The Bag Lady Syndrome is alive and well. In the latest Allianz Women, Money, and Power Study (2013), almost half the women polled are scared of becoming a bag lady –even those earning more than $200,000 per year. Why do so many bright, capable, and…yes…successful women continue to struggle with financial insecurity? Why do you?
The answer, I believe, has nothing to do with money…and everything to do with our fear of (or ambivalence about) power.
Phyllis Chesler wrote in her groundbreaking book, Women, Money, and Power: “Money is a power sacred to most men and foreign to most women.” These words written over 30 years ago, still hold true today.
The problem, as I see it, is this: We’ve never been taught the secret wisdom of creating wealth and exercising power, as women. Studies reveal that the sexes view money and power through very different lenses.
Generally speaking, a man’s self-esteem comes from his achievements; power itself is the ultimate goal. A woman derives self esteem from relationships; power is a means to an end.
So while men covet the cachet of the corner office, women crave the opportunity to help others, grow personally, and live authentically.
The word ‘power,’ which comes from the Latin word, potere (‘to be able’) means the “ability to act or produce an effect.” The definition applies to both genders.
But as it relates to women, I much prefer to define power using the words of psychologist Eric Fromm: “The main task in life is to give birth to our self to become what we actually are.”
When you view power from that perspective, you begin to understand our resistance more clearly. Essentially, our fear of power is our fear of becoming who we really are, doing what we were put here to do, in the biggest way possible.
This fear keeps us settling for less instead of asking for more, shrinking to fit rather than playing full out, clinging to safety to avoid taking the leap.
This is precisely the reason I developed my new body of work, Sacred Success®. Rather than pushing women to pursue power in traditional fashion, Sacred Success® seeks to redefine power from a feminine perspective.
I’ll be exploring this whole issue of women and power in future blogs. Meanwhile, I’d love your feedback: How would you redefine power? Or would you?