What Does a Woman of Power Look Like?

I’m thrilled to feature one of the most powerful women I know, Cherry Woodburn, as my guest blogger today. Cherry is founder of Borderless Thinking®, a business created to help women grow in various aspects of their life in order to do what they really want and be their authentic selves. It entails taming their inner shrew, leaving insecurities behind and learning new patterns of behavior. This occurs through on and off-line workshops, retreats, the written word and keynote presentations chocked full of stories, info’ and humor. Check out the powerful conversations Cherry’s having on her blog!

Guest post by Cherry Woodburn

Is Stopping A Bully A Sign Of Power?

Eddie T’s mom. I still remember her moniker and the day she told me that my older son was being bullied by some of the neighbor kids. Seth was in middle-school at the time.

When he came home that day I asked him about it. He said it was true, a few kids had pushed him around and were threatening to beat him up, causing him to take different routes to and from school.

“What kept you from telling me?”

From the look on his face and, his hesitation I knew the answer, “You were worried I’d drive the van through the front door of John’s house and pummel him in the face right?”

He nodded yes.

Seth knew I wouldn’t have really driven my van through the door or pummeled the kid’s face and he also knew I would never sit still for him or his brother being abused. They knew I took on the bully baseball coach. Although Seth would have liked help but didn’t want to be razzed about his mom intervening, figuring the bulling would just get worse.

So does the fact that I’ll confront the bully (really for anybody, not just my sons) make me a woman with power? I don’t think so, not in my definition of power but – and this may sound like word-games – I know I’m a powerful woman.

Is Taking A Stand And Asking For What I Want A Sign Of Power?

Clay Shirky wrote A Rant About Women which raised the hackles of many and was written about in a myriad of blogs and the Bloomberg Business Week (can see his post there, it’s no longer on original site). Essentially he said that women don’t speak up enough for themselves, and that’s the primary reason why they don’t get promoted etc. like men do. He told women that they need to raise their hands and ask for what they want. So I did. I called him out in a post and then emailed him my post telling him I was raising my hand and I wanted him to respond to my post and tweet about it. He did. We debated over emails. I landed on BBC World news as a commenter when the BBC interviewed him. All that made me feel powerful. And I guess that was a show of my power. But here’s my problem with saying I hold power. And it’s not about being a woman.

I equate power with position and scale – President of USA and other countries, CEO of large companies, celebrities like Bono or Oprah who use there celebrity to influence change. I don’t have that kind of power. Therefore, I don’t think of myself as a woman of power.

Another Definition Of Power

Lara Galloway, The Mom Biz Coach, has called me out on occasion saying I don’t own my power – that I don’t recognize the presence I have or honor my ability to speak up and to take risks. She’s right. I’m not sure what to say about it. I don’t want to play small but I’m uncomfortable being big…or at least with saying I’m big. That feels like bragging and “nice people” (hearing my mom’s voice) don’t brag. I want to be nice, I don’t enjoy being around braggarts. So how do I own my power, embrace it and not brag?

I think a person can be powerful without saying they’re powerful. Is that a cop-out? What do you think?

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