MAY 2010 Jerry Browning, MS, LPC
How wonderful it is living as a woman in our time. We
have choices as women today that our grandmothers
did not enjoy. We attain success that generations
before us could not imagine. More of us are
educated today, hold higher positions in
organizations, and we’re climbing higher in pay
equity - albeit males still earn an average of $.23
more of every dollar than we do. We can pay
spousal support, have children without being married
or even without a partner, and own our homes and
anything else we desire and can afford. The choices
are unlimited for us today.
However, some are saying that because women
have more choices and freedoms today, that we are
less happy. The ideas are that having to decide on
so many things is causing women extra stress and to
Actually, in September 2009, Marcus
Buckingham launched his book, Find Your Strongest
Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful
Women Do Differently. His announcement that
women have become less happy in the past forty
years has caused significant rebuttal. As Mr.
Buckingham points out that feminism not only could
be bad, he and others offer that maybe men are
doing better because of feminism than women.
I keep twitching about the fact that Buckingham is a
man writing as expert on this issue. While he’s an
excellent author in the realm of business, and I align
with his writing and utilize his material, I find this work
questionable. Is this information true? This data
could be as wrong as the misread data in the 1986
Newsweek that warned how an educated woman of
a certain age was more likely to be killed by a
terrorist than to get married. We still hear this.
Whether the data is accurate or not, I’ve had to take
some deep breaths when trying to digest these
points of view. I’ve found some comfort in Maureen
Dowd’s blogs on New York Times and also in Naomi
Wolf’s article, What Price Happiness in More
magazine, April 2010.
Then, I found something that
really helped me sort through some of this, and it’s
the work of another man, Jonah Lehrer. However,
he’s not writing as an expert on women at all. His
book, How We Decide, is actually more of what I’d
call a ‘guy’s read.’ The examples are of a football
game, a pilot’s experience, a poker hand, etc. It is so
interesting that I read it entirely on the airplane over
both legs of a round trip. He brilliantly brings insight
into how feelings are essential for good decision
making. He illustrates that even when a person tries
to be reasonable and restrained, emotional impulses
influence judgment. He says, “ …making good
decisions requires us to use both sides of the mind.”
I know that as women living in our time with
enormous opportunity, we also have an abundance
of natural ability for making good decisions, and for
making them easily. There are three prevailing
factors that help us to be what I call ‘Deciding
1. The first is our anatomy. Female physiology is
advantaged by having a larger corpus callosum, which
is the area that connects the left and right sides of our
brain resulting in our ability to use both sides of our
brain more optimally and faster than males. As Mr.
Lehrer teaches, we need to use both sides of the brain
to make good decisions. We are built for that.
2. The second factor is that while women can be
overwhelmed by choices today, we also quickly
develop strong skills in knowing what matters most to
us. As nurturers, we have innate clarity for our values
at work, home, and in our community. Values are an
important part of good decision making.
3. The third factor is that women quickly perceive
consequences and complex longer term implications
of decisions. Whether it is getting home and putting
dinner on the table in 20 minutes while guiding kids to
homework or creating a 5-year strategy for an entire
company, women can move from big picture to detail
There are many opportunities to help us improve our
decision making and increase happiness and
fulfillment. Today, professional coaching is widely
utilized for these matters. Additionally, Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator, DISC, and other assessments can
help us identify and understand our unique decisionmaking
styles and how to increase our ability. I
believe that today we are ‘Deciding Women’ making
full use of our choices and with great fulfillment.
What are you deciding today?
Jerry Browning is a professional coach and business consultant helping individuals and organizations increase success and fulfillment.
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