Wendi McGowan-Ellis 0:10
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path To Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Marsha, welcome.
Marsha Clark 0:24
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 0:25
Yes, we had such an incredible interview last week with Raquel Daniels exploring her approach to building and maintaining her support system and her secret power. I really hope our listeners had a chance to catch that episode. And it was a great lead into today.
Marsha Clark 0:45
I couldn't agree more, Wendi. She is a great role model for so much of what we talk about here on the podcast, being authentic, powerful, and a great female leader. So yes, if our listeners haven't had a chance to catch last week's episode, it's definitely worth checking out.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:01
Exactly. So that brings us into today's episode, which was inspired by Raquel's reference to her super power, hence the show title today.
Marsha Clark 1:12
That's right. That's right. And I love that she, you know, described and referred to her personal mantra of, I can do hard things as a super power. I mean, that it's so simple and straightforward, and yet so powerful. And I hadn't even thought of framing a mantra like that as a super power. But now that I think of it, it's exactly the kind of thing we've done for years in our programs getting the participants and women to reflect on and draw from moments in their lives when they did, in fact, have to call upon their own personal power to do the hard things. And that's what we're gonna focus on today. We're going to unpack one of my favorite activities around exploring the personal super power or power sources that we as women can call upon.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 1:58
Exactly. So everybody get your pen and paper ready. Or if you're jogging on a trail, you're going want to re-listen to this episode, because it's going to be good. So we've talked about this activity before in a previous episode but we didn't go into the specifics of it. So do you mind, Marsha, refreshing everyone on the timing and placement of this activity that you're about to describe, and why it's one of your favorites.
Marsha Clark 2:28
This activity is something that we do in our workshops very early on, usually in the morning of the first day when we've got a multi-day program that we're delivering. And we also do it in stand-alone programs where we're specifically exploring power as a topic all by itself. And we refer to this activity during our episode, our podcast episode called "From Strangers To Sisters", because it's a powerful way to connect people at a, what we consider to be a deep and meaningful level, quickly and authentically. And this connection is part of what builds the psychological safety, which was the focus of that episode and which is so important when you're creating group dynamics, and interpersonal relationships. So we refer to it as our power sources activity. And we use it as a way for everyone to introduce themselves to the group. So not only do we use it in our workshops, it's also in our book, you know, so that people have access to it in a variety of ways. And if you have the book, "Embracing Your Power" is the name of the book, and it's on page 25. So if you want to pull that book out and refer to that while we're talking here, that would be perhaps a useful thing for you.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 3:39
Exactly. So we have book activities. I absolutely forgot that you put it in this book. And this is so cool that we're going to give everyone a chance to not only work through the exercise, but you're leading them through this exercise. And our listeners get to experience that process, this process of exploring their power or sources of power, super powers as Raquel calls them, and see what they come up with.
Marsha Clark 4:04
That's right. So let's do it. All right, everyone. So I want you to think about a time in your life when you felt powerful. And I have to tell you, Wendi, as we've done this around the world, and over the years, that the fact that women get to think about when they've had a powerful moment is, sometimes, this is the very first time that's ever happened. So I just want to also acknowledge for our listeners that if you're going "Wait a minute, a powerful moment? I've never thought about when I've had a powerful moment". That's that's pretty routine. So I also want to say, and we offer this up for every time we do this activity, for the mothers out there we're going to give it to you that giving birth is probably one of the most powerful moments any of us have ever had in that regard. And so we're going to give you that one and would invite you to think of another one. So as you think about this powerful moment, recreating this powerful moment in your life, in your mind, if you can, capture a few notes describing that time. And so, you know, it could have been 10 years ago, it could have been 10 minutes ago. So there's not any time-bound situation around all of this. And it can be personal or it can be professional.
But we want you to get really specific about what was going on. Where were you? Who was there with you if someone else was there? And then describing what were you feeling emotionally? Was it high energy? Was it passion? Was it fear? Was it joy? Was it you know, just pure angst of the moment is what I call them. And then what were you feeling physically? Was your jaw clenched? Were your fists tightened? Were there butterflies in your stomach? Whatever it might have been, we really want you to get clear so that you're practically reliving the experience. So I ask our listeners, are you there?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 6:10
I've got it. Yeah.
