As I write this I’m preparing to facilitate the first of four Springboard workshops for a group of 35 women in Essex. Springboard is a development programme just for women – if you want to find out more about it, click here: winnthinking.co.uk/springboard.
All sorts of women attend Springboard, for all sorts of reasons. Some are focused on career advancement. Some will have personal circumstances that constantly sap their energy, confidence or sense of certainty. Some will know precisely what they want to achieve and where they are heading, others will have no idea whatsoever. It’s what makes Springboard such a fascinating and rewarding programme to facilitate – it is always 100% about the women, and women are wonderful.
And that’s the point – so many of us women place massive, unreasonable expectations on ourselves. Themes that consistently emerge on Springboard are being too passive and people pleasing, extreme perfectionism, taking responsibility for everything and everyone, struggling to see one’s own value, being overly critical of oneself over the tiniest mistakes, worrying about being accepted for who and what one is, struggling to make decisions because of having to take everyone else’s point of view into account…
Now, we can never generalise where people are concerned, but you may well be nodding sagely along with that list (I do too!). But actually, the fact that women are so empathetic, generous and strong is something I am rather proud of. It makes us a BRILLIANT gender! And it makes us GREAT networkers too.
What our participants discover is that women can give themselves a better deal without having to necessarily ‘harden up’ and become some kind of pseudo-male. (Plenty of men suffer from the same anxieties and challenges too, by the way). Through sharing their experiences and being open to a new outlook, the women come to realise that most of the time ‘good enough’ really is good enough, and that other people (work colleagues, needy friends, partners and children) are perfectly capable of taking on their own load for themselves. Shock! Horror!
Here’s what one woman wrote after attending Springboard in 2012: “This programme helped me realise many things about real life and what I want to achieve. I saw that most of the women have the same problems and they put up some barriers because they think they are not able to cope… just because they are women. This is very wrong because everything in life depends on you, and you can change everything if you want to.”
Remember, you don’t have to be on a Springboard programme to start your own journey of self-discovery. It’s all down to you. Here. Now. 3…2…1…we’re off…