Debunking the Superwoman Myth – Lessons from Jacinda Ardern

Last week the world was taken aback when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation. The leader who had made history on so many fronts including being the world’s youngest female head of government and the second elected world leader to give birth in office. She also has the distinction of being the first world leader to bring her baby to the United Nations General Assembly meeting, doing so when her daughter was just a few months old.

In explaining the reason for her departure from New Zealand’s highest office, PM Ardern asserted that the job had taken a lot out of her and she simply did not have enough left in her tank to continue. [For more information on PM Ardern, CLICK HERE.]

Superwoman – the Real Story

Do you know the actual story of Superwoman? I researched it while designing a professional development programme specifically for high performing women who had become stuck after initial high-velocity advancement in their careers. I was quite taken aback to learn that Superwoman chose to give up her super powers and revert to being a mortal. Even more fascinating was the reason she made that choice. To find out the answer to that question, watch the video below.

PM Ardern followed Superwoman’s lead when she decided to tender her resignation. Her decision evidenced courage and confidence and a clear sense of her values – i.e., what was most important to her. It meant being true to herself rather than conforming to society’s expectations of her.

Let’s be clear, what PM Ardern did wasn’t easy. One of the primary reasons why it is so difficult for women to make decisions and take action to do what’s best for us – as opposed to what everyone else expects – is the existence of what is known as the Superwoman Schema.

Superwoman Schema

The harsh reality is that trying to live up to the Superwoman myth is taking a toll on the physical and mental health of women in general and African American women in particular. That finding led to the creation of the Superwoman Schema. Please click on the video below to learn more about this phenomenon.

Self-awareness = Beginning of Wisdom

PM Ardern was sufficiently self-aware to be able to recognize that the job was taking an unsustainable toll on her. According to Aristotle, self-awareness is the beginning of wisdom. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Self-awareness must be accompanied by self-regulation. It was that ability to self-regulate that allowed her to decide to step away from the role thereby safeguarding her personal health and wellbeing and the interests of her family.

I salute this amazing leader for her emotional intelligence, emotional agility and courage to choose herself and her family rather than buying into the Superwoman Myth.

What about you? Are you wearing yourself out trying to be a superhero? How’s that working out for you?🤔

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