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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

4 Rules for Redefining Your Power Mid-Pandemic

“Personal delusions are just as dangerous as corporate delusions. They keep us bound in many ways: old ways of working and living as women of color. They make us feel invisible... We can decide to leave them behind and rewrite our own narratives, creating a room for ourselves to be in our full power.” — Deepa Purushothaman

Can you think of any “personal delusions” holding you back from your full power?

I can. Traveling makes me anxious. Not the flying part, but simply stowing my bag in the overhead compartment because I always have to stretch on my tiptoes to reach. The worst part? I blame myself: “You’re too short.” “You need to start lifting arm weights.” “You overpacked, AGAIN.”

But you know what?

Deepa Purushothaman feels the same way. You know what she discovered writing The First, the Few, the Only: How Women of Color Can Redefine Power in Corporate America?

Keep reading to find out…

It’s a (White) Man’s World

The reason Purushothaman and I — and many women — struggle with the stowage compartments on airplanes is that men designed them. Only about 3% of women played a part in planning them. And most men are 5’8”, 5’10”, and taller.

It’s the same reason you may be struggling in your corporate career as a woman of color.

“When workplaces aren't created for you, that sense of, ‘How am I gonna maneuver that? How am I gonna navigate that? What am I gonna do?’ starts early,” says Purushothaman.

The answer?

If you’re like Purushothaman and me, you tell yourself, “Just keep your head down, and work harder.” Because that’s what your parents told you. It’s not just us either. She interviewed 500 Black and Brown women. You know what they ALL said. They got the same advice. Many thought they needed to work two or four times harder.

The pandemic only made things worse…

Pandemic Burden on Black & Brown Women

Now, I know the pandemic was hard for EVERYONE. But out of the economic shutdowns, murder of George Floyd, and social unrest that followed emerged a new burden for Black and Brown women:

Checking the DEI-box for corporate America.

Pink-chair roles building cultural awareness within their organizations (WITHOUT pay), asserts Purushothaman. Second and forth shifts many women of color accept, telling themselves, “these tasks come with the job and are the price of admission.”

All of sudden, the world’s ready to acknowledge what Black and Brown women have had to deny: racism. And it’s asking them to solve it.

But working harder won’t solve it for us.

“Many of the women of color I meet are facing things like racism and discrimination and stereotypes — and working harder isn’t gonna erase those things,” explains Purushothaman.

Rewrite Your Story. Take Back Your Power

If our parents’ admonishments to “work harder” don’t serve us anymore, Purushothaman urges us to shed those messages and write new ones that support and advance our goals.

Start asking yourself, “Does this message or belief serve me?”

Give yourself the power to rewrite YOUR narrative. Use her 4 rules to help guide you:

Rule 1: Redefine Power

Aggressive. Dominating. Controlling. These are some words that often come to mind when we think about power, but that’s not what power has to mean to us anymore. It can be inclusive, expansive, and good for everyone.

Rule 2: Own Your Inner Power

The power inside of YOU is the most important power you have. Without it, you could feel powerless even when you have your seat at the table.

Rule 3: Create Space with Your Power

Power doesn’t have to move from the top down. You can use your power to create spaces where women of color can be in full voice and express themselves.

Rule 4: Foster Collective Power

It’s not just about getting your seat but also who you’re bringing with you — so foster power for your sisters too.

Don’t Carry the Burden Alone

If you’ve been feeling burned out from working harder, especially during the pandemic, you’re not alone.

Purushothaman was in the same place, and even spent months in bed from burnout. She says these times are even tougher emotionally for women of color because they are also dealing with the pain of not having to deny societal racism anymore. Many are going through the grieving process because of it.

I am here for you. Book your 1-1, so I can offer the support you need to heal and take back your power.

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