Marsha Clark 6:07
Okay. All right. Great. So next, I want you to think about what were your sources of power that helped you get to that moment, or that you accessed in that moment. In other words, what helped you achieve and experience this powerful moment, and I want you to write down as many things as possible. You know, things don't just happen coincidentally. It's not just about luck. We've done things, you know, we've prepared, we rely on our education, our knowledge, our experience, we talk to a mentor, a coach, a friend, a boss, a champion, we pray about it, we, I mean, there's all kinds of things that we rely upon, that help us get to those moments. So hopefully, everyone in our audience has been able to think of a situation and you've been able to capture, you know, where were you, what happened, who was there, emotions, physical feelings, and then power sources. And, you know, what was the situation you thought of it? You said you were ready and so what was the situation for you and what were those power sources for you?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 7:21
So the situation that, I'm thinking of two different situations. One was when I was in high school so I'm not even really going to talk about that. Okay, I'm going to talk about one that happened extremely recently. And it was in the form of a text from another woman who I respect and who I have a relationship with, but it's not the most trustworthy relationship. There have been some things that have not specifically happened to me, but have happened to others who I respect and have happened around me. And I received a text from this woman. During an evening, I received three, directing me to do something. And then the following morning, I received another one asking me why I hadn't done something by the specific time that she had requested the night before. And the circumstances were such that she had no authority directing me. It was absolutely stepping into my responsibilities and my understanding of my role in the situation. I'm not going into specifics... reason.
Marsha Clark 8:37
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 8:37
But the text that came in the morning was such that, if she had just gone and done a little homework like taking five seconds on Facebook, she would have seen that I had already done it, first of all, and number two, that she didn't have the power or the authority to ask me to do it anyway. And so I literally in the process of responding back to her with a clear "Hey, you've overstepped your line..." kind of message, I went back to that powerful situation in high school and almost started hyperventilating. Like my hands went numb, my teeth went numb. It took me from zero to 180 miles an hour in my heart in like a nanosecond of receiving that text. But I want to talk about that because the power was in me responding back firmly, not insultingly, not "How dare you. Who do you think you are..." blah, blah, blah. Just a very clear "Hey, first of all, this was done by the time that you wanted it done. Second of all, you didn't have the authority to tell me to do this in the first place." And I'm just leaving it there. I didn't want to say and third, who do you think you are... I just left it there. So it was very professional, but it was definitely a boundary. And within 10 seconds she's trying to call me and I immediately sent it to voicemail because I didn't want to lose my power by yelling or having an emotional meltdown moment. There's my...
Marsha Clark 10:24
So so many points in all of that. So one, you did not let someone else's, really ineptness if I can phrase it in a broad way, steal you, steal your emotions, steal your mood for the day, steal just the mindset with which you're going to approach it. So you did not give your power away, which is a very powerful moment, right, the fact that I'm holding on and retaining that power. Now you went back, you said. So we got them, my teeth were numb and you know, my hands were numb and all of that physical feelings and everything. When I'm in that place, I just tighten up. Every ounce of me, every muscle tightens up, my everything tightens up. So when you went back to high school and you know, thinking about that, what were the things that prompted you to remain calm, to be professional, to recognize even that the timing was not right for you to pick up the phone and have the conversation, you needed to let some moments pass to let the emotions you know, come back down, if you will, or have that, you know, count to 10 kind of moment. So what were your sources of power in that moment?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 11:38
My sources were a clear recognition that my boundaries were being invaded and not allowing that to happen. Another source of power for me was knowing that even if she had had the authority to direct me, I did what was asked on time before it was, so I was in the right there. Two ways that I was in the right, this is a clear invasion of my boundaries, and number two, I did it by the time that you had requested anyway. So even if you had the authority, it's done. And now it's on you for being inept enough to not check that it had been done. Another boundary for me was just, frankly, the reaction of "I'm too old for this s.... fill in the blank. Just no. I'm too mature. I'm too much of a professional. I'm not someone who's just fresh off the farm. So that was another source of power for me.
Marsha Clark 12:48
So one was clarity. Right. I mean, I was very clear about what I had done, I had done what I was asked to do, what her authority was. So clarity was important. The professionalism, which I know is a value of yours, I mean, it's kind of redundant when you say, what is your one of your professional values? Professionalism. But yes, it's the determination that you're going to honor that value, and in this case, be the bigger person by being clear and stating clearly what you had done and resolving the issue at hand. And I would also say that there's a knowledge of what your boundaries are, maybe what those triggers had been in the past, and self managing yourself in a way that really helps you to not become the high school girl or the mean girl or the who-do you-think-you-are girl. So being really clear, this to me, Wendi, has a whole lot to do when we talk about the title of the book, it's acknowledging our power, understanding our power, acknowledging that you had power with clarity. And with timing, right, you know, when you were going to respond, when you were not going to talk verbally, I mean, even that timing component. And then the courage to speak with that clarity and the value of your professionalism. So I mean, I think all of those things were at play.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 14:15
You're so spot on, because, as it turns out, I will probably see her, I know I will see her in the very near future. And so that was another thing that was framing my responses and in acknowledging of, okay, I'm not going to burn this bridge, I'm going to behave like most men do. Most men have an argument, a conversation, a throwdown, and then they go have a beer five minutes later. That's how I'm choosing to behave. And so that is a source of power for me also.
