Image Ability | Blog: Celebrating women and men
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One cannot help but see the resurgence of a new age of feminism: look at the published titles in the last years, the podcasts, the online communities, the new ‘she and hers’ language, the breadth of diversity and common ground of problems and solutions. Perhaps more importantly, there is an appetite to talk more openly about women’s matters across age and socio-economics. Womanhood has become a celebration in breadth and depth – and this is good.

This incredibly re-energising trend has awakened not only women but also the men they live or work with. As a result, the adage ‘beside every happy woman, there is a listening man’ (feel free to create your own version!) is more robust than ever.  This is even better to take notice of – as it opens minds and hearts in a time of profound change.

The Economist published an article recently referring to the chasm with some potential unwanted consequences:

….young men and women now increasingly inhabit separate spaces and experience separate cultures. Too often young people’s views are overlooked owing to their low rates of political participation, but this shift could leave ripples for generations to come, impacting far more than vote counts.

So, what can we all do about this?

Irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, geography or level of seniority, being heard and understood is ultimately grounded in sharing similar values, companionship and a more positive outlook on life. The fact that compassion and gratitude appeared to be back in fashion also helps. These are only a few ingredients to offset the toxic hustle and me-too culture, which fails to bring authentic value to how we live and run our businesses.

For a start, whatever attributes you choose for your version of the adage above, affirm them confidently. They are then likely to continue to stay valid and amplify with each and every personal experience. This will add to what is exceptional in all that we do – personally and in the groups to which we belong.

On this topic, I have three confessions to make:  

  1. Since we started Image Ability, we would have never thought of having more illuminating conversations about what it really means to be a professional at 20, 40 and over 50 with a more diverse range of colleagues and friends across a few cultures. Each and every one of them has been compelling, direct and perceptive. We treasure that.
  2. Those who don’t say anything are not necessarily uninterested. They may just be more welcoming when approached directly . . a few times. When we are not in the same room, we re-learn mutual nurturing the hard way. The ‘blessing’ of the online – and hopefully less about what The Economist alludes to.
  3. As a non-native English speaker (I have only spoken the language since I was ten years old), I have always been cautious about the use of words – and how they make me feel when I use them. At Image Ability, we apply ‘feeling’ to everything we do and write about.

So, we reflected on the past and decided to keep going in our quest for exceptional women and the men who listen; like a torch, they open new paths, new rooms, new ideas.

Our choice for ‘exceptional’ is to raise the bar simply because the more concerted action we take – as both women and men – the better we will become at finding them, appreciating, supporting, encouraging and empowering them and others like them. They are all around us.

A reminder of our definition:

Our definition of an ‘exceptional’ is a multifaceted human who works to empower her/himself and others. S(he) isn’t afraid to acknowledge her/his fears, doubts, and insecurities. Exceptional people work hard, unflinching in their belief in personal values and taking on challenges with strength, purpose and dignity.

The challenges of the pandemic have morphed into new versions of economic and personal struggles. For most, this is a continuum, with no break or signs of easing; if anything, some challenges are getting tougher. Yet, these exceptional people have faced them with determination, smart work, empathy, intuition, and resolve. To some, we owe our life or a breakthrough in business. Others are always on our side, candidly helping us achieve new things. Some we follow or admire from a distance.  

They could be exceptional for any reason; they ran a first marathon, had a major breakthrough improving life for those around them, supported a school or a neighbour in need, or were simply fantastic, supportive bosses. It can be ANY reason at all. 

The choice is yours so,  think this through and put some names forward, reach us by email or on LinkedIn.

From people working in the medical profession to those working from their homes while supporting one or two more generations dependent on their energy and inspiration. From CEOs keeping businesses running under challenging circumstances to those who started new ventures needing to know what lay ahead for them.  

These people are rarely likely to find time to celebrate or even think that they do or deserve anything special. So we wish to keep this initiative open to inspire each and any one of us who work with, support and depend on exceptional people to supercharge the goodness they create.

Keep watching out for them, tag them in LinkedIn if they are there. But don’t give up if the one you are searching for is nowhere to be seen or tagged! A name (possibly an image?) and a few words about what inspired your choice are enough.

Like-minded people can support and empower each other. This is what genuine allyship is.