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7 Things You Should Know About The Woman Formerly Known as "You" After Transformation

transformation Jul 21, 2021

The List

  1. She won’t take a shit.
  2. She’ll have clear and firm boundaries.
  3. She’ll know what matters to her.
  4. Fear, regret, uncertainty, guilt, and sadness won’t define her days (and nights).
  5. She’ll be able to confidently speak her truth, whatever that might be.
  6. She’ll be creating the life she wants.
  7. She’ll motivate and inspire those around her.

The Proof

How can I so confidently state these things?  Easy.  I just described myself.  And I am not special, unique, or even remarkable.  I have just traveled the road before you, that’s all.

Further, it’s what I do - day in and day out.  It’s all I want to do, frankly.

By this, I mean it’s the work I do with women, whether it’s in groups or individually, whether it’s through speaking, writing, coaching or leading.

We could say that I was a ‘one-off’ (unique, that is) if I didn’t see the proof of the power of transformation day in and day out in these interactions. 

I am lucky enough to witness the magic that happens when a woman finally, not only gets it (and ‘gets’ herself), but also embraces it.

Honestly, nothing makes me happier - and when I look back over my life and career, the evidence is so clear - I have always chased that feeling, that addictive hit that happens when someone truly succeeds in ways that are the truest expressions of their authentic self.

What on god’s green earth does that mean?  Fair question.

Show Me the Money

So, some examples, yes? (and yes, I’m doing that ‘thing’ where the identities are obscured - hey! a girl’s gotta be ethical, too!).

Let’s take Woman A.

Having spent her life as an academic, she viewed herself as only moderately successful.  Many things in her personal life had made these years a true struggle - from language challenges to cultural expectations, to her own stories about what a mother, wife, daughter, and ‘career woman’ should be and do.

For her, despite her successes and accolades, her life only showed evidence of mediocrity. 

She didn’t see the resilience that she’d developed and shown through the various challenges (and some were quite substantial) of her life.  

She also believed - as many successful women do - that her actions/achievements should “speak for themselves”.  That, or others should recognize them and promote them for her.

And yes, that worked about as well as you might have imagined. 

She saw a small handful of colleagues becoming the equivalent of academic rockstars, and she couldn’t see what the difference between her work and theirs was, fundamentally.

Truth be told, it wasn’t the work that was the issue: it was her self-confidence and her ability to self-promote. 

She’s soooooo not alone on this one - it’s literally THE THING I work with women on every day.

She had some notion of who and what she wanted to be: however, she was afraid of taking the steps necessary to transform her current life into the life she imagined. 

It was too daunting, too embarrassing, and it triggered all of her self-doubts - for her, if she actually put herself out there, and nothing changed, what would that say about her?? 

Then she asked herself: what do I want my daughters to see?

She did the work; she took the steps; she uttered the words; she stayed true to herself (albeit with apprehension) while the giant wheels of her life began to turn. 

Everything changed when she changed: international awards, recognition, collaborations, citations, all the things she’d imagined began to manifest because she was undergoing a true transformation.

Why do I say “true transformation”? 

Simple: changing your behaviours on the outside does nothing for the person you truly are on the inside

Habits don’t become habits until they are internalized - that is, they become a part of who you are in a way that doesn’t cause you to question yourself - it simply is.  

Of course, that’s what she had going on BEFORE her transformation, too - she had habits of thought and belief (and therefore behaviour) that kept her from standing up and speaking out.  Habits work both ways.

Now Woman B.

Much younger than Woman A, Woman B was struggling to find a career path forwards that allowed her to be her true self. 

She knew what kind of work she was drawn to - and loved - but it didn’t seem to fit in a neat little labeled box. 

As a result, her attempts to find work that spoke to her soul weren’t bearing fruit.

She felt stuck, unappreciated, and - as time went on - more and more like a fraud.  If others didn’t see the potential in her, was there potential in her?  

Like many women, she equated being ‘chosen’ with being ‘good enough’ - and to be honest, it’s really hard to separate those two ideas.

She made many attempts at breaking out of the constraints that came to her by way of her family’s stories, her socioeconomic status, her U.S.-centric perspective. 

Over and over again she was passed by for opportunities, options, and outs.  

It wasn’t until she began drawing her ‘line in the sand’, where she clearly defined for herself what she valued, what she truly believed (as opposed to what she’d been told to believe), what she imagined her best life would look like that she began to be able to start the process of transformation - a path began to materialize. 

