Why burn-out hits women leaders twice as often

It was a beautiful Monday morning in Spring, I was in bed with the curtains closed. Staying in the darkness actually felt good, really good. Because it was exactly how I felt inside. I remember calling my boss that morning. I didn’t want to, however, I had no choice. On the Friday before I was still hoping that the weekend would give me enough energy to keep going for another week, but it didn’t. I told my boss literally: “I am throwing in the towel”. While saying this I was actually surprised. Apparently I was in a fight, but whom was I fighting?

I was mainly fighting myself. I had been exhausting myself and I didn’t know how to end this painful behavior. How to return to my energy, my radiance and connect to my inner wisdom. I only knew how to push on, how to hang in there, and how to not give up. I had learned how to keep on going, but I had never learned how to stop and return home, to myself.

This happened in Spring 2012. And as I found out, I wasn’t the only female leader that hit a wall. Until today I am meeting women who are fighting their way through, burning themselves down, struggling to find the right balance inside.

Staying on track – running on two legs 

Research shows that female managers experience burn-out twice(!) as often as their male colleagues, and typically ten years earlier – in their late thirties. (NEA 2015, CBS). The period in which talented leaders move into their first senior/ executive leadership roles and family life is peaking. Why does burn-out hits women leaders twice as often? Here are my thoughts.

From my experience many women leaders are running on one leg i.e. only using half of their powers: their masculine power. The use of feminine power is ignored or obstructed in the intricate design of our society, our organizations and leadership development programs. Using only one leg just isn’t enough – even with a lot of hard and dedicated work – to keep women on their designated leadership track. Women leaders and women with the desire to lead need to be taught how to use their natural, feminine power also so they can authentically develop themselves as leaders.

Investing in the feminine side of leadership

On top of that, Global Human Capital Trends 2016 by Deloitte state that of all respondents nearly 50% report little to no investments are being made in specifically developing women leaders. These findings correspond with my personal experiences. Since most our organizations pay little to no attention on how to retain and develop their talented women, it can feel very uncomfortable to raise awareness regarding women-specific leadership programs. Especially as a woman! And then we haven’t even spoken about the unease of talking about the feminine side of leadership. Yet, if we don’t, we’ll end up investing in business education and gaining (more) titles only. In the end, this is not what creates balance in your life. This is not what creates balance in you as a leader. A huge misunderstanding is that women believe they can only make a difference by what they do. The reality is – as a leader – you make a difference by who you are. People notice your leadership presence when they are interacting with you.

Woman-up as the answer

To excel in leadership positions and prosper as female leaders, women need to learn how to connect to their full powers. Don’t rely on the one-sided masculine power only. This will only tempt you to ‘man-up’, to join the rat race that eventually will drain all your life force. “Manning-up” is not the answer, “Woman-up” is. Develop your feminine power and learn to balance yourself. This will also bring back the balance in your life. As we grow our feminine side, we unconsciously give men space to do the same. And together we will bring back the balance in our organizations, our communities and in our society.

If you aspire to develop female leaders and want to see them grow, prosper and make the difference both they as your organization is longing for, than teach them – as a minimum – how they can lead from their full, natural (internal) force. As we need women leaders to stay on track in our society and in our organizations, we need to acknowledge the feminine side of their leadership.

That’s the reason I started The Women’s Leadership Program: because developing leadership in women truly works different than it does in men.

I would love to hear your stories and your thoughts! Hope you will share them with me!

Releasing the Brake

How do you make a difference when you feel something is holding you back and how do you stay true to yourself instead of fitting in?

These questions might be on top of your mind. Are you alone in this? The answer is no. Many other women leaders feel the same. Here’s part of my own leadership journey:

In 2006 I became corporate secretary to the Executive Board of a Dutch energy company. It was part of my management development process and I was trilled that I got this opportunity. It was the year in which “An Inconvenient Truth” was released, the documentary of Al Gore about climate change. And I was working for the executive board, people who had the power to make a positive impact. At first sight my experience in working directly with top executives was a disappointment. I expected to meet leaders who were driven by purpose, who wanted to make a difference in sustainable energy. Leaders who could balance steering for profit, people and planet.
I decided to share my findings and thoughts on leadership with one of my professors at Nyenrode University who teaches about purpose-driven leadership. The next day I unexpectedly received a phone call from my boss. It appeared that I had sent the email to my boss instead of the professor! What a mistake! What I could not have foreseen was that my boss actually was impressed with the email I wrote. He had forwarded my mail to one of the board members who invited me the same day for a meeting to share my thoughts on leadership. 

