A recent article from the Washington Post brought back memories, and made me realize why I love painting. Not all the memories were good; the article cited research that found humor is appreciated in male leaders, but is often held against female leaders.
Since I enjoy dry, witty humor (ok, which is sometimes sarcastic) the article reminded me of challenges I had encountered in leadership roles. My male peers could literally lie, scream, or insult colleagues, and be viewed as strong. However, when I held people to their commitments – quietly, firmly, maybe with sarcastic humor – I was “too tough.”
Luckily it wasn’t often an issue. Self-confident, honest people had no problem at all, and were actually happy with my straight talk. The situation was different with people who wanted to squirm out of something. This was true across sectors, as a corporate exec, adjunct professor and nonprofit board chair. Insisting someone honor their commitments somehow became my problem as a woman (i.e., bitch) rather than theirs as a person who failed to deliver. Needless to say, I don’t miss that.
Now I’m lucky to be at a point in life where if someone doesn’t do what they say they will, I don’t have to work with them again – “no more jerks!” Instead, I can spend time painting, creating beauty and sharing it with those who appreciate it. If something strikes me as funny, like this carnival scene did, nobody can penalize me for it. In fact, this painting, Pick Up Window, made someone laugh – and the couple purchased it on the spot.