It was slow work, and - at times - it felt as if she were going backward.  She didn’t have a great deal of support, so the first thing she did that truly transformed her perspective was find people who believed in her and in possibility in general. 

From there, she slowly scaffolded the changes (and she’s still doing it), but her self-worth, her ‘way of being’ in the world, and the ways she’ll spend her time (and who she spends it with) took on the aspect of what she envisioned. 

Read that again - what she envisioned.  Her stories about what was, what could be, and her why got rewritten.

And finally (at least for today) Woman C

Anyone looking at her, talking to her, taking a measure of her life, would say she’d been a huge success - she rose to the rank of CEO, had a beautiful home, a good marriage, grown children who were kind and successful in their own ways. 

Soon she’ll be a grandmother.  It’s the perfect life.

She would lie awake at night asking herself “Is this it?”.

It made her sick with guilt: she knew she had everything that other people (women in particular) would kill for, and there she was, being ‘ungrateful’. 

She couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.  She went to her therapist: nothing came of it. 

She joined a bunch of women’s groups: they were enjoyable, but nothing changed. 

If anything, these activities made her even more aware of the dissonance between how she should feel, and how she actually did feel.

That was, of course, the key.

The ‘should’.  

At 62 years old, she was ready to change, but for “women like her”, ‘change’ meant retirement, golfing, volunteer work, playing bridge, playing with the grandchildren, enjoying the fruits of her labor, so to speak. 

While she recognized this as a ‘desirable’ next step, it wasn’t the step she desired.

In particular, she was starting to feel like she was suffocating - the expectations she long accepted as her own expectations were starting to unravel, revealing that she’d lived a “life of should”.  

She sensed - but wasn’t yet able to articulate - that this next transition was an opportunity for transformation, but only if she could break free of the ‘shoulds’. 

Otherwise, it would just be another of the various transitions she’d experienced in her life - successful, but ultimately shallow.  

Over time, she created a vision of what she wanted the next chapter of her life to be (something she’d never actually done before). 

She defined what her values were, what kind of value she wanted to give the world in this next phase, and how she planned to make this happen (knowing that shock and pushback were likely).

It wasn’t smooth sailing.  But she held the horizon in mind and kept going.

Now?  Now she runs a nonprofit that teaches women how to mentor other women, free from the ‘do as I do/did’ model she so frequently encountered. 

She speaks regularly, is working on a manuscript, and is avoiding playing bridge (though she has recently tried skydiving).  

Why Should You Care?

Good question.  Why should you care?  Well, IMO there are at least two reasons:

  1. anyone of these women could be someone in your life, a daughter/sister/mother/niece/friend/employee/neighbour/grandmother/boss who needs support, encouragement, guidance (only if she wants it), a safe space to learn to see, hear, articulate and pursue her dreams - and you could be the person she needs these things from (or she needs to know you’re ok with her doing this her way).
  2. she could be you.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but as far as I’m concerned, these two reasons are more than enough to take the idea of what transformation can offer women - and those that surround each woman.

Transformation is the active pursuit of possibility, the kind that leads to an alignment of ‘you’ - your who, what, when, where, why, and how, if you will.

Too frequently, people equate ‘transformation’ with a wholesale re-configurement of their lives.  It can be that.  

It can also be as subtle as a change in mindset that then transforms everything, from perspective to practice.

Transformation is also about living the best life you can, given everything that must be considered. 

It is a process, a mystery, an adventure, a trial-by-fire, and reckoning, and a test of patience and perseverance.  

So I say to you: when you read the list 

  1. I don’t take a shit,
  2. I have clear and firm boundaries,
  3. I know what matters to me,
  4. Fear, regret, uncertainty, guilt, and sadness don’t define my days (and nights),
  5. I confidently speak my truth, whatever that might be,
  6. I’m constantly creating the life I want, and
  7. I motivate and inspire those around me, 

what do you think?  

Is it you?  Could it be you?

Good question, right?

xo d

ps. check out to follow and/or like the stuff I’m talking about, plus take the opportunity (while you’re there!) to join The TEEHouse, a wee group I’m starting to build to support and connect women interested in the sort of stuff we ‘serve’ at TEEwithD.  Find me on LinkedIn at to see when and where I’m speaking next.  Check out weekly blogs/vlogs/podcasts, a fun quiz, reflection guide, and lots of sass on my Mother Ship:   See you there!  xoxo

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