Ignoring my inner voice

The mistake I made changed the course of my career. But even more so, it helped me to realize how often I was actually holding myself back. How often did I nót voice my beliefs, my deepest truth? What I found out is how totally normal it was for me to ignore my inner voice in business. And whom did I deprive of my contribution by doing so? My fear of being different, of not belonging, kept me from opening-up, sharing and participating. And how many women voices are acting similarly under these circumstances? I mean the true, deeply authentic, inner voice that has the power to make a difference. That voice! I honestly believed at the time I was the only woman that did not voice what she deeply felt, but that appeared not to be the case at all!

Hitting the brake

Do you also feel the desire to make a difference as a woman leader? And are you satisfied with your contribution? Or do you, just like I do, often feel like you are fighting yourself? Do you know what this ‘fight’ is about? This is your deep longing to stay true to yourself; the need to stand up for what you believe in and to stick to your way of doing business. And this longing is suppressed by the idea that as a business woman, it’s better to adapt and try to fit in.

The moment in a meeting you feel different or you feel you don’t belong, that is an emergency signal for stepping into your leadership! This is where you release the brake! This is the moment where you can make a difference as a female leader.

The Women’s Leadership Program is for women who know they have so much more to bring into their leadership: the ability to make a difference with who they are. Feminine leadership and wisdom is about Presence. Presence to what you see, feel and notice, both inside yourself as in your environment. When you have completed the program you’ll have learned how to lead from this presence and make a difference with who you truly are. 

What you’ll learn:

•You’ll come to learn about the power of your feminine energy and how you can use this energy to accomplish more with greater ease, flow and better results. On this journey, you will be guided back to the essence of being a woman, so you can access the powers of your intuition, the wisdom of your heart and the passion of your body at any time.

•Understand where your radiance and your magnetism comes from and how to ‘turn your light on’.

•Develop your own Personal Leadership Vision and gain clarity on your leadership identity, purpose and goals. Read my blog on Why a Personal Leadership Vision is so powerful.

•You’ll learn to speak up for your ideas and your wisdom powerfully and authentically. Also in front of groups. Want to get inspired on how that could look like? Take a look at the speech of Sara Kuis, one of the first alumni of The Women’s Leadership Program. She gave this speech at Carla Clarissa’s Graduation Ceremony January 7th 2017.


Why a Personal Leadership Vision is so powerful

What I was most afraid of is that I would spoil my chances, that I would not succeed in grabbing the right opportunities that come along once in a lifetime. This fear was real to me.

I often was clueless, I didn’t know whom to trust, I couldn’t follow my natural intuition. In worst times I didn’t even know what my intuition was trying to tell me.

Still, I had my Personal Leadership Vision. I had a clear vision about my leadership role and my purpose, but also about me: being a woman, a mother, a partner and a friend.

Losing my Fear of the Unknown

It took me years to unlearn and unwind everything that kept me from living the life I longed for. And this also kept me from stepping into the leadership role I desired and wrote about in my personal leadership vision. But here’s the thing: although it took me years before I felt empowered enough to follow my heart and trust my intuition, I had something to cling on to along the way.

My Personal Leadership Vision works threefold:

• it is my light in the more darker periods of my life

• it serves as my beacon when I am wandering

• it helps me to see the chances and grab the opportunities that come along, the ones that I write about in my vision.

Your Inner Guide

What I’ve come to learn is that creating a Personal Leadership Vision is like awakening your inner guide.
She fuels your journey, empowers you to move towards your vision, even when you are unaware of your next step. You have awakened your inner guide and she won’t be put to sleep until she brought you to the place you long to be.

Are you ready for change?

Learn how to lead with greater ease, flow and better results

Leadership works from the inside. The essence of The Women’s Leadership Program is that you’ll learn to familiarise yourself with your inner world first. From a woman’s perspective.

What do I mean exactly?

• You will learn how the Mind, the Body and the Soul of a woman works;

• You will come to learn about the internal forces that drive you, as a woman;

• You will understand why you experience many more stimuli than male leaders, how repressing your feelings represses your radiance and how you can process your feelings so you can translate what they are trying to tell you;

• You will experience that your body holds one of the greatest sources of your radiance. Knowing yourself, owning your mind, body and soul is what gives you your natural leadership presence.
Then comes the time in which we are going to write our own Personal Leadership Visions. So we’ll have our own guide with us, at all times.

