“50% of women business owners say the lack of a mentor holds them back.” That stat appeared in my LinkedIn feed. Ladies, does it irk you too?
For all of the conversations, conferences and bullhorn wielding Influencers, is this where we’re at? The approach to women’s empowerment is off. Way off.
Because if we were hitting the mark, that fifty-percent stat wouldn’t exist. Are there workplace issues to solve? Yes. A different subject. What I’m saying is this. Empowerment is supposed to put your success where it belongs, squarely in your hands.
When success is completely dependent upon a mentor or having perfect external conditions, it signals misalignment with the concept of empowerment. To succeed when things are perfect, is easy-peasy. “I’ll succeed, conditions be damned,” demonstrates power. Sure. Working with an experienced mentor has benefits. Yet thriving in spite of conditions means you’re in control, not the conditions. The difference is ever so subtle. And it’s important for this reason. Do you know one human who can control all conditions 24/7/365? Correctamundo. No one. Never.
Are you expected to know everything? No. You just have to know where to find it. Google, “How to find a mentor.” In 0.53 seconds up comes about 39,700,000 results. Problem solved. Accessing information, regardless of topic, has never been easier in human history. Finding answers, is empowerment masquerading as resourcefulness.
What I find troubling about that 50% statistic is the underlying energy. It implies victimhood which shifts the locus of accountability and power to the outside. “I can’t achieve X because of an external Y.” It’s like saying, the escalator is broken, you can’t move. It may be broken, but you can walk up or down the escalator stairs. Freedom of choice, is a core empowerment tenet. And when some of what Influencers with millions of followers preach doesn’t feel right to you, it isn’t. Intuition, thank you. Because of the trillions of thoughts to think, you choose.
Maybe the stat was designed to ignite conversation. Reason aside, I received a “warning” download when I read it then and now. So, I asked my sisterhood. Clients. Successful, brilliant women business owners. “What do you think about the lack of a mentor?”
Independently. Unanimously. Each one shook their head in disagreement to the statement, for these reasons.
An entrepreneur, woman or man believes, “Nothing or no one will stand between me and my success. Come hell or high water, I’ll figure this out. I’m talented. Smart. To every problem there’s a solution, I’ll find it.” My personal favorite? “Inspiration is for all. It doesn’t give a rip about what body parts you possess.”
That’s the empowerment mindset, at least for the business owner’s I work with. A savvy entrepreneur knows seeking guidance in specific situations is necessary. They also know, the basic premise of empowerment stems from within. It does not expect the world to change for you. It expects you to change, evolve and mature to move through the world with an empowered perspective. What I do? Cultivate life-affirming internal thoughts. Question erroneous beliefs. I’ll accept an idea only if it resonates my truth. Empowerment isn’t a group-think exercise. It’s a solitary journey. To recalibrate and recontextualize perspective to operate at a higher order is an internal process. Do that. The drama, propaganda and horse-dung vanish. You emerge intellectually and emotionally stronger, smarter and more powerful.
In the end, regardless of how much support or how wonderful the mentor, it’s on you. “Go to the dentist, have my tooth pulled for me,” isn’t an option. Ever. Doing certain things solo nets direct experience, a priceless business tool. If you’re serious about empowerment, consider a mindset specialist, who’ll explain everything you desire in the material world, starts with a mindset that aligns with the goal, first. It’s the internal cause to the external effect aka your reality. So, there you have my empowerment CliffsNotes. Although this isn’t about me. It’s about your autonomy. Self-reliance. Independence. Self-confidence. From there, mentor or not, you’re the boss, regardless of what the world and the people in it do. And from my perch, that’s personal empowerment.
Paula M. Parker (C) 2019 Originally published in