NN
Nicole Negron
4 months ago

Leverage Your Female Brain: Secrets of Success

#empowerment
success
Women have had to adjust to the patriarchy’s definition of success, and (like with most things) we’ve done it well. So well, that any alternative to hyper-productivity, competitiveness, and linear thinking seems so far fetched that it gives most women I work with anxiety at the mere thought of operating in any other way. We’ve internalized that if we’re not pushing on a...
Women have had to adjust to the patriarchy’s definition of success, and (like with most things) we’ve done it well. So well, that any alternative to hyper-productivity, competitiveness, and linear thinking seems so far fetched that it gives most women I work with anxiety at the mere thought of operating in any other way. We’ve internalized that if we’re not pushing on all levels, what is our worth?

Historically, we have lacked the resources and necessary representation to inform and guide us into what feminine success looks like. Now we have a ton of data that shows us that we can be more productive if we simply learn to lean into our own femininity when we approach our work and relationships. 

Most women experience a 28-to-32-day cycle, and in that cycle, there are four distinct phases. In these phases, the brain has specific neurochemical patterns. These patterns correspond to different energy levels and can be leveraged to bring more success to our work and personal life. 
 
Weeks 1-2:  Strategic and High-Energy
The first two weeks of your cycle is the menstruation and follicular phase. During this phase, estrogen levels rise, highlighting the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Your prefrontal cortex is responsible for:
  • Cognition
  • Planning for the future
  • Making major decisions
  • Better impulse control
 
Estrogen and testosterone combined sharpen your concentration and amplify your confidence. Testosterone heightens your ability to take risks. During these two weeks, you want to focus on planning for your month ahead, finishing projects in advance, planning strategic talks with your manager and team, working collaboratively on projects and holding brainstorming sessions. You’ll have the energy to do it all during this two-week span. This is the time of the month where you want to go go go!

Week 3: Highly Verbal and Analytical
Week three is the ovulation phase. During this time, estrogen levels continue to rise in left-hemisphere of the brain (verbal fluency/analytical brain) and a decline in right-hemisphere activity (visual-spatial ability/creative brain).
 
During this week focus on more analytical and problem-solving activities. Do things like planning for an interview or reviewing resumes. Since your verbal fluency will be high, this is the time to do all your networking or execute a pitch idea.

Week 4: Rest and Self-Care
Week four is the luteal phase (aka PMS week). During this time, you will notice your energy turning inward. Progesteron takes center stage, decreasing your estrogen and testosterone. If you’ve ever noticed high energy in one week and lower energy in the next, it’s absolutely normal. In addition, many women begin to feel moody, irritable and can’t sleep (this is common, but not normal).

This is where that patriarchal messaging starts to tap into our psyche and cause us to push past our means. Many of us judge ourselves harshly during the PMS week for not producing, executing and overachieving, and then we label ourselves unproductive.

During this period, you want to spend a lot less time socializing, and instead take more time to rest. This is where self-care is paramount. For work projects, focus on more detailed data-driven work, run reports, reflect on how the month went. Inward projects that involve minimal extroverted energy should be your priority during this week. This will set you up for success when it’s time to begin the follicular phase.

Track your cycle, harness your strengths

Your cycle is a guide to help you plan, create and execute. Now that you have a brief glimpse into the four phases of your cycle, you can begin to plan your productivity and rest (this is necessary) in advance. If you aren’t already doing so, you should begin by actually tracking your cycle. Take a look at your month ahead and plan to execute your projects accordingly.

It’s an exciting time to be a woman! Take a bold step and break the conditioning of patriarchy! And because we can all use a little guidance sometimes, visit my site and schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more.


EP
Erin Papworth
about 1 year ago

For Love of Women

#feminism
#women
#africa
#empowerment
#sisterhood
#femininespirit
In the U.S., the concept of “grit” is often touted as an important part of success. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, where I lived for 13 years, the ability to show resilience and tenacity in the face of hardship is not conceptual, or optional. I started to truly understand the commonality and strength of humanity, and the insane strength of women in particular, because I was...
In the U.S., the concept of “grit” is often touted as an important part of success. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, where I lived for 13 years, the ability to show resilience and tenacity in the face of hardship is not conceptual, or optional. I started to truly understand the commonality and strength of humanity, and the insane strength of women in particular, because I was afforded the opportunity to travel the world and end up where I did. 

It is hard to find the right words to explain the experiences I’ve had or the people I’ve met; the phenomenal women I’ve had the honor to know --who have been born into a shared time but a place that is a world apart from everything I thought I knew.

Universally, when it comes to women -- you may not understand them, but you know them. You know them in your hearts because somewhere inside, you are them. 

You have the same characteristics they exhibit. You are determined, get angry, worry about the future and your children. You crave community and seek agency. Your life has demanded you exhibit an array of traits --academic excellence, endless self-reflection, emotional analysis and the ability to negotiate your intimate relationships.  

You may not be tasked with protecting your children from war or finding any way possible to feed your family because of food scarcity, but others are, and you would rise to the occasion if you had to, just like them. 

When I reflect on a story that describes my experiences, the first that comes to mind is about a childbirth I assisted one dark night in a remote region in the northwest corner of Central African Republic. I had no business being in the room as I was the logistician and responsible for supplies and staff for Doctors Without Borders (MSF in French), not healthcare delivery.  But there were only three members of MSF based in that village, and the two male African nurses needed extra hands. It’s surreal to look back on now, ten years later, and after my own childbirth experience in a pristine western hospital equipped with oxygen and epidurals.

But there is a purity in that night; a woman giving birth under the cloak of darkness. No drugs, no electricity, two headlamps, a kerosene lamp and forceps ushering in a beautiful new human life. The nurses made sure she and her baby survived, while I stood by her head, a lost, useless wreck, holding her hand and blotting her forehead, wondering if I should be doing more. 

She came to us because she had been displaced from her village due to the rebel activity in the region. I didn’t know where the father was or if he was still alive. I vaguely remember her mother or an auntie accompanying her. I didn’t know how she had come to that tiny town surrounded by Chadian troops to the west and French legionnaires to the south. I couldn’t understand her language. I couldn’t help physically, aside from moving the light in whatever way the nurses directed and handing them equipment.  I didn’t know how to get the baby out safely or make sure she didn’t bleed out. 

All I really could do was hold space for her in that instinctive way a woman does for another, willing the Feminine spirit in her to assist her body to do what it was designed to do. She barely cried out, she suffered and groaned in composed, resilient dignity. She gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl.

I learned the next day she named her Erin, after the foreign woman who stood by her as she brought her daughter into the world. I saw her one more time after that and then she and the baby were gone.  

I don’t know why I tell that story now, if only to relive it for myself. Perspective and time make stories more profound and help you find new truths in the cobwebbed recesses of your mind. And it reminds me -- when my life seems complicated, when I am mentally stressed or when I am in pain --  that I am never really alone. 



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