How my Personal Leadership Vision looks like

I wrote my first Leadership Vision in 2012 and in the last couple of years it has come to fruition step by step. Last month I felt it was time to make further refinements. And you my dear, you are the first I would like to share a part of my Personal Leadership Vision with:

I live my life from a calm mind, a turned on body and a full and warm heart. I love practicing what I ‘preach’ and turning these practices into rituals that fulfill me, leaving me calm, energized, healthy and radiant. Thanks to exercising in the outdoors and a healthy diet I have plenty of energy to enjoy all the beautiful things that life has to offer me. I am o.k. with making mistakes, with learning. When I fall I smile, dust myself of and continue on my path. That is how I keep on growing.

My purpose is that every woman business leader knows and feels that it is she that inspires change. That it is the feminine energy inside of her that has the power to elevate the people around her. I am a trusted guide for women leaders who unconsciously know this truth and are ready to embrace it. I create space for them to discover this power, to make it hers, a place also where she can enjoy the presence and inspiration of other business women leaders who are on the same journey. Space where they can reconnect, re-energize and feel reborn to continue with their purpose.

Opening Speech “Graduation Ceremony”

I have met a lot of women who are tired of having to “man-up”, but I have also met a lot of men who are just as tired. Together we are tired of being cut off from our emotional truth, of working for individualism instead of the collective, tired of standing for profit only – instead of humanity. Having to “man-up” makes both women and men feel as if they’re not whole. And when a woman has to deny being a woman, or just pretend it doesn’t matter, and repress her feminine values, this makes her feel unvalued and disconnected from the radiant woman she really is. 

That we are here today is a signal that the time that women thought they had to “man-up” will soon be a thing of the past. We are ready to “woman-up”, to stand for feminine values like collaboration, listening to your emotional truth, striving for equality and sustainability, trusting your intuition, and longing to create instead of produce. And by doing so, allowing men to stand up for it also. We hold the power to take the people, the communities, and the organizations around us higher.

Now, I am an optimist, but I am not trying to paint a rosier picture of the world than is currently accurate.

We all know the facts*:

That women still make 79 cents on the dollar that men make.

That out of 109 heads of state in the world, only 9 are women.

That only 9% of the top-grossing Hollywood movies were directed by women.

That 1 out of 3 women worldwide have been sexually, physically or emotionally abused.

These numbers are averages for all women – the statistics become much worse for women of color who are finding their way at the intersection of both sexism and racism in this culture.

*Source: Regena Thomashauer, The School of Womanly Arts, NYC

I see that we live in a patriarchy where the feminine is valued less than the masculine. And I see that women and girls, as the explicit carriers of the feminine, are being devalued and excluded from positions of power and decision-making.

I believe a lot needs to be done to change this. By governments, businesses, and NGOs. I am in favor of gender quotas, just so you know where I am coming from. But, in the midst of all this, there is one thing we as women leaders can do.

One thing… and that is to shine our light like never before! To turn on our radiance, our presence, and our voice. When women come together, feeling empowered and radiant, they can change the world.

I only have one mission with my company: for every woman leader to know, no better yet, feel, with every fiber of her body that it is she that inspires and ignites change.

The strength of a woman coming into her power, into her voice, into her femininity, and start doing what she has come here to do, transforming everyone around her. I am dedicated to reconnecting every woman that wants to connect to that presence. That natural, feminine, inspiring leadership presence. That is my longing. And I know my longing is shared by many women and men! That is why I created Carla Clarissa.

From my company I offer individual coaching, The Women’s Leadership Program and retreats. What I have done this last year is incorporate all the experiences I gained from 14 years of working as a business manager and a change leader into my offerings. I have also incorporated the teachings from the School of Womanly Arts, whose Mastery program I joined in NYC. I have studied ancient goddess religions in which the divine feminine was honored as the gift of life and incorporated the insights I gained in the program.

And of course I encountered both personally as well as professionally how difficult it is for us women to trust our intuition, to listen to our inner voice, and to follow our purpose. 

Because we have been cut off from it. I have been there. I have seen depression, burnout, and gone through a divorce. And I am grateful for these experiences. Because they helped me to become the woman standing here today, dedicated to using all of my life experiences to help women leaders soar.

