone when we're in the corporate world, managing people, leading, working with tight deadlines, running from meeting to meeting. So where do women get their testosterone? From their adrenals. When a woman is working that way, she is running on adrenaline. Eventually her adrenals burn out.

All the women I know who are in their fifties and have worked in corporate America have adrenal fatigue. If we're still working for a corporation, we can't function the way the thirty year olds do. It's not just that we're not willing to work 24/7, though many of us aren't. It's that we cannot work that way without getting sick. I can work 30 hours a week at my job. If I work much longer for too long a period, I wind up spending several days in bed. I am forced to take care of myself and to say no. My energy is limited and I am very choosy about how and with whom I spend it. Right now Cisco, my book, and my blog are it. There's not much space for anything else.

To my sisters in their forties who are working in corporations, aren't you starting to get tired? Please start taking care of yourselves. Eat when you're hungry, not when you are starved. Men do. Get enough sleep and rest. Men do. If you can reduce your hours or can leave the corporate world altogether, do it. I bet there is something that you are passionate about doing, that you would rather do.

To my sisters in their twenties and thirties, do not buy into the success paradigm. Life is not about climbing the corporate ladder. Life is about creativity and following your heart's desire. For women, life is about going into that space of timelessness and bringing ecstasy back into our life and into the lives of those we care about. It's time we lived up to our potential.

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