18 Months To Confirm I'm A Woman

The proof may be in the pudding... but sometimes it's also in the paperwork


Well, if we’re being honest, I may be overstating here. Not because the confirmation I received didn't actually take 18 months — it did. But the confirmation was about more than the mere fact of my being a woman.

The confirmation, as it turned out, was about my womanhood: what kind of woman, what kind of person, what kind of leader, I am in moments when the demands of the situation seem to defy logic and appear endless.

15 years ago I started a company. By myself. I have been running that company ever since.  I have not been alone, but to this day, I am the sole owner and the decision-maker.

So when my dear colleague Catherine* casually said to me, “You should apply for certification as a Woman Owned Business. You would be able to work with a number of organizations who don’t know about you yet,” I thought, Sounds simple enough. I am a woman and I own my business.

If only those facts were all that was needed.

Catherine had no idea of the work ahead. Neither did I.

The criteria listed for the application was straightforward enough:

  1. Own a majority stake in your business
  2. Be a woman
  3. Run your business: exercise the authority to operate the business and make decisions day-to-day
  4. Have a personal net worth not exceeding 3.5 million... a little personal, but

Great, I thought. This will be a very quick application and a no-brainer. I jumped in, only to find myself in a month-long process of gathering records and forms, getting statements and notarized signatures in every spare (and not-so-spare) moment. I spent more hours at the computer than I have dared to count. During that month, my team saw me work through a number of nights and weekends, and while they couldn’t compile most of the documentation required, my assistant helped where she could, mostly by running the reports requested in order to spare me the effort.

Once all the forms were completed and the documentation was uploaded, I again thought, Great. I gave them everything they asked for and some of the additional, optional documents, too. Surely, that must be all.

Not so fast.

While we waited for our application to be assigned to review, we lived in limbo (as did the patient notary) with our fingers crossed. We saw no activity and wondered if our application would be processed. Almost a year later, we started receiving urgent requests by reviewers for additional information.

What else could they possibly want to know? I had a harder time imagining this with each successive request. People asked me whether I was going to continue to respond to each one. After all, it was a great deal of effort and we had no way of knowing how this certification would impact us and our business. All we knew was that if we became certified, some of our clients might benefit in receiving government subsidies toward our services.

Many times over the months, I questioned and reflected on how much energy to channel toward an unknown outcome. My team and I wondered how many rounds of exchanges lay ahead. Yet through it all, we believed in our ability to qualify for the certification and in the possible benefit to our current and future clients. While the energy to apply for this certification was largely spent by me, my team was just as invested (as was the same notary public) as I was in the outcome.

What I also realized we were gaining was the opportunity to assess the energy the team is to spend on unknown outcomes. What is the right balance for us? How do we sustain our energy and determine when it is time to pull out of a project? How do we stay in sync with each other, show up fully and support each other, while accepting the outcome?

Being the one person responsible for moving the majority of the project forward, I was the one making the determination whether to proceed. The potential benefit to us and especially to our clients was, in my view, worth the effort.

So we proceeded. And my team supported — which for my assistant meant another batch of reports.

What did I do? I communicated openly with my team about what was happening and why this application was still important for us. They backed my decision to hang in there. And for me personally — I practiced the 5 Tenets that were taught to me years ago. I adapted them slightly for myself and have since shared them with thousands of people.

The 5 Tenets are:

  1. Show Up
  2. Pay Attention
  3. Tell the Truth
  4. Do Your Best
  5. Release Attachment to the Outcome

It’s been a long road. One I’ve shared with my team every step of the way. And because we’ve shared the road, they are now just as excited to celebrate the news as I am. Rejoicing is so much more gratifying when it is a shared experience.

I’m grateful to my family and team, who stood with me as I walked this long, winding, and surprisingly mysterious road. And I’m grateful to all the people who provided the proper documentation we needed.

I know now, even more than 18 months ago, that I am a woman with strong instincts, endurance for the road’s bumps, and a desire to invest in and include others. I am not easily daunted, but I am readily delighted.

Sometimes, regardless of how undeniable your pudding may be, a pile of paperwork is required to prove it. Today, Lifemoves Health, LLC is celebrating getting its “just desserts,” and I’m delighted to share this moment with you and the team and all the people whose help made it happen.


*Name changed to be on the safe side since I did not have time to request this helpful person’s permission to share her name before we published ;-)