Marsha Clark 14:49
So kind of calling on that masculine part of yourself that says, I'm not going to take this personally and I'm not going to...
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 14:55
We're going to move on.
Marsha Clark 14:56
I'm not gonna go whimper around with my tail tucked between my legs. I'm not going to gossip about it and all that stuff. Right. Nice, nice, nice. And, again, I give you great kudos for that. And, you know, we have run this exercise for a lot of years. And I've heard everything from a powerful moment being I was the first in my family to walk across the stage and get my college degree, in some cases, even high school degree. You know, in others, I've heard I finally found the courage and the strength to leave an abusive relationship. You know, so it runs the gamut of what our powerful moments might be, standing up to a bully or standing up to a boss or standing up to what I believe is not in service to a larger good, or, you know, is an ego driven something. So I really appreciate your points there.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 15:49
Yes. Well, thank you. So I know you've run this exercise for more than 20 years in your programs. Are our responses typical? Are there common themes that you've heard over the years?
Marsha Clark 16:02
Yeah, it's a great question. What we've learned along the way with this activity is, yes, there are some themes. First, remember that we're typically doing this exercise pretty much within the first couple of hours so it's a bit of an icebreaker. So some of it may be a little safe, if you will, both breaking the ice on the topic of power, and with one another because the power stories of women that women tell are, can often be, gut wrenching. And I always find them quite inspiring. But it creates a sense of awe, wow. We always are more impressed with other people's stories than our own. There's a lot of mutual respect, wow, you faced that or, you had that opportunity, you made the most of it, or you worked your way through it. And it's almost a reverence among the women in the room. Because I want to give, step back just a minute. Many of the women that come into the room have never been in a room of women only. And so as a result, when we find ourselves as being the only woman or one of few women in the room, we're always kind of on pins and needles, knowing how we're supposed to show up and act and all that. So here we are hearing other women tell stories that we can relate to. And so this reverence is sort of the wow, I'm in a room of people like me. And I can tell my story, and I can be me.
And that's a part of the common theme that's going on here, too. And as I said earlier, for most women, they've never really considered their achievements or successes in the context of power, or thinking about it as power. And so when we turn the question around and ask how they achieved what they achieved, and we call that, what are your power sources, what did they use or do to create that powerful moment, they go "Aha, I've never broken it down! I've never thought about it as sequential", or "I just may have reacted in the moment". And I will tell you, I've had impromptu moments, or spontaneous moments where it just came out of me. And, you know, one of the things we encourage is, well just think about that, do some reflecting on that, and begin to unpack that, as we often call it here. So that's a part of the "aha" too, is wow, this just happened and others have this experience. And I thought about it, and there was a method, you know, to helping me get to that place. And that's the repeatable part that we want to help women achieve.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 18:33
Why do you think that happens?
Marsha Clark 18:36
Yeah, I think the first part of the the exercise, just think of a powerful moment, is women, pretty much everyone has at least one experience in their lives when they felt powerful. Now do we think about it, and like you said, you went to high school. No offense, but that's been a while.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 18:53
Yeah. Yeah, it's been five minutes.
Marsha Clark 18:56
It's been a lot longer for me than you, but you know, it's been a minute. And yet, we can still remember those, right? And so, you know, you may need to dig into the vault a little bit and go back a few years, but everyone typically can come up with that example. And then the second part of the activity in the what were your sources of power, can often trip women up because they've had a hard time attributing their success specifically to something they did or did directly. So you know, this idea of if something goes right it surely, clearly it's someone else's. You know, what was the reason for that? Not me.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 19:35
Yeah, what's so what's an example of that?
Marsha Clark 19:37
So women will share a story about let's just say a big project that they were a part of that that went particularly well or they'll say that they were the first person as I said, in their family to graduate with a degree or maybe travel internationally or something like that. And we've had even women share stories of being elected to public office or taking a public and visible stand against misogyny or racism. And, you know, the list is long. And as I said, very inspiring. And it's such an incredible way to build appreciation and empathy very quickly with a group of people who you know, an hour or two ago had never even met. And the way that we do the exercise in the workshop is that everyone shares his story. So you don't get to really pass on this. And you know, no story is too small, no story is too big. So even the women who are a bit more introverted, or you know, struggling, maybe to think about it, and you know, then share it with everybody, by the time they've heard everyone else's story, they are able to think of one for themselves, because your story reminded me of this that happened in my life and that kind of thing. So, you know, recognizing that when we see other women owning, acknowledging, understanding and owning that power that they have, or that powerful moment that they have, gives me both the insight and the courage to begin to understand and embrace my own power.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 21:04
Wow, okay, goosebump moment thinking about all of those stories about powerful moments. So then why is the second part of the exercise more challenging, that part where you ask about the sources or the source or sources of their power?
