After 30 years of working closely with women, I decided to write a book to share the various perspectives that I have heard over the course of thousands of workshops and conversations with women of all lifestyles and economic backgrounds. I want to share these perspectives because in my experience, as women, we all share similar beliefs. What differs between us is our ability to transform these beliefs into actions.
What is also clear to me is that we women understand and practice entrepreneurship differently than men do. There are certain disadvantages that hold us back, but those also sometimes create great advantages, helping us build a better world – one with much more balance.
Let me share some of the beliefs that I consider to be commonly held among women, and hopefully, a survey of them will prompt you to reflect on your own perspectives.
“Emotions Make Us Weak:” It is a commonly held belief that women make emotional decisions, while men think with their heads. But have you ever seen a man make a decision without emotions? What about fear, anxiety, and anger in a meeting? Being emotional has its advantages; emotions help us develop connections with people and situations. Without emotion, we seem indifferent or uncommitted to what is happening around us. Emotions are always present, whether they are expressed or not. As women, we have the ability to easily express our emotions, so we are able to show men how to tap into them as well.
“Success is Being Number 1:” When starting a business, we quickly learn that being successful is being “number 1.” We are taught to compete, no matter what it takes, to get to first place. But I always ask myself whether there is another way to seek excellence without having to compete with others to be the best. Can we attain success if we decide not to build a large company? Can we opt instead for a small project in order to have a family or a life of less stress? Is small enough? Women tend to look for options that allow them to achieve balance in their lives. The feeling of having enough is also a form of success.
“The World is What We See:” Our perception of the world depends on our realities. Women who cannot travel because they have to take care of their families tend to see their worlds as small towns with very few possibilities. The same happens to women in cities who stay at home and have little exposure to other realities. In most cultures, men travel a great deal more because they often work outside of home and do not take on the role of primary caregivers in their families. If women want to become entrepreneurs, they need to widen their worlds in order to understand what the market demands. Exposure to the world opens possibilities for new ideas, new designs, and new lives.
“We Need to Look Inside Us:” Books, workshops, and culture as a whole all tell us that we need to search inside of us to find what we want. But if we want to find our passion, we need to look externally and listen to what people need. If we want to create something that other people would use or recognize, we have to step outside of ourselves. Learning about how people live and what is missing can lead us to offer the best of our abilities toward filling those gaps. As women, we know how to connect with people. We know how to listen. We have the ability to respond to what the community needs. Let´s take advantage of these abilities.
Readers can read through more of my reflections once my book is published, but I just wanted to reinforce that beliefs trigger emotions, leading to certain actions. If we fear what we see, emotions hold us back. If we trust ourselves and feel enthusiastic, we can move forward. Look at your own beliefs, and start working from them. You might be able to transform behaviors that you thought would be impossible to change.