And then… I invited 8 women to join The Women’s Leadership Program, one of the programs that I created. And they came, they worked their asses off and they… Well, they will tell you that themselves in just a few minutes.

I just want to tell you a bit more about the essence of The Women’s Leadership Program. Now, leadership works from the inside out. In my programme you will get to learn to lead your inner world first. From a woman’s perspective. What do I mean by this? I mean that you will learn to understand how the Mind, the Body and the Soul of a woman work. You will come to learn about the internal forces that drive you, as a woman, from the inside out. You will come to understand why you feel so much more than a man, how repressing your feelings represses your radiance and how you can process your feelings so you can hear what they are trying to tell you. You will come to understand that your body holds one of the greatest sources of your radiance. Knowing yourself, owning your mind, body and soul is what gives you your natural leadership presence. Then comes the time in which we are going to work on understanding your leadership purpose and having the courage to act on it.

So that you stand in your radiance, with conviction and courage as you raise your voice and stand as a decision maker for that which you came here for.  

Dear sisters, thank you for being here and thank you for everything you have taught me about feminine leadership!

How you use “Initiations” to rebirth yourself

A woman’s life is filled with Initiations; an experience that could have easily broken you, or at least stop you from living your life to your full potential. Experiences like losing your loved ones, struggling with children, sickness, depression, burn-out, getting divorced, being cheated on, abandoned, abused or having been manipulated and used.

Having lost your way, having lost your love, having lost yourself.   

These are the dark moments and phases in our lives. Not many of us have learned about the value these dark phases in our lives and what these deep, raw emotions hold for us. Initiations are meant to rebirth us. To rise from the deep and emerge as a new woman. They crack you open, as only a woman can. And from that raw opening, from that surrendering to the experience, from feeling the pain, the anger, the grief, the longing or the ecstasy, completely, you rise again.

Now, there are women who know how to turn the most darkest experiences in their lifetime into their greatest diamonds. 

And it’s exactly these initiations that have helped her to grow into an amazing, wise woman with a magnetic presence to die for! When you learn how to turn your own darkest experiences into your life’s initiations, you have learned to mine your own diamonds. You have learned how to rebirth yourself, how to transform yourself into the Woman you desire to be.

Into the Woman you were born to be. 

Here is my process of turning the darkest periods and darkest emotions into diamonds that make me shine even brighter as I did before.

  1. Feel. In order not to get stuck in my emotions (staying in anger, in grief or feeling frozen) I do something that feels counter-intuitive. I completely drown myself in that emotion. I turn on some heavy, tearful music (This Woman’s Work from Kate Bush has often done the trick for me) and there I go. Crawling, crying, pounding. I connect, through the music, through moving my body and releasing my breath, to what I really feel. This is connecting to your ‘dark side’, this is accepting your dark emotions, feeling them, allowing them to move your body. Say ‘yes’ to whatever you feel. Your feelings try to tell you something….
  2. Getting sensual. When I am done I get up and turn myself fully ‘on’. And when I say ‘turn on’ I mean turn on! This is the one, and only, way for a woman to connect to her deepest wisdom. The wisdom she holds in her body. To find the deeper meaning behind your Initiation you need to awaken the intelligence of your body. How does a woman turn herself on and awaken the intelligence of her body? Very simple, she turns on sensual, deeply feminine music and moves her hips. She moves her breasts. She moves her body with all of her passion. This is where the magic happens! This is where she starts to feel some diamonds rising.
  3. Grasp the diamond. Now that I am connected to the wisdom of my body I quickly write down what I feel right now and anything else that comes into my mind about what this Initiation was really about. Why have I been given this Initiation? The most difficult part is to remain turned on on while you write your revelations down or say them out loud. Just keep on moving those hips while writing or speaking.

And there I stand on my two feet, more empowered then ever.

Let your body speak through you. She holds so much wisdom for you! She holds so much love for you! Give her your trust and she will turn your darkest experiences into your greatest diamonds!

How to Lead the “Feminine Way”

Leading the feminine way means having the ability to lead from your natural feminine powers. The powers that have been gifted to you by our Goddess. Many women leaders are unaware of their feminine power, how to connect to it and how to lead from it. Women simply haven’t been taught how, neither in their leadership development programmes, nor in the broader societal culture in which we have grown up.

What does it mean to lead the feminine way?

