A human energy
I have always been interested in why people behave the way they do. It led me to explore generational difference in the workplace. It drove my fascination with personality profiling and how people adapt to new circumstances. I followed my passion for coaching, as a way to help others explore themselves, and take action with clarity and certainty.
Yet one area I have grappled with for many years is the masculine and feminine energies. I researched the impact of testosterone and oestrogen on the brain, behaviours and cultures. I observed shifts in societal concepts of what it is to be a man or a woman. Remember the "new man" of the 90's, who was in touch with his feelings and happy to change nappies as much as he was playing sport with his tribe? The new man concept created waves in the minds of many men and women who had grown in a fixed gender based world and were being shaken by these "strong" women and "soft" men.
The post-covid awakening
Here we are in 2021 amongst the great resignation and economic turmoil. The conversations I am having with clients and peers is the same. There appears to be an awakening stirring. It's been happening for decades, but was assigned to the hippies, the tree huggers, spiritual and woke. Now, a re-awakening is happening in most people.
The lock-down challenged all of us to re-evaluate who we are when we aren't attached to our work identity. We are not our job title. When we work at home, we experience a different kind of energy. We faced our frustrations, fears, joys, likes and dislikes. We assessed what we loved and what we hated about our lives - because there was nowhere to escape our thoughts.
And now, as we re-emerge into "society", we emerge changed. There is a collective shift. Some want to return to their normal, but life before 2020 can not return. We see with new eyes and a little more enlightened. My great fear is that those that hold both power over us and a desire to return to the old world will win, unless we collectively resist and rebel.
And it is happening. So many people are now refusing to return to the office full time, actively searching for roles that create more balance, growth and passion. Roles that offer remote, hybrid or flexible working are getting the applicants. Those that don't are struggling.
I hear calls for more empathy, compassion, human leadership. I hear community, belonging, purpose and meaning when people plan their lives. I hear the words leadership over management. I hear creativity and innovation more than structure and control. These are the feminine energies that are being called for. The "soft" skills that I get called to train leaders in - the hardest skills of all in a masculine energy world.
Masculine and feminine energy myths
It's got nothing to do with being a man or a woman. We all have a mix of masculine and feminine energy within us. You might have heard of the Yin Yang, or light and dark energies. It's the concept that we all have 2 "opposing" energies within us which can feel like competition and conflict, but can also feel like balance.
We all have a dominant energy, which has nothing to do with whether you were born a man or a woman. That dominant energy informs how you show up in the world, but lean too heavily on it and it can be your downfall.
Everyone needs to nourish the less dominant energy within them to create balance.
So if you are a logical, analytical type, you may want to access your creativity.
If you are a fixer or rescuer, you might want to learn to let go of control and ask others for help.
If you are a listener, you might want to try speaking your own words and raising your own voice.
Masculine energies rebuilt the world in a post war world, where the world was demolished. We needed an energy to get things going again, and it worked to some degree. The western worlds got richer, but did we become healthier?
Masculine energy can be summed up in what we refer to as left brain thinking. They are the qualities we see in high testosterone individuals. It fuels higher testosterone levels in everyone around them. Both men and women can be dominant in masculine energy.
It looks like doing, action, building, structure and stability. It shows up as aggressive, pushing, telling, dominating, competition and control. It feels busy, logical, targets and goals. People with this energy show their love by protecting, guarding and fixing things and people.
This feels like the world of business in the 19th and 20th century. I hear echoes of "greed is good", "It's a dog eat dog world", "win at all costs". It also feels like growth, investment, building, goals and accumulation (of the material kind).
The feminine energy, or soft skills in the business world, feels very different. The 21st century has been pulling these energies forward as we ravage the planet, face increasing mental and emotional collapse and search for a different way of leading and existing.
It looks like being, creating, flexibility, and adaptability. It shows up as assertiveness, collaboration, listening, supporting, co-creation and respect. It feels like flow, trust, and compassion. There is still direction, but a different approach to getting there. People with this energy show their love by giving, supporting, caring and kindness.
The balance comes when both energies co-exist. Giving and supporting energies need to assert boundaries and protect their energy. Pushing and forceful energies need to balance with patience, and compassion.
When businesses do work for good, with purpose rather than focusing purely on profits, financial, personal, societal growth follows. Tapping into both energies in balance is how abundance and prosperity evolves.
The time is now to balance the soft and hard skills. Realise that we aren't left or right brained, but one brain. We aren't masculine or feminine, we are human.