Hi. If we’ve not met before I’m Jodes, an assertiveness coach for women, co-founder of Ladies Life Lounge and our Resident Expert on the secret of ‘Pretty Assertive’. I help women to smash glass ceilings, grow their authority and credibility, speak up for themselves and get what they want in life and business.

I’ve coined a new phrase this year which I’m soon to launch as my new signature coaching programme but it’s caused me some bother and a bit of controversy. I understand why. And I think I’m kind of cool with that as it creates a sense of intrigue and engages people into the conversation which is what I want. That phrase is ‘Woman Up’.

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Most people assume this is a spin on the phrase ‘Man Up’ but let me be really clear, that’s not it. You see, that phrase and its connotations rile me. Whilst I’m in the business of helping women predominantly, that doesn’t mean I’m not pro men. I like men. A lot. The reason this riles me is because it has negatively impacted so many men. It’s had a detrimental effect on men’s mental health and no doubt contributed to the high suicide rates we see in our young men. I’m not about to replicate that same impact onto women.

So what does it mean to ‘Woman Up’?

It’s about women rising. It’s about continuing our quest for equality and addressing the gender pay gap. Yes, we’ve come a long way and there’s still a lot to do. I’m a firm believer in ‘actions speak louder than words’ and so for me, this is about switching gear on how we create change and accelerate it at the same time. I’m all for marches, demonstrations, protests, petitions, speaking on TV, radio shows and podcasts. But it’s not enough. Culture only shifts when individual people make a conscious decision to do something different and influence those around them to do the same. It’s time for all of us to act. To take accountability for ourselves and create the lives we want to live. I love a quote by the fantastic Simon Sinek – “Don’t complain. Contribute”. So, Woman Up is about us stepping into our own space, owning our lives, being a master of our own destiny, reconnecting with our true identity, having a voice, knowing what we want and then going out there and getting it.

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Why is it important we do this?

Great question. And one I’ve given a lot of thought to. Apart from the points I mention above about equality and actions speaking louder than words, there are two big reasons.

1.     It’s important we take accountability and stop simply blaming men, that’s how we end up getting labelled as ‘nags’. I say this because of an experience I had in my previous marriage. I worked a full-time senior leadership job which was hard going. My husband had a part time job and loved a pint more than he loved me. I was unhappy in our relationship but we had two young daughters aged 3 and 1. I have a strong vivid image of him coming home half cut one evening and I was giving him ear ache about the situation. He sat on the sofa, with one daughter either side of him and said to them both “Just look at your miserable, moody mother”. It broke my heart. I blamed him for the way things were. On reflection, it was up to me to carve out the life I wanted and take accountability sooner. I did eventually and I left the marriage.

2.     We owe it to our daughters. Linked to the point above, as a mother to now 3 daughters it’s super important to me to be a great role model to them and to clear the path for them to be able to live their life as strong, independent women who can take equality for granted.

So, my point here is this. For a significant number of women (not all, but many, me included), there’s a lot we could do to get out of our own way. There are some different mindsets that would help us to create the space to live the happy, fulfilling and successful life we all deserve and, the shift in action we would take as a result would make such a big difference to those women who may not be in the fortunate position that we are too – for example, those in domestic violence situations. Those mindsets are:

·      Presence – Being more present is about connection, an energy, being in the moment and noticing without being noticeable. Sounds bizarre I know! It’s more than just paying attention and not being on your phone. People with presence have gravitas, influence, command an audience, turn heads when they walk into a room. We need more women like that who can drive change. Who demonstrate the authority and credibility to compel others to follow.

·      Accountability – a word I’ve used many times already in this piece. In a world full of blame, excuses and sticking our heads in the sand there’s never been a more desperate time for high accountability. True accountability is more than just calling people out if they’ve not done something or kept a promise. It’s an attitude. Unaccountable people live life in victim mode – ‘things happen to them’. They are the mood hoovers and Debbie Downers of life. They have no influence and people avoid them. Sometimes they have a really valid point, but nobody will listen because they’re perceived as negative. Accountable people on the other hand are the folk who make shit happen – ‘things happen because of them’. They’re the people who acknowledge the reality of the situation, they take ownership for it and themselves, they find solutions and most importantly, they execute. They take purposeful action and get the job done.

·      Courage – as an assertiveness coach I spend most of my time coaching passive women. Assertiveness has just two ingredients – consideration and courage. These women have bucket loads of consideration but lack the courage to state their own wants and needs. Instead they become doormats and people pleasers. Being brave and courageous is about firstly knowing what you want (a stumbling block for many) and then believing you have the right to ask for it and deserve to get it. The women that do attempt it often overplay it, because they only have a male as a role model upon which to base the behaviour on, which translates into the alpha female bitch from hell as she tips the balance to aggressiveness. We all know one. Most despise her. And that’s sad because she stuck her head above the parapet, she went for it, she was brave, she committed to her dreams and aspirations and now she’s likely feeling quite isolated and lonely. A small minority have mastered the balance and got it nailed and when you meet her, you know about it. She inspires you from the moment she walks into the room. And no, she’s not necessarily dressed in a power suit with stilettos and bright red lipstick! Let’s bust that myth right away!

So, my mission is to help more women get out of their own way by developing these three mindsets. Once we’ve nailed that, I work with them on the skills and behaviours to help them be successful in their own way, whether that be smashing the glass ceiling, getting a seat at the board table, breaking through the boys club mentality, getting a promotion, quitting the 9-5 and becoming an entrepreneur, having a happy relationship with their partner, being a guilt free mum, ditching toxic friendships or even having a wonderful relationship with their mother in law – can you imagine! All of this is achieved through my coaching programme, Woman Up.

If you’d like to know more about my programme starting in the autumn, drop me a DM.