Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Jelaluddin Rumi, mystic Sufi poet, 13th century
Recently, I was invited to give a lecture in Rome for WIN (Women’s International Networking) at an international conference about women’s leadership. WIN’s founder Kristin Engvig and her team have developed an innovative and holistic approach to women’s leadership. About 700 women from all over world gathered here to get inspired and encouraged to restore the feminine balance in their companies and in their private lives.
So I got nervous… Although I have been giving this kind of lecture for years, it always feels like my maiden trip. This time, to make things worse, I got sick during the conference. All my old insecurities surfaced and I panicked “Who do I think I am, daughter of a suppressed Arab Muslim culture in North-Africa? What am I thinking, presuming to lecture hundreds of western women about emancipation and femininity? Am I really going to challenge these accomplished women to align their wombs with their brains? How can that make any sense to them?!”
I felt terrified, feverish and sick. I had been vomiting all night; I hardly slept and imagined all kinds of disaster scenarios. “If I do my usual stuff – Goddess Dance and CocoCabasa – nobody will take me seriously. If I try to make these women dance, shake, undulate and show them how to be playful and sensual with their bodies, they will laugh at me. I will look ridiculous. I’m about to ruin my professional reputation!” In short: I had to find another theme for my plenary. And I had to do it fast.
On the morning of my speech I woke up and did my prayers. I asked all my goddesses for guidance. I opened my Persian Quran, the ‘Methnawi‘ of Jelaluddin Rumi, one of the greatest mystics of Islam 13th century. The book fell open at these lines: “Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.” Ah, Rumi never fails me. Forget safety. That was my theme, and that’s what I transmit to women: to dare! To dare be feminine at work! To get out of your ‘masculine’ comfort zone! So practice what you preach, Kaouthar! And walk your talk…
As I went on stage, that afternoon, I was still feverish and shaking. In front of me I saw a mass of hundreds of women in the dark, and I was standing there alone in the spotlights. I don’t really remember what I did or what I said… I was in a kind of trance, floating, transported on the wings of the goddesses. I only remember the laughter, so much laughter; hundreds of women (and some men) laughing. And I remember the overwhelming sensation of bathing in the energy of 700 wild, sensual, playful wombs. It was powerful beyond measure, vibrant energy beyond words. Pure grace, pure magic.
For one second I thought: “Imagine these 700 wild wombs entering any institution, any organization; nothing would resist the change!”
My plenary was one of the highlights of the four-day conference. The nicest feedback came from a Canadian manager who had been delegated by her company to review the conference: “This was a great conference about feminine leadership, but I don’t know how to write in my rapport that the nicest discovery was my leadership from the vagina! My boss would think that I had gone nuts in Rome!”
So ladies (and gentlemen): destroy your reputation, be notorious…
PS. Don’t forget to leave your comments below! I’d love reading your opinion!