Marsha Clark 21:20
Right. Well, women have been conditioned to remove ourselves from our own successes. We're natural collaborators and so often, we don't attribute success or powerful moments to ourselves. And I hear it all the time, it was a great win for the company. But when I asked what was their power source that helped them achieve that win they start giving credit to other people, or you know, the situation, or, I just got lucky. I mean, you know, that one just drives me crazy. There's a quote I used to have on the wall when I was working in the training center at EDF and it was by Gary Player, a South African golfer. And he said, "The harder you work, the luckier you get." And I think about the many wonderful women that I know how true that is. So luck? I don't think so.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 21:20
Marsha Clark 21:20
And so by not acknowledging or owning our part of our successes, it is a great example, and a visible example of where we give our power away without even realizing it.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 22:20
Yeah, I know that sometimes that's been my own experience. And it's, I'm sure, at least one time pretty much the experience of all the women that I've worked with in the past and today.
Marsha Clark 22:33
Right, right. It's a tried and true and I've done done this around the world. And there are you know, the stories, they may change slightly given cultural nuances and that sort of thing. But the essence of the stories are similar, and we're going to spend an entire podcast and maybe even two, we're still in the development of that, on gender differences. And you know, this being one of them and we'll dive deeper into that phenomena of, when something goes wrong we point inward, and when something goes right we point outward. But you know, I want to stay focused on the topic of, you know, our power tools and sources on this. So I'll just offer that as a teaser for now since it is related to what we're talking about. And I will draw this contrast that men do tend to internalize success and externalize failures. So, you know, if a project goes well, the man thinks, man, I did a great job. And if it doesn't go well, he thinks about all the external factors that led to missing the mark, you know, sort of not enough time, unclear requirements, breakdowns in communication, didn't have enough budget, didn't have enough people, you know. It's all outside of him. And when I use an example like this, please know that this is the bell shaped curve on research, not every man or not every woman. But you know, with great regularity, the majority of men and the majority of women are falling into this category. And so for women it's just the opposite. A project goes well, and she looks at all those external reasons for it, great team, supportive sponsors, you know, great customer to work with. And if the project goes haywire, she goes straight to how she contributed to the problem, her role in whatever didn't go right. She takes it all on. It's a heavy, heavy burden to carry.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 24:19
Right. Well, those are going to be great future episodes. I'm sure it will be two because there's just a lot going on there.
Marsha Clark 24:26
That's right. That's right!
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 24:28
So let's go back to the list of power sources or tools. I'd be curious to hear what our listeners came up with on their lists. And I'm guessing that their list would be probably pretty aligned with what you've seen over the years of running this exercise. So what are some examples of the power tools women usually give? And is there a set of common answers?
Marsha Clark 24:54
Yeah, so some of the themes that emerge, and there's a few outliers, but typically you're going to see something along the lines of education, experience, or expertise. So I, you know, studied this in school, I've been to a class, you know, I've got 20 years of experience in this area or something. I may even be the subject matter expert in it. The second category is somewhere around family or relationships or network. And, you know, that's where I get to a parent, a sibling. It could be, you know, a grandparent, or aunt or uncle, I've heard all of those. But the relationships can be boss, mentor, coach, clergy, therapist, I mean, there's a lot that goes on in that, or a network of people who may have similar experiences to me, but but or similar roles that I'm in, or challenges that I have, but who may have experience or perspective from a different company, a different industry or something. And then quite honestly, there's the patience that is often coupled with persistence. By golly, I'm not, I'm not letting go till this thing is done. So whether you call it a drive for outcomes, or just a drive, tenacity. Another one is kindness, the kindness that I've shown to others that has allowed our relationship to be the kind of relationship I want and that has created powerful moments or kindness that people have shown to me in helping support me through it.
And the faith, or resilience, you know, I often see faith and prayer and my relationship with a higher power comes up often. And I will differentiate, I've had it come up almost every single time with women, and I rarely see it come up when I'm working with all men. So it's an interesting thing. And I don't know what to make of that. But it is an anecdotal observation. And then there's this sense of fairness or justice. So you know, what this is the right thing to do, or this needs to get done in order to make this point. And, you know, then the last one I would tell you as a theme is sort of the pride, or, I'm going to prove this to myself that I can do this, or you told me I couldn't and therefore by golly, I'm gonna find a way to make sure to show you, right? And so it is whether you can call that competitiveness and not in a, I'm competing with you but more in the I want to compete with myself and do better than I did the last time. So there's an aspect of that. And so those are the common themes that we see.