It means that you turn ‘on’ every feminine fibre in your mind, body and soul. 

That is where you can access your natural feminine powers. A woman’s mind gives her the power to be decisive. A woman’s body gives her the power to feel and intuitively know; the power to bond and the power to create. And a woman’s soul gives her the power to live and lead for her purpose.

Though these are natural powers for a woman, she does need to have learned how to access and connect to these feminine powers. This requires practice, just like anything else in life that you want to master.

Why I started The Women’s Leadership Program is that it took me years to unlearn and unravel everything that kept me from living the life for which I was destined, that kept me from stepping into the leadership role that I was called to take on. Everything I have learned along the way, all the wisdom I have gained from wise women all over the world is poured into this programme.

Here I share with you my wisdom about how you can own your mind, own your body and own your purpose, and what you need to practise to do in order for you to access the powers your mind, body and soul hold for you.

Owning your Mind

A woman’s mind gives her the power to be Decisive. To set boundaries. To aim for a distant target and rise to a challenge. To determine her own goals and to be independent. We all know what happens when a woman sets her mind on something…

Can you even imagine what will happen when her mind is cleared from all the clutter and mind-bugs and connected to the wisdom of her body and the purpose of her soul?  

An important practices I teach in my programme to master the power of your mind is “Know yourself”. Becoming conscious of the forces that drive you from the inside out help you to master the power of your mind. In my leadership program I use the archetypes of “Goddesses in Everywoman” by Jungian analyst Jean S. Bolen to give women an understanding of the different forces that drive them. I find the archetypes of the goddesses so beautiful because they remind us of the goddess we are within. I believe there is a drop of the divine, of the Great Mother, in all of us. The goddesses together make up the complete spectrum of human characteristics. They are like the different facets of Woman. A woman cannot feel whole if she is restricted by family or society or if she restricts herself to only one or a few archetypes.

Owning your Body

We live through our bodies. Our soul and our mind are connected to our body. A woman’s body is magnificent, it is divine. It is the gateway through which life enters this world. A woman’s clitoris is by far the most sensitive part of the human body. 8000 nerve endings are concentrated on one little spot, making this part of the woman’s body twice as sensitive as that of a man. Can you imagine the power this concentrated spot can give you when it comes to sensing what really is going? Both inside of you as well as outside. Your body is the source of your intuition, of your higher wisdom. She leads you to your destiny, once you have healed the connection between you and your body. Once you have learned how to give her your trust.

A woman’s body gives her the power to create and intuitively know. One of the practices I teach is how a woman can move emotions through her body so she can learns from them. In other words, Emotional cleansing. Our body takes on twice as many emotions as men’s. In a world that is everything but kind to women, we need to shake that off. If you do not,  you are at considerable risk of shaking it off on your loved ones, because that’s where you feel safe enough to express what you feel. We first need to deal with our emotions ourselves so we find out what really needs to be expressed, and to whom. You can only trust your intuition when you are emotionally clean. When you feel poisoned and angry your body is filled with stress hormones that prevent you from really feeling your body, leaving you unsatisfied. You are not connected to your source of life.

One of the other practices is teaching women how to awaken their Sacred Sexuality. The truth is that without owning our bodies and finding pleasure in them, we are just not as inspiring, not so magnetic as we know we can be. We keep on feeling a bit girlish and compensate for this with our masculine energy. Now, don’t get me wrong. We need our masculinity in many ways! But it’s not the inspiring presence that I know you’re looking for. That presence comes from our deepest feminine source, our sacred sexuality. Reconnecting to the deepest feminine source. Woman experiences divinity through her body. When she’s reconnected to her body and her divinity she feels a natural impulse to self-love and to actively increasing the love she feels for herself.

And that is when her magnetic presence starts to rise, when she feels naturally confident to step up and lead her life from her purpose. 

Owning your Soul’s Purpose

It’s her body through which she connects with the divine feminine and through which a woman hears the call of her soul. Knowing your soul’s purpose requires you to understand how to connect to the divine/ sacred feminine. Finding your purpose gives you the authority from within to step up, be heard and lead. Being an authentic leader comes from doing what you’ve been called for to do.

Do you want to know the secret of women who have a Magnetic Presence? 

They have turned ‘on’ every feminine fibre in their mind, body and soul. They are a master at turning their light on. And so can you! When you own your mind, own your body and own your soul’s purpose, you’ve mastered living and leading “the feminine way”.

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