Wise Women: On Power

04/05/2016 05:03 pm ET Updated Apr 05, 2017

With Women's History Month just behind us, the Wise Women series continues the conversation by addressing the topic of power.

For billions of women, the shadow of past centuries isn't history but current reality. Even in supposedly advanced regions, we haven't outrun that shadow. Traditional constructs of what power looks like and who should possess it still prevail.

Consequently, how women relate to power can be complicated in many spaces. Our households, communities and workplaces continue to shift as we navigate relatively new territory. We're in a period of disruption and the questions are many.

This month, Wise Women features three dynamic women. Each of them is an undeniable force profoundly affecting the lives of others. Who better to ask the question, "What does it mean to be a powerful woman?" Unsurprisingly, their responses vibrate off the page with their distinct energies. Read and be empowered.

What does it mean to be a powerful woman?

It means finding your voice.

We need more voices- we need every voice.

Voices that create systems, which offer solutions, that paint new visions, voices that expand conversations. We need voices of inclusion and wholeness. Voices that speak of healing and renewal. We need voices of rage and pain- raw and real. Voices that challenge. Voices that confront.

We need women to speak up. Speak strong. Speak truth.

Voices that speak to our collective struggle and our shared victory.

We need new voices.

Voices that we have never really listened to before. The voices that have been ignored and disdained because they were spoken in languages we did not fully understand or value. These are the voices that we have never really offered a stage or microphone in the past. These are the most powerful voices I know. When our combined voices celebrate all which forms us, names, nurtures and sustains us, and teaches us uplifting ways to understand and assert our selves in the world, we will fully stand in our power.

Our voice IS our power and silence is our enemy.

Undervaluing a woman's voice is really undervaluing her power.

Desiree Adaway
Leading difficult conversations on race, class + gender.
Building resilient organizations @ Adaway Group.
Writer. Speaker. Coach.
www.desireeadaway.com

To bring any creation from the realm of vision into concrete reality, you have to wield power effectively. Power is a quality of soul. It is already within you. You build your capacity to hold and express power by clearing those beliefs, stories, patterns and programming that keep you from using it skillfully to shape a life and business you truly love.

As women, we have a particularly ambivalent relationship with power. We long to make our own sovereign, creative choices. And, we carry in our cultural DNA horrific reminders of what happens to women who are powerful, sovereign and free.

Hiro Boga
Creator of Become Your Own Business Adviser
Mentor to visionary leaders who are shaping a world that works for everyone.
www.hiroboga.com

Years ago, I would've have answered, "A woman who is fierce, confident and sure of herself." I would have easily equated power with strength and the ability to stand up to anyone and anything. But what a difference a few years makes; what a difference a few knocks around life's university of blindsides, betrayals, illnesses and hard knocks can make. Some of life's experiences can catapult the entire way one views strength, power, and resilience.

Just a few days shy of my 42nd turn around the Sun, I see that my being truly powerful has directly correlated with my ability to be gentle; to be gentle with myself and to be gentle with others. That fierceness, I had that down pat! But gentleness is something I had to birth from deep within myself, past the hurts, past the what-ifs. And in doing so, I saw a power rise from within my being when I became kinder to myself.

When I softened, I opened to a Receptivity that is a quality of Femininity that defies words. I had to learn (or perhaps remember) that a flower cannot be forced to bloom. It just opens, fragrant, beautifying every room. It's not power in the way I'd limited it before. It is POWAH! The essence of my womanhood that is born of the Unknown....the part of me that always IS no matter what is going on in the world.

Melva Green, MD, MPH, MBA
Psychiatrist, intuitive healer, author
Expert on critically acclaimed A&E show, Hoarders
www.drmelvagreen.com

These eloquently stated responses show us the various hues. There are as many forms of power as there are women. What matters most is that we define and cultivate it for ourselves in a way that is congruent with the best of who we know ourselves to be.

What does power look like for you?