An Open Love Letter to Women who Serve

Recently, I led a class on Getting Right With Money and I am getting ready to run the second annual group program, The Business Yoginis Circle.  I am awe-struck by the gifts and talents of the women I am surrounded by.  I am also very clear that something is amiss with how women who serve value themselves and their work.  I write this letter in love and support so that you might see a different way forward for yourselves, your family and your business.

Yoga teachers, healers, creatives, and coaches, I bow to you.

You are a wide sweep of the population.  You are largely women, many of you are mothers.  ALL of you have felt called to do something great in this world.  To teach. To heal. To create.  To serve.

You are here to make the world a better place.

I love you for that.  I love you for that urge to lift others up through your own special mix of experience, talents, training, and longing.  I see you doing so much for others and I see you striving to serve more people, to create transformation in the present moment.

But I also hear your fear and your secret anxiety about the work you do in this world:

"Will I really be able to make a living doing this work that is so important to me?"

It comes in different varieties, "The economy is so bad, no one wants to pay for _____________."  "No one pays for coaching."  "Yoga teachers are expected to give their classes away."  "Art is under valued - no one cares about beauty enough to pay a good price for it."  "I am here to heal the world, therefore I can't expect people to pay..."  What is your version?

And for some of you, this isn't an issue.  You willingly give your time and it doesn't create secret resentment or fear or anxiety.  I applaud you and your clarity around what you need and what you don't need.

For most of you, though, you share your secret longing and fears in our conversations.

You long to be valued.  To have other people see your worth and willingly support your work through paying a reasonable price.  To make a decent living doing the work you are here to do in the world.  To have the world understand the value of your work and reward you accordingly. You know that when you do your best work, people are changed for the better.

This is not about 'them', yoginis, this is about YOU.

If you are not making a living doing what you love and you are blaming it on the market or others, you are going down the wrong path.  The value that you have cannot be defined by another.  The only person who can define your worth is you.  YOU.

You must stop apologizing.

For wanting to make a decent income.  For wanting to be able to support yourself and/or your family.  Think about the airplane instructions - put on your own air mask first.  You cannot truly serve others until you feel safe and taken care of and that, dear one, is your job.

Do you value yourself and your work? 

Do you know the benefit of what you bring to the world?  Do you own it, 100%?  I know you see people doing the work you are doing and succeeding.  Pay attention.  What are they doing that is different from you?  Likely, not much.  Except they understand that their worth is defined by THEM and them alone.

Notes on the market.

Let's get clear and put this to bed before we move on.  90% of the workforce is employed.  This work you do is about asking people to PRIORITIZE themselves.  That is all.  It is a great service to the people you serve to understand the value of what they will receive when they work with you.  It is your job to stand firm, in love, when people hem and haw about the price.  That is about how they value themselves, not how they value you.

And if you feel called to have a few spots that are pay what you can or free, great.  I do.  But I couldn't do it with a clean heart until I was very, very clear that it wasn't about feeling that I couldn't ask what I am absolutely worth.

Women who serve are traditionally undervalued and underpaid.

It is time to change that paradigm.  There are so many of you, of us, doing this very important work in the world: creating, healing, coaching, and teaching.  No one else is going to stand up and say, "Hey, I see you and your value and I want to pay you more because of the value you bring to this world."  That is YOUR job.  OUR job.

Everyone gets to be responsible for their own experience.

That includes you.  And your clients.  And your potential clients.  You don't have to take care of them.  The beautiful thing is, when you take care of yourself, you teach the people around you a very valuable lesson about prioritizing and taking care of themselves.

That is true service - to you and to others. 

Stand up, yogini.  Stand up on your own behalf.  It's time to shift the paradigm, to stop apologizing, to stop under valuing yourself.  Say YES to yourself and NO to the lies that you have been fed about what is "right" and "proper" and "spiritual" and "true".

Tell me, yoginis.  How does what you believe about your value drive your actions in your business?

Namasté to you, business yoginis!

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Posted on August 8, 2011 and filed under Money & Worth, Must-Read, On being a business yogini.