Biohacking productivity: Why the feminine cycle is a leadership superpower
We live in a world built by and for men. From the way our systems are built to the measurements of the cabinets in our kitchens, almost everything is built to meet men’s standards, needs, and ways of operating. This is specifically true to the workplace, where hustling and being dominant is the quickest way to climb the corporate ladder. Men will tend to work in a linear way, sometimes powering through a task in a straight line.
Women, on the other hand, are designed to work in cycles. They can intuitively work in the continuous movement of contraction and expansion, which means they can more easily embrace the impermanence of things, accounting for the different phases and timings they and their projects inherently take.
The nature of cycles
We naturally find cycles and rhythmic patterns in all aspects of our lives and nature’s rhythm: the ocean’s tides, our sleep, the seasons, the lunar cycles, day and night. Cycles are what renew the Earth, ecosystems, and all living beings.
When you get in sync with the different cycles of life, you sync into something bigger than yourself. You begin to regulate, organize, and regenerate your own personal nature and biorhythm.
It is much easier when we go with the natural flow of our bodies rather than against it. There is a sense of ease, allowance, and trust in what is.
One of my clients, Rafaela Gontijo, CEO of NUU Alimentos and mother of twins, shares her experience: “It took me a while to realize that my mood swings and productivity were related to my menstrual cycle and more to the lunar cycle. After immersing myself in this ancestral knowledge, I connected with my feminine side and my cyclical nature. On the full moon or fertile period, I hold meetings to present my product and hold collaborative meetings. During the menstrual period or on the new moon, it is a moment that I reserve to reflect on my routine and the directions of the company. I align myself with my purpose and detach from what no longer makes sense.”
For another client, Monica Costa, Founder of Granna Pretta, “After understanding and connecting with my menstrual cycle in a positive way, I started to connect my projects with these productive processes. The results are that I am more assertive to start a new project and I have a much better relationship with myself and my body. Now I accept the moments when I feel that I must withdraw and recover, to be with myself, to then start a new cycle.”
Biohacking productivity: Understanding your cycle
Throughout the month, women experience four phases in our cycle. When we understand these phases and the physical, psychological, and emotional changes we experience in each of them, it can be life-changing.
Dynamic Phase (Pre-ovulation): This is when your physical and mental abilities are at their best. It’s a good time for mental focus, concentration, learning, researching, structural thinking, independence, and physical stamina. It’s also the optimal time to set clear goals, get organized, and gain clarity on how you will reach your goals.
Expressive Phase (Ovulation): This phase is generally marked by the disposition to be extroverted and relational, but with less physical energy than in the Dynamic phase. This is the time for networking, teamwork, pitching your ideas, and giving or getting feedback. You should also use this time to fuel your emotional tank so that when the low times come you can draw from the goodness you feel in this phase.
Creative Phase (Pre-menstruation): During this phase, our energy is flowing inwardly and we experience a lot of active desire and drive to do things moved by our emotions. This is the optimal phase for creativity, inspiration, problem-solving, and assertiveness. You can allow your mind to wander and bring you the insights you are looking for. Indulge your senses through dance, music, and daydreaming. Avoid discussing any kind of relationship – you will be very critical of yourself and others.
Reflective Phase (Menstruation): This phase is marked by low energy, both physically and mentally. It’s a great time to rest and be introspective in order to restore and renew for the month to come. Intuition is high and so is spiritual connection, so this is the perfect time to assess what worked in the past month and what didn’t.
As Miranda Gray, author of the book The Optimized Woman, writes, “the menstrual cycle is a huge unrealized personal and work asset.” When women sync their professional life to their phases, they are not only able to maximize their productivity, but also their creativity.
Decoding the dos and don’ts for each phase can help women sync into their superpowers at the right time. When observed closely, each phase holds core abilities for good leadership: setting goals, planning actionable steps towards it, taking action, building relationships to help achieve the goal, being creative to solve problems, creating a clear vision, reviewing progress.
How companies are shifting paradigms around menstrual cycles
The wisdom of the feminine cycle gives not only women but also men the chance to shift the paradigms from which they have been operating. It is an invitation to align with the dynamic cycles of the Earth and tap into the powers of both expansion (growth) and contraction (going within).
Individuals, as well as companies, are coming to the realization that this wisdom is needed if we want to effectively improve women’s productivity, happiness, and overall health. A great example is Nike’s (Cycle)Sync workout collection on the Nike Training Club App which includes workouts, nutrition advice, and expert tips adapted to the different phases of the menstrual cycle. Also in 2020, another company called Zomato, a global food-delivery company based in India, launched a paid period leave policy for employees. The groundbreaking policy allows up to 10 days of period leave per year and also applies to transgender employees.
As Rafaela puts it, “making menstruation part of the agenda of executives and entrepreneurs is a way to break one of the several taboos that are a part of our relationship with work.”
If we are to take better care of the Earth as leaders, we need to understand how to take better care of ourselves, and this starts in our nature. Let us reframe the derogatory relationship we have with women’s cycles and embrace them as our true superpower.
(Re)connect with your nature and leadership superpowers in THRIVE: Lead With the World in Mind.
Practice self-compassion, build resilience, and set boundaries: What advice do you have for women in 2021?