“Don’t run!” she called out to the little girl ahead of her. Now, that’s a great call if a child is near a road. It’s not a great call on a safe pedestrian-only path, ideal for running. What I’d love her to shout is, “Go girl! Run as fast as you can!” or how about, “Risk falling!”
It’s the lead up to the High Holy Days time of year. There are clouds early in the morning in Jerusalem’s skies. It’s time to think about repentance.
“Don’t run!” is a great way to hamper little girls the world over from running literally and metaphorically. When will she sweat from effort? When will she feel the self-generated wind on her little face? How will she embrace her discomfort zone?
Too often, the women I work with, whether aged 26 or 70, find it hard to ask for pay that reflects their skill and expertise. Or worse, they accept that that’s how it is. Motivated by this experience, I hosted a workshop at my home called “Women and Cold, Hard Cash.” For me, it was a stretch into my discomfort zone and I am glad I took the step.
As part of my preparation for the evening, I came across the expression “a scarcity mentality”. It means that no matter how much you have, you feel as if your back is against the wall and disaster is a knock at the door away. It’s an approach that assumes self-deprivation is the mother of all virtues. It’s an approach that assumes that there will be never be enough. It’s the approach I inherited.
The evening was great. We connected, we shared, we supported and we envisioned an alternative to where we are now. For me and for the women who came along, the money is never just about the money. It’s not even about the objective numbers on a page. It’s a symbol for all sorts of things.
The little girl on the pathway stopped running, just like good little girls do. Instead, she started walking really fast.
This Elul, let’s do repentance for our financial sins against ourselves. For when we have under-represented ourselves either willingly or under duress, under-valued our time, betrayed our professional value, robbed ourselves, deceived ourselves about our ability to earn, slandered our experience, scorned our successes, perverted our ambition, accused others of our own failure to ask for what we want, led others astray about our worth, and wickedly wasted opportunities to upsell, cross-sell, develop and renew our business.
And then let’s go one better. Dr. Yair Caspi teaches this story to illustrate gratitude: A man goes to therapy for two years to talk about his problems. After two years, what does he know a lot about? Yep, his problems. If you only look at scarcity, you don’t see what you have. Let’s embrace a little more abundance — in ourselves, in others and in the opportunities that we create.
True repentance is more than an invitation to regret our past. It’s an invitation to create a different future.
Come the New Year, let’s run with it.
Helen Gottstein is joining with Shira Gura at PICO on 21 September to offer Getting unSTUCK, Loud and Clear – a free event offering two training opportunities for women– one emotional and one practical to get you unstuck and ready to present yourself effectively and professionally. firstname.lastname@example.org