Doing Power Differently
A few years ago, we had some major remodeling done in our house. The job was done on time and on budget, which is apparently no small miracle, even pre-covid. One of things I loved most about the whole process was that the head contractor was a woman.
She communicated well; they showed up when they said they would; and I loved how her female boss energy led the projects, how she oversaw all of the individual components and how they each had to be sound enough to earn her final seal of approval.
However, after the work was complete and the dust had settled, I started noticing that some of the work was sloppy. Kitchen cabinets catawampus; toe kicks leaned against the cabinet baseboards instead of secured; hot & cold water knobs reversed; a wonky electrical outlet… that sort of thing.
I placed some calls and got the cabinets & toe kicks fixed, but I was told not to make a fuss about the other items. We should just be grateful that it got done on time and on budget; let it go.
It’s the same tired message I’ve gotten my whole life as a woman: don’t make a fuss; don’t be disagreeable; you’re making a big deal out of nothing; you should just be grateful.
So I did what I was told and let it go. And over the years, we had to call in more & more repairmen to have random things fixed: electrical wiring that was a legit fire hazard. Flooding and water damage under the sink due to improper installation.
None of these things, isolated by themselves, are truly big deals (#firstworldproblems). Life happens. But they add up over time, in stress, inconvenience, cost, and time.
I was asked repeatedly – from the various folks called in to fix these installation issues – “who did this?! Who did this job originally? This was not done correctly from the get go”.
The last time I was asked that, a few months ago, something in me shifted; and I wondered “Does the truth have to be nasty? Does it have to be a pissing contest? Our contractor needs to know that these things were done incorrectly, under the banner of her name, and communicating that doesn’t have to be ugly.”
I called her right then & there and, sure enough, she was immediately gracious, concerned, and responsive: “I’m so sorry to hear that. I absolutely want to know; thank you for telling me. How can I make this right?”
My answer was that I’d love for her to come over for coffee, and we could look at the items together. I made it clear that I didn’t want this to be a complaint. I respect her as a woman, both personally & professionally, and I know she would want to know about these ongoing issues. She agreed and came over for a walk through conversation a few weeks later.
What if we – men and women – choose to do things differently, on our own terms?
We made sure to hone in on what was installed incorrectly by her crew, versus normal wear & tear caused by our usage over time, and agreed upon which repairs she would cover, in order to do right by the job and her name. A few weeks later, she and her crew came over and fixed all of the items, quickly and smoothly. They were gracious and calm.
I tried my best to stay vulnerable, authentic, and kind – while still being honest – and to convey that this wasn’t a pissing contest or any type of ugly complaint. They met me in the same manner; and I made sure to thank her sincerely, several times, for being willing to handle this in a peaceful, constructive way of integrity.
I’m not sure if she feels as good about it after the fact as I do; but to me, this small experience felt like a monumental shift of flipping the script we’ve been handed. Of doing power differently.
Flipping The Script
This is what the upcoming Yoga and Myth series is all about: examining the programming and “software” that’s been installed into our systems by default, by our family of origin & our culture.
That we have to leave a nasty review online if we’re dissatisfied with a job. That we have to approach conflict or disagreements with our weapons out and teeth bared.
That it’s a dog-eat-dog world, in which competition and stepping on others to get to the top of the ladder is the only way to succeed. That happiness is measured in titles or possessions.
What if there are different ways of defining success, happiness, satisfaction, power? What if we – men and women – choose to do things differently, on our own terms?
What if we decide which software makes the rules and runs the show, both internally & externally?
If you’re curious (or maybe even hungry) for more, check out Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser. It’s one of two books we’ll be working with for Yoga & Myth, an 8 part series that uses the power of mythology, archetypes, and yoga to examine some of these unconscious ways of being in the world – and exploring if we want to try doing things differently.
I can’t change stop the war in Ukraine or on the global stage, as much as I wish I could. But I can try to walk my talk and practice peace… in my own heart, mind, and relationships. There’s both an incredible surrender of control – and an incredible claiming of the power I do have – in that acceptance.
It certainly felt good to put this into action with the contractor, and I hope doing power differently felt really good to her too. It’s the best we can do to try and change the world.
Leigh-Ann has been practicing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2005. She is attracted to fluid vinyasa styles, including moon salutations, and loves to geek out about yoga “off the mat” – such as how the philosophies behind the physical postures can enrich our journey, both for ourselves and for others. She is honored to co-teach the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program at Waynesville Yoga Center, and loves facilitating healing services to the community. A writer, dancer, massage therapist, creative marketing nerd, and proud Mom, she can be found travelling, enjoying the rhythm of the seasons, or soaking up the natural world when not working.