I think many of us have been thinking about success all wrong.
And I think it’s time for a major shift.
Earlier this year, I finally read The DaVinci Code. For those of you who haven’t read it, it’s basically a murder-mystery centered around the idea that The Feminine has been systematically removed from Christianity. Religious implications aside, that book got me thinking a lot about the need for balance in the world and the idea of The Feminine being an important counterbalance to The Masculine.
Several weeks after finishing the book, I was sitting at a stoplight when an idea hit me:
Maybe there is a Feminine model for work and success that we’ve been ignoring.
I wondered if some people struggle to be happy and successful simply because we’re operating under a paradigm that doesn’t fit.
In my head, I imagined a triangle and a circle. (I’m a visual thinker.)
The triangle represents the current model of success most of us are familiar with: we climb up to succeed by reaching a top that is smaller than the bottom; progression is linear and competition is necessary.
The circle represents something more… feminine: a model based on cooperation and collaboration rather than competition. Success is measured not by height, but by what’s created, connected, and encircled.
When was it decided that a linear progression towards an ever shrinking top was the one and only way to move through life?
When did we all decide the only thing to do was try to fit round pegs into triangular holes – even if it meant whittling away at the most beautiful parts of ourselves?
In the past year or so I’ve stumbled upon the power of the circle in many different ways. I’ve walked labyrinths as a meditative experience. I’ve coached clients on the circular nature of learning life lessons.
Last month when I was listening to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto speak about plans for moving forward, he said we needed to move from a top-down model – he made the shape of a triangle with his hands – to a collaborative one. He mimed the shape of a circle.
To me, a circle represents the power of creation. The sun. A pregnant belly. There’s something primal and completely familiar in the circle.
This is, I think, the future for many of us.
Circles. Creation. Collaboration.
A completely new paradigm by which to measure ourselves and our lives.
In this paradigm there is no ceiling to break or ladder to climb.
In this paradigm we cultivate relationships and curate experiences. We make things and share them.
In this paradigm there is still success. There is reward and stability, but it comes from the circulation of resources – the continuous flow of energy – and not from the clamoring to catch what has trickled down from an upper level.
I’m still figuring out exactly what this all means – how it looks in day-to-day life.
So far it means I am avoiding comparisons and stair-step thinking. I’m putting more energy into creating than measuring any sort of climb. I’m making connection and collaboration a necessary part of my work schedule.
But it is a little scary.
I am so used to the linear way. It might not be what fits me best, but it’s what is most familiar. I know how to hold those measuring sticks and use those formulas for planning.
But I just can’t shake this idea that the world needs balance.
I think we need more circles; we need more of The Feminine.
What do you think??