Business books often use the word success to mean making money or reaching a goal. Both meanings are decidedly masculine. Males of all ages admire contests of skill and strength in which everyone knows the score. Our society applauds the guy who puts the ball through the goal posts or achieves status in business.
Here is my quandary as a writer. How can I write about success as it applies to women, when the very word implies slamming headlong into obstacles and pushing through pain to reach goals that have no inherent value?
Do women have a different criterion for success? Is there another word we can use to express feminine values? Or would a female definition only drive a wedge between men and women?
"Pilot" is the male captain of a ship. "Pilotin" is a woman who performs the same job. She just doesn't get paid nearly as much. So I suppose that a double-language doesn't create the balance.
The dilemma increases when the topic is leadership. More than 90 percent of upper level managers are men. They often earn 10,20, even 100 times more than the women sitting across the table from them, despite the fact that women contribute just as much. Business is rife with stories of men who receive the accolades and collect the great fortunes, whether their companies make profits or lose vast sums of money.
Quick, name the top three female conductors of major orchestras.
Could you even think of one? Is it that women lack the gene for wielding the baton? Is our sensitivity to people less? Is music beyond our comprehension? I don't think so.
Please don't take my inquiry as criticism. Men have done a lot for us. I can't go along with feminist fighting tactics that push men deeper into their bunkers. War is a male domain, and as for me, I don't intend to fight for equal rights.
Instead I created success in my career on my own terms. I am a woman. I didn't take the college route, so I grew within a corporate system learning as much as I could always thinking about the business I wanted that would be better than this. Waking everyday to an alarm and pushing myself and others through a day of sales and goals, political infighting and working overtime to get ahead.
Now I am a free agent entrepreneur. That means I do what I enjoy with people who appreciate me. I get to honor my feminine rhythm. My body requires plenty of movement, so I change up my day and move in and out of situations. When I am hungry, I take breaks to replenish my body. My man is my mentor, but I am the only breadwinner in my family. I restrict my clientele to people who show loving-kindness for one another. All other options hurt my body, bring me tiredness and rob me of the aura of love that I so much enjoy. Making these choices I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman.
To be feminine, is to honor what works for me, to follow my desires and needs as a woman. Yes, I still have the end in mind, and my path includes all my life choices of good health, family, prosperity, community and contribution. I want to be whole and complete, a well-rounded person honoring myself in my path of success.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power," which took place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.