Betty-Ann's Both Sides Blog

Knowing is NOT Enough, We Must DO!

Entering a new year is typically a time when people consider what they would like to change about themselves and their lives but it is not enough just to know, they must take action. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do”. Therein lies the basis of the Gender Physics ’Know/Go’ Variable which holds the often conflicting desires of Feminine Energy people to let the world unfold as it will while those who prefer Masculine Energy want to learn to do by doing.

Think about two different journeys—one a slow meditative walk, the other a rigorous mountain climb. A meditative walk is taken at an easy pace. You might reflect while you’re walking, basking in the feel of the grass under your feet and the sun on your face. You can dream and just be—that is the beauty of the Feminine Energy. Meanwhile those with Masculine Energy are climbing the mountain: they have something to achieve and use their full concentration to get there.

You probably know people who fit both these descriptions in the way that they approach life. If you think more about it you’ll probably recognize that those who have a deep knowing, and not only don’t dismiss it, but use it as a guidepost in their decision-making are more successful. They focus on every crevice and cranny but they are following a path that will get them where they want to go. We live in a society that praises action and we are apt to dismiss that inner knowingness as ‘woo-woo’ but it is really the combination of the two that will guide us for a more successful 2019.

In my role as a senior VP, I mentored several emerging leaders. I remember once dropping by the office of a promising young woman who worked in IT to ask why she hadn’t applied for an opening that was being offered in my department. She told me that it was her dream to work in the head office, but she was unsure about her ability to assume the responsibilities that were needed in this new and unfamiliar position. Also, she knew that my department had a lot of interaction with the CEO, and she was afraid of being put under pressure and in the spotlight while she was learning on the job.

I explained to her that one of the benefits of being on the radar screen of senior management is that there is more chance for vertical promotions, and I reassured her that she was ready and more than capable. She needed to start experimenting with her career. Having a dream is great, but if you don’t have a method to achieve it, you’ll never make any progress. It was time for this young woman to shift from the Feminine Energy attribute of dreaming and start using her Masculine Energy to achieve. And while we were on the topic of dreaming, I suggested that she go home, sleep on it, and come back to see me the next day.

Sitting in my office the next morning, she solemnly said that she had decided not to apply. I raised my eyebrows since her answer didn’t ring true. She went on to tell me that she knew she would really like the position, but her head told her she was comfortable where she was. That’s when I told her that to achieve, she needed to take a risk. She needed to follow her heart and take action to fulfill her dream. I was reluctant to push too hard as the decision had to be hers, yet I hated to see her immobilized due to an overabundance of caution. It took a bit more convincing, but ultimately, she applied for the job, won it, and has never looked back. That was the first of many promotions, and it has been very gratifying to watch her career progress.

Dreaming and achieving used together successfully has provided the world with many important and beneficial discoveries. Canadian scientist Julia Levy had a dream to help her mother, who suffered from macular degeneration. She hated her mother’s discomfort and wanted to help rescue her from the debilitating disease. Using her skills and talents, she designed a light-activated drug that has since become a breakthrough treatment for more than two million people in more than eighty countries worldwide. In fact, her invention—photodynamic therapy—was the germination of a high-achieving biotechnology company called QLT Inc.

Like Julia Levy, countless inventors are motivated by their Feminine Energy to improve the lives of others. There are also those who, driven by their Masculine Energy, want to make their individual mark on things. Neither motivation is wrong, as both are simply starting points. An idea doesn’t come to fruition without confidence, and an invention that doesn’t consider the end user will never make it to market. We need the balance of both.

If you lead with Feminine Energy in the Know/Go Variable, you’ll be prone to perfectionism and damaging bouts of self-criticism if you make mistakes. For example: “One of the calculations was wrong in the spreadsheet; therefore, I am a bad person.” This faulty thinking can lead to paralysis and immobility. Experiment with taking action by starting with small, calculated risks. It’s better to try meditating for five minutes than to take five courses on meditation in an effort to do it perfectly.

If your Go-To Energy is Masculine in the Know/Go Variable, it is important for you to feel productive and you are apt to be all work and no play. Those with Feminine Energy create authentic, spontaneous experiences that may have no other purpose than simply pleasure. Experiment with being more emergent, flexible, and adaptable. Let go of your need to be doing something all the time. Take time for nonproductive things like paging through a coffee table book or calling someone just to say “Hi” when you think of them.

To move from the Feminine Energy safety of dreaming about our goals into the Masculine Energy action of achieving them, we need to balance our belief that we are where we are meant to be with a drive to enact immediate change. It may feel like a conflict but actually it is completely complimentary. I discuss all this and more in my recently released book Gender Physics, Unlock the Energy You Never Knew You Had to Get the Results You Want.