Now, sometimes women share some less common sources like financial stability, or simply money. And, and I often have to sort of present this and and ask the group what they think about it, you know. And I see there's a difference between money and financial security because financial security for women is often, it gives me a freedom and a flexibility that enables me to provide a good quality of living for my family, send my kids to good schools give to philanthropic causes. So it's not just money, it's enough. I don't have to have the most, you know, I don't want more than I deserve. But I do want to have enough to be able to do the things I want to do in my life. So that's the financial security. And, you know, if you look at, I may stay in a job longer because I need the money and I'm afraid I won't be able to get it otherwise. And to me, that's where lack of financial security or lack of that I give my power away to those situations or organizations rather than saying, you know what, I'm really good at what I do, I'm gonna go figure out how to go find that next job, or that next role or that next opportunity. And that's when I'm holding on to my power and not not staying in a bad or toxic situation or culture because I'm afraid.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 29:09
Exactly. So what are some less common sources of power? The outliers, as you call them.
Marsha Clark 29:16
Yeah. Yeah. So things like competitiveness. Women don't often, we don't often think of ourselves as competitive. It took me a long time I have to tell you. I am competitive, but I was in my 40's before I finally admitted it.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 29:29
Before you embraced that?
Marsha Clark 29:32
I like to win and not just do better than. That was a myth I told myself. I pretended I wasn't competitive when I was competitive. So or strength, literally physical strength show up again. And you know, it's when I'm working out or when I'm feeling strong, physically or healthy. And you know, in that regard, I know I'm eating right. I know I'm getting enough sleep and that gives it helps me to think clearer and I just feel more confident and courageous in that. And when someone brings that up, others might go well, you know, that's right. I hadn't thought of that as a source as a source of power. And we've had some women cite revenge as a source of power.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 30:11
And I think that's a whole episode in and of itself!
Marsha Clark 30:15
That definitely could be and there's usually the, you know, there is this kind of wave of nervous laughter because it might be, well, maybe I've used that too. But the whole idea behind the activities about looking at the sources without judgment, because you know what? A lot of different things can propel us to do a lot of stuff we didn't think we could do, right? So as soon as we start judging those power sources, we begin to lose the opportunity to make a deliberate choice about accessing it. And, you know look, can you say, I'm not proud of this, but I did it and and it got the good result, right. So now I want to learn from that and figure out if that's really how I am going to do that again, and was it manipulative, or was it in service and all that kind of stuff. So and I will tell you too what I often bring up. What do you think about femininity as a source of power, and as a power tool?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 31:07
Okay, so I'm going to jump in on two things. Number one, I want to go back to the word "revenge", because I know that that is lighting up a lot of our listeners right now. It's lighting me up, because I used to have this, you know, one of those pithy coaster things that you have 'Living well is the best revenge". And so I want to offer to those of you who, when Marsha said the word revenge, went, ooh, ooh, I like that word. Like, if that gave you kind of a little tingle, there are different ways. We're not talking about going out and stalking someone or, you know, that evil revenge. We're talking about taking that emotion and turning that for yourself. Living well is the best revenge, like being better is the best revenge. So I just want to put that out.
Marsha Clark 32:01
I love that, Wendi.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 32:03
Because of what you just said earlier, as soon as we start judging power sources, we lose the opportunity to make a deliberate choice about accessing it. That's how I want to offer that. And now I want to give a comment about your using femininity as a power tool. That offers up all kinds of emotions in me as well. And because I think it seems to, a lot of us think that using our femininity as a power tool is taboo, especially in the workplace.
Marsha Clark 32:40
Yeah, this is one of those words, right. Femininity. And so when we deny our femininity, and what I mean by that is being our best authentic woman, girl selves. That's what I'm saying. I'm not, I want to be really clear that I'm not advocating that we use our sex or our sexuality. And I see things all the time on, you know, Facebook, you know, various social media platforms, where a woman gets stopped by the cops and he goes back to the car to check and all of a sudden he comes back and she's this sexualized figure and all of a sudden she gets out of her ticket. Those make me sick and I want to throw up I have to just tell you. Now so I want to be really clear about the difference and we usually have a very energetic conversation when we talk about this because when we hear femininity, we often do hear the implication of sexuality. And so this is a place where we can have that really hard, hard and not often talked about conversation around it. And, you know, on more than one occasion, it's not as uncommon as you think in a leadership program with a roomful of women, that we can talk about how they've used flirting or flattery or wardrobe or crying to gain power or feel powerful in certain situations. Now I've heard it. There's the idea of using those things intentionally or there's the situation where someone took it as flirting or I was just being nice and flattered you and all of a sudden, it took on a whole other meaning. So there's both the intentional and there's the accidental, if you will. I guess I would use it in that way.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 34:27
Yeah. Yeah, flirting. Flattery. Wardrobe. Crying, that's an interesting one also. But let's talk about the wardrobe for a second because that's giving me a flashback to the 80's shoulder-padded power suits and you know that time when we all ran around trying to look like men in the in the workplace.
