There’s a popular Esquire Magazine article called The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master. It’s fun in a predictable sort of way. And of course, there’s stuff about baseball, and tying neckties, and other things that most of the extraordinary men in my life could care the least about.
It got me thinking about the happiest, coolest, most successful women I know. And how they would take the question of mastery about 40,000 leagues deeper than neckties and baseball.
In fact, it dawned on me that the burning desire beneath my outward goals is almost always the mastery of one of the following skills. The goals themselves – be they money, fitness, accomplishment, etc – are really the means to becoming a student of something much much cooler.
So, here are 9 Skills Every Woman Might Want to Master. (I don’t like the word “should!”)
1 – Reveling in your own preferences.
This is the key to the authenticity so many of us crave.
Learning to revel in your own preferences is about taking the time to notice your engagement and enjoyment, trying new activities and experiences, and honoring yourself enough to make time for them. (No matter how stupid they seem.)
We block our awareness of our own preferences when we look around to see if we’re “doin’ it right,” or when we get so lost in “duty” and “busyness” that we don’t mine our own deep delights. Reveling in our own preferences means that life is ever changing and that a new discovery awaits around every turn – and it also means that you might not choose things women are often “expected” to choose.
2 – Listening without judgment.
I’m convinced that all suffering comes from judgment. Not just self-judgment. But ALL judgment.
That being said, many people think that “listening” means “waiting their turn to talk.” Which means that much of our time is not spent actually listening. It is spent judging what’s being said.
Learning how to truly listen without judgment – whether to another person or to yourself – changes lives. It awakens the intuition. It heals and empowers the speaker. And it enriches the present moment. (And yes, that includes listening to someone who holds differing political beliefs!)
3 – Discerning “Nurture” from “Distract.”
Many of us lead exciting, challenging and sometimes stressful lives. We are often serving many people – including children, clients, parents, friends, and co-workers. Our self-care is of great importance if we are to be of true service in the world.
There’s a huge difference, however, between nurturing ourselves with what we truly want and need – and distracting ourselves in order to stuff the stress or fill the time. Learning that difference, and honoring our true needs (ie, getting a massage vs. eating a sleeve of Oreos in one sitting) is an awareness that will serve you for a lifetime.
4 – Letting go of the need to “fix.”
Most of us know that when we try to fix another person, we rob them of their own empowerment. (And often, our “fixes” are more for US than for them.) Allowing others to find their own wisdom, to make mistakes and to be exactly where they are on their path teaches us to accept the present moment as well as the mystery. It also teaches us that we are not the ultimate deciders of what is right and wrong!
5 – Becoming an Imperfectionist.
Having a purpose, taking action, trying new things – all of these contribute to our deep satisfaction and joy. When we expect ourselves to be perfect before trying new things, we cut off so many avenues to happiness.
So, becoming an imperfectionist is a requirement for a successful life. When you become an Imperfectionist, you finally recognize your ego voice exactly for what it is: Your own personal Success Prevention Expert.
6 – Getting Out of the Comfort Zone.
Our growth and success are often proportional to how many risks we’re willing to take and how often we’re willing to let ourselves be uncomfortable. We kid ourselves (and our souls) when we convince ourselves to play it safe.
Getting out of the comfort zone doesn’t always mean extreme sports or stepping onto a stage. Sometimes it can be as seemingly small as saying no – or trying a yoga class.
7 – Saying No with Clarity (and without Explaining).
Learning to say no is actually more about learning to say yes.
When we say no to something we don’t want to do, or be, or have – we are actually saying Yes to our deeper desires. Many women don’t believe they can have what they truly want, so they learn to settle, and their lives become filled with “maybe’s.”
Some of the biggest a-ha’s I see in my coaching practice come when women realize that saying no – with clarity and without explaining – is really about honoring other people as well as themselves.
8 – Allowing people to be disappointed in your choices.
And of course, when we say no, or when we follow our dreams or true callings – there will be people who are “disappointed” in our choices.
Life is not a campaign. We don’t have to get votes. (Thank God!) People can love us and still feel disappointed that we didn’t do it their way. Too many women go on campaign trails to get others to agree with them before they take proactive steps. This only serves to rob them of the creative energy they need in order to move forward in their choices.
Allowing people their disappointment sets us free.
9 – Re-Deciding
Half the fun of setting intentions or goals is seeing what comes up to be healed or released in the “becoming” that is required to meet that goal. (Okay, so “fun” might be stretching it a bit!)
In other words? In order to reach the goal or manifest the intention, we master the practice of Re-deciding.
Re-deciding means making the decision over and over again that you are creating the outcome you desire – even if you can’t see it in front of you right now. Many of us set the goal or intention – and then give up if it doesn’t manifest in a week or a month. Re-deciding means getting back in alignment with our goals as many times as it takes.