I spend most of the time with men, and that’s OK. I like them, I appreciate them and they respect and like me as well. I have nothing against women, on the contrary! But my job as executive coach and consultant is taking place in a men’s world. I was the only female managing partner in a consulting partnership of 8 partners and most executives are male.
So I had lots of opportunities to observe men while working, traveling, talking, collaborating and of course coaching and consulting them. I saw them suffering and succeeding, and I saw them interact with each other in a very genuine way, as they seem to forget after a while that a woman is around. This is when their masks drop and they start behaving as if they were among each others.
Spending a lot of time with men taught me some powerful behaviors..
- Not allowing self-doubt get in my way
It is not true that men don’t have self doubts or are constantly overestimating their own capabilites. This is what they might pretend to, but of course they know self doubt, like every one else does. The difference to women: they don’t let them get in their way! Men cultivate confidence in the presence of self-doubt. And this is how they apply for jobs which they might not be more qualified for then women, who instead cultivate the idea of “not being ready yet”. Men are ready whenever they choose to be so!
I was used to a lot of self doubt: Am I ready to coach executives? Am I to be a managing partner at 35? Am I ready to lead large projects? The guys around me were really helpful and told me their secret weapon: to consider oneself as “Being a master who learns” and not “Learning to become a master”.
2. Stop bashing myself
This is a huge thing for me. Over time I learned that men don’t tell themselves they are too fat, not pretty enough, not smart enough. They are aware of the fact that they are not the greatest, smartest and prettiest guys. They compare themselves with their peers, but they draw different conclusions than women. They accept the fact that they are average eg., and then move on. They are not constantly making themselves wrong for what they are not, but make the best out of what they have got.
It is very comforting to be with people with self-acceptance and I was encouraged to do the same, by learning from them how they treat themselves. There is not a lot to learn from woman in this regard, as they have refined the art of bullying themselves around.
3. Don’t judge people based on them being married, single or a parent
This is something I really, absolutely adore and love about men: they are just not interested in my marital or parental status. When we meet, as colleagues or clients, they are interested in what I studied, what I worked, what my vision might be, what I think, what I am interested in, and if I am useful for them. This is not true for woman: woman always always check immediately: is she married, does she have kids, and if they do have kids, you know it in less then a minute. They will let you know, that all you are and you achieved is merely due to the fact that you dont have children, and if I had children, my success would eventualy count.
4. I stopped looking for reassurance BEFORE I try something
If men want to do something, they do it. Be it a new sport or starting a company, doing a project or shooting a movie. They don’t run around and ask everyone, what they think, if they are good enough to do it, get everyones approval. They will “Just do it”, even if their wife is against it. If they fail, they will keep it low-key, but if they succeed, everyone will know for sure. Woman do the contrary and put themselves in a weak position: they want approval and if something does not work out, they think it is cool to tell everyone (being honest). In case of success they think it´s noble and feminine to not boast about it. I learned from men, not by copying them, but by developing my own way of talking about success in a powerful and inspiring way. Without feeling guilty. But proud!
5. I don’t complain anymore (most of the time)
Working men oftentimes give up seeing their friends, doing their sports and watching their sports. They sleep little and next day they are expected to perform, even if they young twins at home. They are tired all of the time and they feel responsible to support and pay for their family. They must not fail. I don’t say that woman are in a better position, but the key difference is: men hardly ever complain. They don’t hang around complaining about their wives, their kids, their bosses, their health-condition, their weight, their colleagues and their life as much as women do. They somehow deal with it. This is a huge role-model for me. And as I spend most time with men, I cultivated that habit of not complaining, as I had no one to complain to at hand. And you know what? Life started to feel better, lighter and while complaining provides short relief, one pays an enormous price.
These are just a few examples. Of course there can be a next blog on “5 things I don’t want to learn from men” or “10 behaviors, men should learn from women” and so on. But this time it was spot-on men.
Thank you guys, for teaching me those great things!
(Remark: Of course this is generalized, this is not the behaviour, all men and women show always!)