Marsha Clark 34:50
Because the book about how we should dress was written by a man. Okay, one of those things. So, we've all heard about power colors and power suits and you know, choosing the clothing that makes you feel good and virtually invincible. I had a woman I think I've said this on one of our other podcasts, look good, feel good, do good. Right? Sort of that executive presence kind of thing. And so you know, that's an example of how we can use our clothing as a source of power. And I want to share a story about a woman who talked about her Victoria's Secret experience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 35:29
Marsha Clark 35:30
So this was early in the power sub programs and some of the early early programs we did. And she said, no, and this was upon reflection, she said, and she was going back to the 80's when we all wore suits that look like men's made out of the same fabric. We just often wore a skirt instead of a pair of pants, and we wore a rosette tie instead of a necktie. And so she said I found that I could not go through the mall without going into Victoria's Secret. And she said, I've never been interested in that store, but it was like a magnet drawing me in. And she said, I kept thinking about it and thinking about it and I couldn't figure out what was really going on. And I finally realized, I wanted to be a woman underneath that man-like suit. Ah. And so she was trying to get back in touch with that femininity that we had to mask because they told us to act like men, talk like men, you know, be like men, dress like men. Now we all know that didn't work for us because that was out of stereotype and they didn't like us then either, kind of thing. And so to me, it was a fascinating story, though, to think about how our psyche is saying, where is that person? Where's the feminine part of me, knowing that we all have feminine and masculine in us, but we were being asked to really expose and intensify the masculine, when that was not who we truly were.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 36:51
Marsha Clark 36:52
I just, I found that a fascination.
I think and I love the idea that something that can be that feminine and sexy, if you will, is also a source of power for her mentally, because she knew she added on underneath. I love that. So what are some other unique power sources that people share?
Yeah. So we've talked about this, you know, and thinking about it in terms of some of our power tools, and I want everybody to think about this for a minute. If a super power as we talked about it in this is giving us power, then what else can you think of that energizes you? So it might be exercise, and that could be walking, or it could be lifting, or it could be you know, Pilates or hot yoga, or whatever. That's a source of power. And that's an unusual thing, and somewhat unique. It could be eating well, right, knowing that I'm putting healthy things in my body makes me feel stronger. You know, getting enough sleep, I mean, goodness gracious, so that my brain works more clearly, quite honestly. You know, being outside, taking a walk, hiking, just something where I'm breathing fresh air or see a beautiful view. I mean, it reinvigorates us and gives us back a strength and a core. I will tell you deep, deep laughs and fun times with friends where I just came back from a weekend with my high school girlfriend. So we do this once a year and we had skipped a year and oh my gosh, and there's laughter and there's tears, but it is falling-off-the-chair laughing and it can be from from something that happened in eighth grade. I mean, you know, but it still brings us back to that place. And it's just like a release that lets me let go of some of the crazy and just be light in that moment.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 38:41
Yeah, I love that.
Marsha Clark 38:42
And, you know, there's also the last one I'll share with you is sharing a favorite beverage with someone that you love. I mean, and I'm not suggesting you've got to go get loaded or any of that kind of stuff. But I mean just those, what can be a tender moment or, you know, reminds me of our, you know, the night you proposed or you know, any of that kind of thing that brings back a loving, tender memory that touches me and my heart in a way makes me want to be that self again.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 39:11
Exactly, exactly. So power sources literally can be as diverse as the people listing them.
Marsha Clark 39:16
Yep. That's the short answer, but they usually are. And, you know, are there some of those common sources? Yes. And there's some comfort in that commonality because it connects us, right? And then there's permission, in a way, to use those without guilt, right, recognizing that they are common and available to me. And then on the other hand, when women share their examples of the power sources that are less common, those unconventional ones, that creates whole new possibilities for people thinking about I've never thought about that. I think now, but and because once we name it, we can access it and that's the power of that. And you know, listening to the stories of people who've had different life experiences, who've walked different paths, can help expand your understanding of where people get their power. And for women, it can be even incredibly empowering to discover that their sources of power are, even though they may attribute them to the external, are in the end, a product of their own creativity, their own intentionality, their own planning, their own hard work, and so on. So to acknowledge and own their power or be willing to explore and access those new sources of power, they describe it as a breakthrough moment or one of those "aha" moments.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 40:34
Yeah, yeah. So you just reminded me of one of my favorite stories that I've heard you tell in the past. It's the story of the artist in one of your programs, and how she introduced herself. Would you mind sharing that so our listeners can join in?
