Nurturing Women's Greatness For the Greatest Good

Architects of Change

Jane Wurwand, Mentor, Step Up Women’s Network

By Jane Wurwand

Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great. Bach mentored Mozart. Obi-wan Kenobi mentored Luke Skywalker. But this is just the mentoring we know about, because it’s been done by men.

The fact is that women everywhere thrive by mentoring each other and through creating webs of interdependency. This has been the case for centuries, simply because women have generally been marginalized and denied access to power in its conventional forms, which have long been male-dominated. Historically, women have helped each other to succeed because we had to. In doing so, we have learned to share power, collaborate and apply intuition to the business process, concepts which most men are still trying to master.

For the past five years or so, I have participated in the mentoring process through Step Up Women’s Network (SUWN), and although I am identified as the mentor, I can honestly tell you that I have learned much from my mentees.

One of the most transcendent truths is that no one accomplishes anything in a vacuum. While we all have to find our center of gravity and stoke the fire in our own bellies, compartmentalization always diminishes our potential. There’s more to gain today in looking beyond the usual. And we have no choice, since the “usual” is no more.

This is relevant to all business people as the old paradigms fall apart. A generation ago, and even a decade ago, many aspects of business operated in a crisply defined way. Now, the marble pillars of convention are wobbling and everyone needs to reconsider how they do business. The keys to success now may lie where we least expect them.

For instance, that nicely brushed young person with the Ivy League pedigree may not be where the magic is in terms of reinventing the future of your business. My work with SUWN has proven this time and again. Consider that in Los Angeles, 1 in 3 high school students drop out. Countless more will never set foot on a college campus. That would seem to be a hopelessly daunting fact, until you consider one thing: Students who are mentored through SUWN experience more than a 95% success rate in completing high school and entering a 4-year college program. This suggests that we all need to shed any preconceptions we may still harbor regarding the future of the world, since it will look nothing like the past.

The message applies to organizations as well as to us women through the concept of “embedded generosity.” Our world really begins to expand when we stop hoarding all the cookies. This, too, relates to the idea of allowing barriers to dissolve. By integrating concern for the well-being and welfare of others into our plans for our own gain, we are expanded, not diminished. Intuition tells us this, although hardball-playing, Gordon Gecko-style capitalism tells us just the opposite. Who do you believe? I guess my view, to paraphrase Gordon, is that lunch is not for wimps, especially if you share it.

Jane Wurwand is the Founder and Owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute.

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  • Unfortunately, not all women understand the importance of helping other women. Even though the field of nursing now includes both men and women, it is long overdue to eliminate the ideology that “nurses eat their young” from the culture of nursing and adopt behavior archetype that empowers and respects nurses for their essential contribution to the health care system. In a recent article in the NY Times, Theresa Brown, RN referring the expression, nurses eat their young,” says this is “standard lore among nurses, and it means bullying, harassment, whatever you want to call it. It’s that harsh, sometimes abusive treatment of new nurses that is entrenched on some hospital floors and schools of nursing. It’s the dirty little secret of nursing, and it needs to be publicly acknowledged, and just as publicly discussed, because it’s keeping us down.” Mentorship, not hazing-type behaviors, is crucial in providing the support required in training nursing students and in facilitating the transition of nursing staff from novice to expert nurses.
    Our country is experiencing a critical shortage of registered nurses; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics; the projected job growth of registered nurses will create the need for 587,000 new nursing positions through 2016. The turnover rate for clinically practicing nurses is more than 30% and nearly 66% for new graduate registered nurses, according to Kathleen Bartholomew in her book (Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other, HCPro, 2006). Bartholomew thoroughly examines theories about cause and presents strategies for eliminating and preventing this kind of hostile interaction that exists in some hospitals and in nursing schools.
    It is essential to promote the growth of supportive, team-like environments and eliminate the antagonistic interpersonal interactions. In the big picture, hostile work environments impact the delivery of patient care; when nurses unleash their frustration upon each other, patients are the ones who pay, and sometimes with their lives.
    Please post your comments in the Architects of Change section of the Community Forum under “Bullying and Cruel Acts in Nursing Education Produce Fear, Shame, and Undermines the Training of Future Nurses. Thank you.

    Posted by Lisa Karlan, 30 March 2010.

  • One person can make a difference, even if it's in ONE other person's life. If we have a good mother, like I did, I believe she becomes our first mentor - that noble, brave woman whom we live with daily - yet admire from afar. I have learned from many wonderful women-most were not CEO's or world leaders but rather they were my aunts, grandmothers, and friends who taught me lessons of what "greatness" really looks and feels like. As mom to three incredible little girls I feel great responsibility in providing them with an example of what nurturing, love, leadership, strength and benevolence look like. Mentors are all around us-we simply need to ask them the questions they long to share the life-changing answers to.

    Posted by Kimberley, 15 March 2010.

  • Hi I truly believe that women have so much to offer both girls and boys I'm a Girl Scout Troop leader this position is both fustrating and very rewarding. I learn so much from the girls it brings me much joy and to see my daughters face light up to be apart of such a wonderful organization. Mentoring is understated children and parents need another perspective on many different issues that arise with our children and it use to be said it takes a whole village to raise a child whatever happen to this and the logic behind it what this means. That's how I was raised it didn't hurt me in anyway only made me a better person.

    Posted by Sharronhotsauce , 15 March 2010.

  • This Intntl Women's Day, I'm stuck inside with a respiratory virus... but this gave me plenty of time to check out the SUWN and to sponsor a woman survivor of war through Women for Women International. New slogan for women... mentoring means joining hands globally and locally!

    Posted by baycyd, 8 March 2010.