Have you ever wondered why the most powerful male lawyer in your firm chose to date and marry his secretary, a stewardess he met on a flight, or the Barista at the Starbucks in the building downstairs?
For years, I too was curious about this phenomenon. These men were well educated, professionally quite powerful and very high-income earners who met single women in positions similar to theirs all day, every day. Yet, instead of choosing someone to become a “power couple” with, they chose to date and marry someone completely different, at the opposite end of the spectrum.
There are certainly any number of reasons for this of course. But, I believe in every instance, there is one commonality. Every woman they chose fully embodied her femininity and lead with qualities associated with being feminine, such as thoughtfulness, empathy, beauty, vulnerability, honoring inner wisdom and patience.
What I have seen over and over again is women lawyers tend to lead with traditionally masculine traits such as competition, independence, logic, force, dominance and power instead of leading with feminine ones. I believe this results from the very nature of their work which can be aggressive, contentious and adversarial, requiring them to fiercely protect the interests of others. I mean think about it, how many hours a year do you spend in a “war room?”
When a woman leads with masculine energy, she actually repels men from desiring a deeper connection with her because they (masculine) want to spend time with the opposite of who they are (feminine). They will speak to and treat a woman who leads with masculine energy . . . like another man. A woman leading with masculine energy also frustrates and confuses other women who crave sisterhood and caring (feminine) and not competition (masculine).
The conundrum comes in because there is an absolute need to be powerful and effective in their work, but they lack an understanding of how to embody femininity without coming across as weak and powerless; or flirtatious and inappropriate. This causes them to lose out on men who might love and adore them but instead compete with them or attempt to utterly destroy them in a legal battle.
I understand how truly devastating it is for women lawyers to work with a plethora of men, in a male-dominated profession, and yet cannot attract a man who will love and adore them. Many end up isolated and alone and never truly understand the reasons why.
Allow me to give you an example of how this might play out in trying to establish a personal relationship.
Some women lawyers lead with their accomplishments. They describe themselves almost like they are reciting a list, including where they work, where they went to school, their big professional wins, and how their laser sharp strategic focus makes them victors.
However, the more attractive and appealing way to share who you are is to describe your “why.” Why do you work for your current firm? Are your shared core values in alignment? Do they support causes and initiatives that matter to you personally? Why did you choose the law school you attended? Is there a family tie? Is your legal hero an alum? The biggest case you won, did the battle allow you to experience the very reason you went into the legal profession, perhaps to right a terrible wrong for a business, organization or family you believe in?
Your why is often at the core of your feminine.
As you read the qualities below, I share a few ways you can embrace and embody them and actually become the most powerful version of yourself as a lawyer because, in actuality, you already are feminine. You were born that way!
This quality embodies several component traits including nurturing, caring and consideration. Every human being responds to thoughtful words and deeds. At work, it may be something as simple as making your office environment feel nurturing and inviting. Have flowers in your office and conference room. (I love orchids. They are visually stunning, stand tall and have a feminine feel.) Purchase coffee cups that are colorful and beautiful. Arrange to provide food or light snacks for meetings. Make people feel welcomed and cared for and they will never forget you for it.
This trait manifests itself when you witness someone else’s suffering, feel their pain and do whatever you can to ease it. In the work environment, that might mean knowing a coworker is struggling and offering support to help them through it. Maybe their workload is too heavy or maybe they just need a kind word and a compassionate and confidential listening ear. Displaying empathy to someone in need will make the person feel supported and cared for and they will never forget you for it.
Beauty is always intentional. It never happens accidentally. “It is striking, but it does not strike.” It signals that you care about how others experience you.
There is a pleasantness to feminine beauty that simply does not exist in the masculine. Most men love, adore and appreciate it but they can never personally embody it.
This is why your femininity is actually the secret to being powerful. Men can never embody feminine beauty. You can.
You can certainly add more beauty to who you are as a woman at work. Why not add more color to your wardrobe? Hire a stylist to ensure you are wearing clothing that compliments your shape, size and honors your profession. You do not need to look like a woman in man’s clothing to be a powerful lawyer. You also don’t need the trappings of luxury to look powerful, beautiful and elegant. There is nothing more powerful than a confident woman, elegantly dressed, standing authoritatively in her positions of strength. You only need to tap into your own unique beauty and then elevate it.
For women lawyers, this one is especially hard. In your work, you can show no fear or weakness. Vulnerability means you may lose a case, lose a client and lose your professional reputation. I get it!
However, in your personal life, make room for vulnerability. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable will help you connect much more deeply with others. They get the chance to experience who you really are not simply what you do for work. You don’t have to be the best all the time, at everything. Allow others to shine. Your weaknesses make you relatable to other women and men.
YOUR INNER WISDOM
You know that “gut” feeling you get when something really good or really bad is about to happen, that is your inner wisdom. When you honor and listen to it you will avoid many problems before they come to fruition.
In your work, you are in a “fact and evidence based” profession. So honoring your inner wisdom might be a challenge for you. Sometimes that gut feeling is not based on logic or facts. But try it. It will serve you well and will take you out of the logic and fact driven mindset (masculine) into your being and feeling self (feminine).
Patience is not only a virtue, it is a skill, habit, and practice that develops and gets stronger and better over time.
Of the qualities listed above, I believe patience trumps them all. Patience requires you to S-L-O-W D-O-W-N and to check in with yourself before you react or respond. Patience creates space to allow things to happen naturally and to flow (feminine) without force (masculine).
Patience allows room for kindness and graciousness to flourish. And who isn’t attracted to kindness and graciousness? Aren’t they two beautiful words that warm your heart? They are magnetic qualities that people can never get enough of. In fact, they always remember when someone extended patience to them or lacked patience with them.
Finally, this is not a quality but it is something I strongly suggest you do often. Smile.
Smiling disarms people and immediately makes you and others feel better about connecting. Smiling says I see you, I acknowledge your humanity and I welcome you.
Thank you for reading my article. If you found it useful, please share it. So many women are confused about what it means to be feminine and do not understand how or why it really is the secret to being powerful.
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