Marsha Clark 40:50
Absolutely. This was class two, class two. So 20 years ago. This was a woman, and I'm going to tell you her name. She has since passed away and I love her dearly. Karen Holt was her name. And so imagine the first morning of a 19 day program. We had a roomful of women who didn't know each other, and so they were from all walks of life. And, you know, as we work our way around the circle, as we sit in the circle to have these introductions, you know, the typical, my name is Sarah, I'm the Senior VP of XYZ bank, and, you know, blah, blah, blah, all of that, and you know, lots of women with impressive titles and, you know, accomplished women. And we get pretty much to the end, almost to the last person and, and this tall, quiet, beautiful middle-aged woman says, "I'm Karen, and I'm just an artist." Just. Yeah. And in that moment, I mean, I just, I go quiet. I was struck by her words. This is a woman who painted life-size oil portraits that we're stunning and were hanging in buildings of people you would know and recognize if you lived in this area. And she was a personal friend of one of the facilitators of our program, and that's how she had been invited to attend and so on. And in that moment, after listening to the credentials and the pedigrees of all the other women in the room, she had determined that her work, her talent, her gifts, her strengths as an artist, were "just". "I'm just an artist."
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 42:37
I'm almost crying. That's really, really heartbreaking.
Marsha Clark 42:42
And hear how many times we, as women use "just". Oh, yeah, I'm just a teacher. I'm just a this, I'm just a that. Because we see everybody else as bigger, better, more impressive. And we don't recognize or value, or much less embrace our own power. When we attribute that powerfulness not only to things outside ourselves that can impact what we do, but thinking everyone else is more than we are. And Karen, Karen quickly learned that not only did she have power, she had what we call, we ended up calling unique super powers. She you know, she was an artist and a painter. She had written a book of poetry. This is a woman who even before she came in our class, had been on Oprah. Yeah. Okay?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 43:34
And she said she's just an artist.
Marsha Clark 43:38
Just an artist. And what she learned was that her empathy, her openness, her vulnerability, her ability to listen to a concept and, you know, create beautiful analogies, metaphors, visual images that deepen the learning of everyone else around her. These abilities were her super powers and they were uniquely hers in a room of, we called it newfound sisters, right, the tribe that didn't have all that. And she became a teacher and a mentor to so many. She taught us how to do cloud journaling. I mean she took us outside and connected us with nature in a way, and had people drawing things that they had never thought they could draw. And, you know, I'll never forget the video montage that we made for her class graduation and it was filled with, you know, the year's worth of photos and music and memories. And in the end the group, the class that put this video together, and their last words were "And there's no such thing as just an artist."
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 44:45
Oh, what a great story!
Marsha Clark 44:47
It was a beautiful, beautiful moment.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 44:49
Well, so as we start to wrap up here, Marsha, what do you want to make sure our listeners take away from today's episode?
Marsha Clark 44:57
Yes. The first one is when we don't recognize our own power, when we think our success comes from outside ourselves and we don't give ourselves credit for that, we are selling ourselves short. So we can impact that, we can control that, we can change that, where we begin to recognize our successes and powers. When we reflect on our wins our successes, and we and when we look at them through that lens of power sources, we begin to own our power and to embrace our power. But it takes a moment to stop and think. And that's why we put this exercise in the book, it's why we put the exercise in our programs because we want to help bring that from the unconscious subconscious to the conscious, because I can't embrace it if I don't even acknowledge that I have it.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 45:51
Marsha Clark 45:52
And so in addition to embracing our power, we can look for new sources of power. The tools that we see that other people are using, both men and women, that they're using to succeed that we hadn't even considered before. So that's another possibility. And it can be skills, expertise, relationships, reciprocity, resilience, the list just goes on and on. And one of the reasons that we ask people to make the list as long as possible, we then type that up and give it to everybody. Because when we have powerless moments, we want to be able to draw upon that list of power sources, because we're gonna have powerless moments, right, when we are down and out. The choice point for us is not whether we're gonna have them, it's whether we're gonna live in them and wallow in them and stay in them and, you know, make a purchase. I say rent that space don't buy.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 46:48
Right. Right. Exactly.
