Mind Power –Tap into the new sisterhood
The relationship you have with your friends means the world to you. Here’s how to harness it so you can all reach greater heights.
For many decades, popular culture has made us believe women are out to tear each other apart; that women networks are flooded with competitiveness and are governed by what has been termed the ‘pull her down syndrome’, making it impossible for us to create strong sisterhoods. Today, this script is fast flipping, with more and more women building powerful unions designed to assist and uplift each other on both personal and business journeys. The likes of Beyoncé Knowles and Serena Williams, as well as Mzansi’s very own Basetsane Kumalo and Carol Bouwer’s femships continue to remind us that girls do indeed run the world. Friends and co-founders of experiential marketing agency Cheri Yase Kasi, Tumi Mohube and Sunshine Shibambo, attribute the growing female friendship circles to the realisation of the importance of women supporting each other in order to succeed. “We realised there’s no better and more powerful validation than one that comes from your ‘sisters’. Because they, like us, understand the struggles, challenges, sacrifices and belittlement women have gone through and continue to struggle with daily, just to be heard and seen. We understand unless we form these sisterhood networks, we’ll never succeed,” explains the creative duo. According to psychologist and interactional theorist, Audrey Katsidzira, women today are exposed to different cultures. This has led them to realise the many shared struggles they have with other women – hence the growing desire to unify. “Today’s female associations are powerful, women not only learn about each other but
experience each other’s journeys, which increases empathy among them. Unity has become imperative and a force to be reckoned with because, despite differences in circumstances, women still face similar difficulties.”
Life coach Nomase Sonqishe explains that sisterhood is not a new phenomenon. Women have always generally been collaborative in nature and most grew up experiencing the power of the female collective, regardless of where they are from. “Growing up in black communities, whether rural or urban, the power of the female association was always evident. From the unorganised women collectives, who came together to assist in their communities when there was a wedding or funeral, to the organised stokvel associations whose main purpose was to build women financially – sisterhood was always there.” Sonqishe believes today’s modern women who are professional go-getters continue to possess this sisterhood power, coming together in a different context to collaborate and share the load in their journey towards success.
BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION
Common interest and needs are what Sonqishe says should form the basis of such networks, as well as a sense of inspiration that will assist in the progression of your personal journey. “When people have the same life or professional objectives and goals, their relationships become stronger.” Katsidzira agrees, stating that mutuality is a key foundation of successful and meaningful sisterhoods. She adds, sisters should always demonstrate the ability to tolerate their differences. “It’s important for sisters to allow each other the opportunity to be themselves and understand that they may not be able to approve all the decisions made by their friends. This is an area where a lot of us women struggle, as we often want our friends to be exactly like us.” The psychologist further explains that, even though having common interests is part of forming solid friendships, it’s important to understand we’re not the same, and that’s okay.
Tumi and Sunshine, who are affectionately known as the ‘Cheris’ in the creative industry, explain that love, trust, honesty and constant support is what keep their sisterhood flame burning. “The transition from being friends to sisters and then business partners had its own challenges and truly tested our friendship. But, because the foundation of our sisterhood has always been strong it made it easier for us to trust each other with our dreams – knowing that we will continue partnering together and supporting each other.”
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BOND
Katsidzira believes behaviour is neither right nor wrong, but rather effective or ineffective. “I encourage the practice of non-judgement and genuineness as a basis for intimate female friendships.” She shares fundamental guidelines that will assist in building and solidifying such bonds:
1. Be yourself. Despite the discomfort, attract those people who are drawn to the qualities you possess. Let honesty and integrity govern your union.
2. Be willing to live without other people’s approval. Many find this to be really hard because as women we are relational beings who thrive on acceptance. However, you cannot present a fake version of yourself to the world. It’s draining.
3. Embrace the difference each sister brings because a different approach is not inferior, it’s just different. Have empathy for other women and practice compassion.
4. Develop trust. Choose people whose energy you connect with to support and demonstrate that they can depend on you. Sonqishe says that for such relationships to be successful, women need to shift their mind-set on global and cultural beliefs of what women can and cannot do and achieve. “This will assist in understanding and defining the roles we need to play in each other’s lives, allowing us to fully utilise the power we have as a collective in order to succeed.” It’s important for women to start creating meaningful conversations through our female networks. “These sisterhoods should give us inspiration on how to get to the next level of our lives. It’s equally vital for us to track our progress as friends against our purpose and life objectives.”
Tumi and Sunshine attribute their femship to constant communication and loyalty.“It’s about harnessing and appreciating each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well as understanding how we both add value. When the one is weak or feels overwhelmed, the other needs to become the support structure. We never compete but compliment, because when one sister wins and succeeds we grow stronger.” Essentially, Katsidzira concludes, friendships offer a safe base for women to develop freely. “Being able to support one another means women aren’t afraid to see other women succeed, and this encourages us to celebrate all that we are.”