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The Vital spark

Often when I work with leaders, new and seasoned , we spend time examining how they have responded to situations at work or in their personal lives. Sometimes they feel they reacted in the moment and it didn't play well and other times they have tried to be conscious of all the variables and respond and still felt it didn't go that well. Of course sometimes they describe an interaction and outcome that was remarkable - creative and giving both parties an injection of energy , a feeling of flow.

Lisa Marciano has published a recent book called The Vital Spark Reclaim Your Outlaw Energies and Find Your Feminine Fire' . In it looking at women in particular , she suggests that as we tend to orient ourselves towards connection , and that many meaningful moments come from experiences relating to love, attachments, relationship and nurture, we have often experienced approval , safety and comfort from these behaviours/qualities. She argues however that personal fulfilment often requires us to be bold, assertive and fierce - and we need to integrate both ways of being to allow ourselves to live expansively'

I think we want to live expansively and need to lead in this way , we cannot be small but also we don't want to be monsters. In my work we often explore those qualities and behaviours we disapprove of in ourselves and other people, what are families , friends and schools disapproved of to reveal the edge of our field of awareness ( using the work of Millichamp) . I quote extensively below from Marciano's book's introduction as the qualities she describes are different from the usual list of leadership qualities or indeed relationship qualities and somewhat 'banished' .

'The eight qualities from which we may have alienated ourselves and now need to reclaim are:








and ruthlessness.

Shrewdness , disagreeableness and cunning allow us to care for and protect ourselves, respond to danger and find unbridled playfulness and humour. Desire and sexuality invigorate and are to do with our capacity for joy and creative exploration. They help us feel alive. Anger, authority and ruthlessness have to do with our ability to take a stand and assert ourselves. Used effectively they empower us. Together these outlaw energies help a woman to hew her own path and become the fullest version of herself possible.

While many women struggle to develop a conscious relationship with these qualities each of us will have our own unique experience with them. A woman may have no trouble at all accessing anger but she may have difficulty finding her genuine authority. Another woman might enjoy her sexuality with abandon but have trouble allowing herself to be disagreeable.

Developing any one of these qualities is likely to help access the others as well but we may all start in a different place and travel a different road to wholeness. These qualities can appear in various ways depending on our unique personalities and talents.

One woman may express the trickster through her sharp wit while another may excel at subtle political maneouvres that get the job done. One woman's desire may express itself in creative endeavour while another woman may feel compelled to pursue a profession or spiritual practice'

Marciano goes on to describe how her book is for ' any woman who finds it difficult to discern what she wants or to speak up for her needs. Its for women who feel cut off from their deep source, whose anger wells up deep inside, only to be strangled and silenced before it can be heard . It's for women who are too often tentative, apologetic or uncertain . If you compensate for self doubt with frantic doing. .............if you feel resentful or thin skinned ..... for any woman who spends too much time swimming in shame because she feels as though she is either too much or not enough. It's for the woman who doesnt feel she belongs anywhere - because she does not yet belong to herself. And its for the woman who has struggled to hear the inner voice that speaks with quiet insistence and lets her know what is deeply right for her.'

How often have I worked with clients trying to find the right balance between compassion and toughness, how difficult it is to find our own version of this with respect and decency but here is a kernal of good leadership. I used to find it difficult to be a little crafty, in pursuit of honesty I thought I had to tell all , all the time but it wasnt always helpful or effective.

'When our fierce side shows herself , wild assertive, expansive and true, we may demand she behave or try to domesticate her. The she flies away to some dark part of our souls, where she waits for us. We become convinced she is a demon who must be held at bay but that is only because we have refused to know her. Though she is a bit savage and uncivilised, she is also the very best of us, our brightest spark .She is waiting to return to us so we can access her wisdom, her fire, her life.'

This looks like an interesting book - lets see what the rest of it brings - I think the language she uses wakes me up to different and powerful energies present in each of us as we try to work together.

Source: Lisa Marchiano The Vital Spark -Reclaim Your Outlaw Energies and Find Your Feminine Fire 2024, Sounds True, Boulder, Colorado

Stacey Millichamp Transpersonal Dynamics`: The Relational Field, Depth Work and the Unconscious, 2018, Transpersonal Press

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