3 different pairs of jeans hanging up

A small phrase that makes my heart sink. “One size fits all”. I’ve not got the most unusual body shape, but I just know this gorgeous designer or off the peg item is not going to make me look or feel my best self.

The same thing applies to “one size fits all” expectations of women. From a young age, we’re influenced by the toys we’re given and the games we’re taught to play. Boys are meant to be full of rough and tumble, whilst girls are expected to be quiet and graceful. Boy Scouts were taught to survive in the wild and build leadership skills; whilst Brownie Guides baked cakes and sewed, in preparation for their homemaking years.

I definitely wasn’t a good girl. I was happier taking my doll next door to send her down the zip wire with the boys and Action Man next door. I went to ballet class and refused to wear the pink leotard and wrap cardigan (I was the girl in the blue set). It was hard not fitting in, but I couldn’t quite bend or twist myself into the expectation in front of me.

It seemed that these expectations from my family, my school and, later, my industries and society, were intended to put me on a path.

A path to happiness. A path to success. A path to acceptance and respect. A path to love.

Hmmmm. Ok. I got this. I need to make “one size fits all” fit me.

Only it didn’t. I got a good job. I dated good guys with prospects. I did good work. I lead my teams just like the books, experts and training said to.

I didn’t feel good. I strived for perfection and got rewarded for my hard work. I felt there must be other ways that would be as good or even better.

In my women’s leadership coaching, I introduce the idea of Archetypes. I believe they influence almost everything we do. They find their way into our goals and dreams, our values and beliefs, your motivation and your vitality.

The dictionary definitions of an archetype include:

    • a very typical example of a certain person or thing
    • a primitive mental image inherited from our earliest human ancestors and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious (Hello Jungian theory)
    • a reoccurring symbol or motif in literature, art of mythology.

Clear your mind and see what image pops up when I say…… Teacher. Witch. Engineer. Cleaner. Diva. Poet. Tomboy. Leader. We probably all hold a similar typical picture of a person in that role or position, build on our life experiences and the cultures or circumstances we had them in.

They all have positives and negatives. Some can assist us, whilst some hold us back.

And no two teachers, witches, engineers, etc can achieve “one size fits all” – rather I coach that we can grow our awareness of which archetypes we rely on, the impact they have and having conscious choice to step into an empowering, caring or clarity gaining archetype.

I mentioned four of them last week – Superwoman and her three friends, Bitch, Victim and Martyr. I’m sure their names bring up a curious mix of images, emotions and memories. Perhaps you recognise yourself in them? That’s ok, me too. I’ve been snappy for no reason, felt hopeless whilst staring at my four walls and tried to carry everything for everyone to make their lockdown easier. 

It’s ok, my cape is on, I can do it all and try to survive.

Often, we step into these four friends to get through tough times and well, none of them is great to hang out with for you or those around you – your partner, your family, your colleagues or your clients. They are exhausting, disempowering and isolating over time. They certainly don’t lead down any of the paths to happiness, success, acceptance or love.

I work with the One of many® Powertypes as archetypes that bring us new resources, emotions and leverage during good and bad times.

During the last 6 months, I’ve certainly lent into my Mother and Lover Powertypes to show radical care for myself both physically and mentally. I’ve needed Queen’s clarity and vision to know where to focus and who I needed as my advisors. Sorceress opened up new wisdom and connection for me as my Warrioress helped me get projects up and running despite remote working.

What I recognise in my clients, is that we each bring our own flavour or size you might say to the Powertypes. My Queen leads from within the ranks, whilst Kay leads from the front. My Mother has a huge capacity for acceptance and seeing great potential in others, whilst Anna’s Mother Powertype offers protection and safety for those at her hearth.

One size does not fit us all. The Powertypes give us language and resources to explore and channel our leadership in all aspects of our lives. You are tailored made to be beautifully unique as a woman and as a leader. That’s where joy lies.