At about the middle of my career life in New York City, I felt a deep yearning to change the establishment. I found it so constricting that I was having difficulty doing the work I was hired to do. I wasn't allowed to think for myself. There were the owners beliefs and ideas. And that was it. Nothing that I brought to the table for change was acceptable. Change was not acceptable. Sexual harassment was acceptable. I was in my early twenties showing a customer a product that our company had for sale and the owner of the company would make an inappropriate statement for everyone to hear. I didn't know what to do. I think there was probably a tight smile of disbelief spread across my face. The others laughed. To add to the story, his behavior was so well known that his wife made him take out a sexual harassment insurance policy. Can you believe something like that even exists in America?
Things became more and more difficult. I looked for a place where I could be honest about how I felt. I found a life coach named Judith, I went to a weekend course in her 57th Street office in Manhattan. In one of the exercises, we folded a piece paper in half lengthwise. On one side we were to draw our life now. On the other side, what we wanted our loves to look like. I will never forget my images. One side was cement ground and a motionless cement me. On the other side there was grass, a sun shining and me standing with a smile holding a flower in my hands.
Something was triggered in me over that weekend. I started to think about women in the workplace. I started noticing that there was nothing ever mentioned about family and children, yet everyone had them. This lead me to believe that the workplace structure was designed at a time when there were very few women working. Women were home with the children taking care of everything for the household and for the husband. Therefore, 9 - 5 work hours worked just fine.
Today, we are living in the same structure. All of these years have passed. There are more women in the workforce than men, but the only thong that has changed is longer hours. We have new puzzle pieces that don't fit the old puzzle.
Ah ha, I thought I had a great idea. I would write a book that would encourage a change in the working hours structure. We do so much business overseas. Our structure causes delays. Their day is our night, ours their day. Why not have a shift that starts very early in the morning and another that starts later in the day. This way families could have the flexibility to do things like go to the doctor or meet with an accountant during the day. It just made sense to me. So I tried to write the book. Shortly there after, I realized that there was no way I could bare this kind of influence on my own.
It was at that time that a friend of mine introduced me to his friend, Sara. She introduced me to a movement for women called Jness (http://Jness.net). Through the Jness women's weekend trainings, I surmised that my idea would be a hurdle too high to cross. At that time, I started thinking the answer is female entrepreneurship.
I believe that all women should have the opportunity to support themselves financially and to take care of their children without relying on a man. As an entrepreneur, a woman can express her true nature all of the time. She can live a natural existence. I did some work as a member of Jness and realized that, yes, I can be myself as an entrepreneur, but I had no idea who I was? I had adopted the values of the men in my life, the company I worked for, society and the things I told myself I had to be. I had to have a great job, be thin, be fashionable, be married, etc.
One day I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw emptiness. I had all the trimmings, but I was hollow on the inside. It was time to dig deep and discover Amanda. It was time for Amanda to have her own thoughts, beliefs and feelings about the world. I did a values exploration with an incredible coach, Lauren. Slowly, I began to learn what I valued. And slowly I synthesized these values into my life. It was at that time that I thought maybe other women have had the same experience as me. In fact, I believe that most women don't even know they have the right to explore this and become true to their nature.
Imagine a world of female entrepreneurs expressing their true nature through their businesses. Without any worries about trying to be something that they are not.
I believe there are several steps to take as we move into entrepreneurship. We must discover our values. We must synthesize them into our lifestyle (or totally change our lifestyle to support our values), and we must work on developing the part of ourselves that are not yet consistent with our them.
In the spring of this year, I created http://DefineYourSpirit.com to guide women through the process of personal discovery, personal development and into entrepreneurship. I believe they are a threesome. I'm going through the processes everyday. There is so much that I want to develop further. Now I am working on my physical body and my mental health at the same time. I am becoming a runner and practice yoga and meditation daily. I'm working on Define Your Spirit, and everyday it grows closer to realizing my mission:
I want to inspire female entrepreneurship so that women can be women and families can be families. Thank you for reading my journal entry. I look so forward to connecting with you.
With love, Amanda http://defineyourspirit.com