Marsha Clark 46:49
And, you know, so make it as rich as possible. And I want to tell a story here if I can. This was another woman in the program, and so I was doing coaching work with her. And I called her one day at three o'clock for our scheduled coaching time. And she quickly says, "Can you call me back in 15 minutes?" And I said sure. She was the CEO of her own company and so I knew she always had a lot going on. So I just, you know, sure I'll call you back. So I call her back in 15 minutes, and I say what's going on? And so she tells me. They were a growing small-to-midsize company growing quickly. And she said, Well, you know, that RFP that request for proposal that we were bidding on, and we spent eight months and it was going to really take our company to the next level and so on. We found out this morning that we lost it. I said, Oh, did you have to tell the team? And she goes, oh no, this coaching call is going to be how I tell the team because I haven't figured that out yet. And I said well, what was 15 minutes? And she said, "Well, like you taught us, I was having a pity party. And I'd given myself 30 minutes and I wasn't going to shortchange myself." Now, just think about the brilliance of that. I was having a pity party, I was having a powerless moment. I was feeling down and out. I was crushed. Now, for me to just say, suck it up, put your big-girl panties on... I hate all that stuff.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 48:15
Marsha Clark 48:15
Feel your feelings. Yes, for goodness sakes, feel your feelings. They're legitimate. And you deserve and earn and you're a human if you have them. So, but the choice point is not to live there, to stay there. And so she said, I gave myself 30 minutes and I wasn't going to shortchange myself. I loved it. I've used that story and tell that story many times, because I think it's a brilliant story of how to handle some of this. So, you know, one of my ongoing favorite power sources is Brene Brown. I love her work. It's inspiring, she is, her words are just amazing. So I am challenging you to dare greatly and be willing to expand your own sources of power. So paying attention, noticing, asking and talking with other people about that, you know, how did you get there, and then listen carefully for those things because they are available to you 9 times out of 10.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 49:07
Exactly. Well, this is making me want to go back and get to this part of the book yet again. For those of you listening, it'll be the third or fourth time. But to put names to the things that I'm accessing, and you're really you know, by going through these podcasts with you, Marsha, you're helping me personally walk through this journey yet again, and reinforce those things in my brain so that I can show up in those circumstances like what I described earlier and in the best way possible.
Marsha Clark 49:41
You know, I'm with you. I tend to go back to my tried and true, trusty you know, tools, but every time I have a conversation with someone else about it, it reminds me again and so even my trusty tool list is becoming longer because the more I go to those tools and use them, those power sources and recognize them for what they are, they're more accessible to me. And I was talking with a couple of women yesterday because I'm going to do some work in their company. And they said, you know, Marsha, on these podcasts, I stop them, and I repeat them, and I back up, and I write it down. And I go to the book, and so I mean, there's all of that. It reinforces itself in many different ways, and I love that.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 50:22
It does. I mean, and I love this episode that we talked about such diverse answers. And it creates an entirely new way of recognizing and tapping into power sources that people may have not considered before. Or they did it, but they hadn't named it. And so therefore, with the naming of it, it expands people's definitions of and access to power.
Marsha Clark 50:45
That's exactly right. And, you know, as I say, I included this in the book for those reasons. Stop a moment. Take a moment. And what I will tell you is, if you're reading the book as part of a book club, or a lean-in circle, or an employee resource group, or something like that, not only are you getting the benefit of it from your own stories, in your own sources, in your own experience, but when you are able to share that it is inspiring to hear other women's stories. And it's also inspiring to hear your own. You know when these women are telling their stories, there might be tears, but they're tears of pride. They're tears of depth. They're tears of meaning. And I don't care who you are, when you're touched at that level, be it from what you hear from someone else or what you're saying on behalf of yourself, that's powerful stuff. And even recognizing the power of that is a huge way of acknowledging, understanding, owning and embracing your power.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 51:52
Oh, wow. Okay. I'm having a little moment here. This was an amazing episode. Marsha, thank you so much, and listeners, you got the goods today. Thank you for joining us on this journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please download, subscribe and share this podcast. You know how much you're getting out of Marsha during these chats. And please visit her website, MarshaClarkandAssociates.com for links to all the tools that we talked about today. And especially a link to her book, "Embracing Your Power" page 25, on page 25. But you can also subscribe to Marsha's email list so you can stay up to date with everything in her world and her social media.
Marsha Clark 52:39
Well, thank you very much Wendi. You know I love every one of these. I've done it forever and ever, this teaching, studying, researching, learning, sharing. And yet every time it just deepens it inside of me after even all these years. And so I appreciate the opportunity to share this information and truly hope that it helps the women and the listeners. And so please do let us know what you're thinking, how you're feeling about all of this. And we hope you'll keep listening and you'll tell your friends, and as always, I want to do this for you and I want us to do this for one another. Here's to women supporting women!