Perhaps the greatest paradox of all is that women give birth to all men (and all humans) and, after being held inside our wombs for nine months, birthed, breastfed, and often raised primarily by women, some men turn around and oppress women, especially in certain parts of the world.
This is one of the biggest disconnections of our time that needs a massive transformational shift. Women in America only got the right to vote in 1920, and in most of the world women are considered inferior to men. Ninety five percent of C.E.O.s of for-profit organizations are men. There has never been a female American president. And yet all men come from women!
And now, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress, “42% of mothers were the sole or primary family bread-winner last year. An additional 22% were co-bread-winners.” So 64 percent of women now are either primary or co-breadwinners, on top of giving birth to all men, and we’re still living in a patriarchal society?
I too have experienced the good, the awesome, and the ugly while launching and growing my companies, pushing the boundaries of female leadership and what’s acceptable in society. I’ve created innovations in the categories of periods, pee, and poop, and talking about these things has made many people very uncomfortable. I’ve had to overcome societal stigmas, cultural taboos, grossedout male investors, and the double standards of female leadership. My goal is to share all the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I have also faced major patriarchal pushback and experienced firsthand attempts to keep a female leader “in check” and not “too disruptive” or “too strong.” I had a choice to either quiet myself and shrink to what’s acceptable to society or continue to push boundaries and speak up productively—and I chose the latter, because it’s all part of the challenge of being a Disrupt-Her. I deeply believe that everything happens for us, not to us, and if we can take all parts of our journey—the good and the bad—with the same hunger for knowledge and willingness to dissect what worked and what didn’t, then all of it will be a blessing in the end.
A Disrupt-Her questions everything in her own life, in culture, and in society to ensure that she is maximizing her life experiences before it’s all over like a flash in the pan.
A Disrupt-Her understands that there are only about 21,000 days to live from the point when we graduate college (usually at around 22 years old) to the point when we die (around the average age of 80), and she deeply gets that time is the most nonrenewable resource we have. Thus, she is laser focused on creating the most value for herself, her community, and the world while she is here for said short amount of time. Like Thoreau, she wants to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.”
So with our mortality in mind (or as I like to call it, “the holy shitness of being alive”), a Disrupt-Her is unafraid to charge forward and try new things, even if the terrain ahead is rocky and uncertain. She is bold and proud to be fully embodied as herself, flaws and all; she speaks up and shares her thoughts, even if society might be trying to squelch her “new kind of thinking.” A Disrupt-Her doesn’t have “fail” or “failure” in her vocabulary; she sees every experience only as an opportunity to learn and grow—and she prides herself on making any attempt at all in her passionate pursuits. A Disrupt-Her knows that “Hate-Hers” exist who want to take her down but also that “Love-Hers” exist who want to champion her in her pursuits. A Disrupt-Her also knows that Hate-Hers are only Hate-Hers when they’re hurt themselves, so she’s learned not to take it too personally. A Disrupt-Her who has children believes that being a mother should be on her résumé (rather than being seen as a detriment at the office), knowing that she can take care of another life selflessly, around the clock, even if she’s sick or exhausted; can multitask; and is very efficient with her time.
Only when we question, challenge, and then disrupt all aspects of our lives can we live a more excited, impassioned, lit-up existence filled with adventure, love, friendship, and fulfilling work that creates a positive ripple effect for generations to come.
Excerpted and reprinted with permission from Disrupt-Her by Miki Agrawal. It can be found online at hayhouse.com and amazon.com.
Miki Agrawal is also the author of the popular book Do Cool Sh*t (foreword by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com), an identical twin and Irish triplet, the daughter of a Japanese mom and an Indian dad, originally French-Canadian, a Wall Street dropout, a former professional soccer player, a Cornell graduate, and a proud new mama. mikiagrawal.com.