Abby Wambach’s new book, Wolfpack, is short but full of actionable advice. She illustrates with stories from her own experience, and she unapologetically makes the case for a sisterhood of women supporting each other.
I have two favorite chapters. From Chapter Three: Lead from the Bench:
Old Rule: Wait for permission to lead.
New Rule: Lead now – from wherever you are
This is a woman after my own heart. I’m fairly sure she did not read my manifesto, and yet her words really speak to my philosophy as well.
In Chapter Seven: Bring it All, she tells us:
Old Rule: Lead with dominance. Create Followers.
New Rule: Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.
Yes. Leaders all around us. People who are awake, aware, conscious and engaged in what is meaningful to them.
I look forward to new models of leadership in the world, more inclusive and supportive than the models of the past. We are ready for a fresh approach. The old way we have followed results in stress, burnout, environmental distress and war.
We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created those problems. Instead, we must rally the Pack toward our shared destiny. Amen, Abby!
I am going a little rant, so pardon me in advance for doing it. Of course if you choose to read my blog, this is what you’re going to get now and then. You accept it. Maybe you even enjoy it.
Many organizations lack the flexibility they will need to thrive in a future that looks very different from the present. Or possibly I have not found the “holy grail” of flex work yet, and if anyone can shed some light on this, I will be grateful.
The future of work will not have everyone working 8+ hours for 5 days a week. I am fairly sure of that, based on the research and reading I have done about the evolving workforce. But most companies still seem reluctant to take on employees at less than a 100% commitment. Not only do they want your time, they seem to want your soul.
Ideally for me, a 20-30 hour gig would be perfect. 3-4 days a week of full time work would be ideal, so I could build up the larger vision of my practice (the tagline of which is “Embody the Leader Within You“). I realize it takes time and clientele built over time to achieve my vision, and I am willing to work at it part-time for now, supplementing with a job in an organization. But most organizations either want 100% of your time, or nothing.
I was talking with a friend who is retired, and she told me she had planned to work part-time for a few months or a year for her employer. But they were not willing to consider that, after many years of full time work. When she decided to leave, they gave her 3 weeks to train her replacement and then she was gone. She is now retired now and doing all of the things she loves to do, living free and happy.
But that workplace missed out on some highly experienced and mature work. I am guessing that the Gen X or Baby Boomer manager did not properly value her contribution or may have had stereotypes about her ability to learn technology.
This is a sad state. I am a Gen X/cusper myself and I can often identify with the situation of millennials (Gen Y) individuals. However, in my limited experience with Gen Y versus Boomer employees, I would go for the latter every time. Mature workers show up every day and they understand that they will not receive a trophy just for doing the bare minimum.
I realize I am over-generalizing here, but mature workers know how to have a conversation. While some of them may be as wedded to their phones as the millennials, most have basic manners as well as focus and attention. They understand the subtle dynamics of social interaction, and how to adjust accordingly to circumstances.
I have worked with Boomer employees who got more done in 15 hours a week than the interns I hired who worked 40 hours a week. So please, if you are in a position to hire someone: do not rule out someone who wants to work for you for 25-30 hours a week. I will bet that that this person may be more productive in those hours than the 40 hour worker, and possibly more loyal if you hire them as well.
On New Year’s Day this year I finished reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. It felt like a fitting time to finish the book, given the reflective time of the year. I truly enjoyed learning her insights, understanding her struggles, and relating to her need for achievement, given her humble beginnings.
It got me to think about my own journey of “becoming” and the ways in which our beliefs, decisions and actions in our lives determine our journeys. I love the way Michelle Obama owns her story, and reveals a full experience of living her extraordinary life, in a way that feels genuine. She is definitely an example of what is possible to so many people in the world.
We all need to own our stories. We need to take responsibility for the choices and mistakes we make. The power of self-belief and having supportive families really comes through through in her writing. Michelle Obama takes nothing for granted in terms of having parents who sacrificed mightily in their lives so that she could excel professionally and personally. She also helps us understand the internal and personal conflicts of a feminist who had to assume a different role when deciding to support her husband’s visionary candidacy and Presidency.
I believe her wisdom will resonate with so many women of our generation (she is only 10 years older than me). I am grateful that a group of my friends will be able to attend an event in St. Paul in March, a conversation with her, where we will hear her speak. Women’s voices have powerful resonance when they speak their truth. Her story is courageous and inspiring, and I would bet that yours is too.
Who are you becoming? What have you had to overcome to be where you are today?
The night of the election I stayed up until the 1 a.m. captivated by the drama of election returns, of the great sweep of the Democrats into the House of Representatives. After hanging out with some like-minded local political volunteers and neighbors, I came home feeling optimistic, happy and excited.
Turning the t.v. off was hard, but I reasoned that more would be known in the morning, and sleep was a better use of my time than speculation. In the morning, I spent time listening to my public radio station, reading news stories and absorbing the social media feed from my friends. I commented, considered the implications of the results and attempted to connect the dots.
After about 2.5 hours of that, my body and synapses were already feeling burned and tired. I opted to attend my favorite Wednesday Zumba class. It is a great way to dance it all out, and to get out of my head and back into my body. Ahh!
Since I had an interview in the afternoon for an Upwork contract, an opportunity to do some writing and research for a bio-pharmaceutical company, I did not turn the radio back on when I returned home. Instead, I showered, had some lunch, got quiet and prepared my questions for the interview.
In the process, I was captivated by the research I was doing and felt a sense of flow emerging. I had no feeling of “FOMO” by staying off of social media. The storm of opinions will continue to brew while I get my work done, I told myself.
I figured I would return to it in the evening, flip the radio on and begin consuming the drama once again. But something in my body said “no, not right now.” I opted to run an errand, go to the grocery store and take care of the mundane habits to which we all must tend.
I listened to another chapter of an Ann Patchett book which I’d downloaded on Audible over the weekend as a “treat” to myself for those times when I want a break from work.
I considered my unwillingness to listen to the talking heads. I meditated. I wrote in my journal. I took my own advice from yesterday. I felt peaceful and centered.
There is a theatrical aspect of politics which lends itself to using these stories as a form of entertainment. It is a serious endeavor, to be sure, but it is also drama. I have no wish to hear the president’s voice. I had already heard a bit on the car ride on the way home from Zumba, so promptly turned it off. He is not a good actor at all. Seriously.
Normally I love analyzing the semiotics and messaging of campaign language and considering the meaning behind the results. I expect I will return to that sometime.
For now, the dust will settle and I will turn away from it for a bit. With my new work contract starting, I am excited to make some “real monies” again as I joked to my husband. I shall savor that, and enjoy every moment of it.
Now that the excitement of this midterm election has come to a close, it is time to rest and digest. After all the “aerobic” energy of the campaign and election season, and as we process the results, we must enter a season of pausing and reflecting.
I am relieved this election cycle is over. Some of the returns have yet to be finalized but I am happy to see that the turnouts were high, and more women were voted into office than ever before.
Though I did not get to bed very early because I was still watching election returns, I know I will need some down time to recover this week. I identify as an introvert, so I am aware of my need for more down time than the average person. I have found that if I approach life in terms of cycles of intense activity followed by adequate rest, I am able to make better decisions for the long-term.
Maybe it is a product of age or maturity but I feel like it is easier to see the big picture than it used to be. I recognize that it is necessary to regroup and recharge between the intervals of intensity. As it turns out, this is how we best deal with stress in our lives. Stress in itself is not bad, and is in fact necessary in a healthy life.
But chronic and unrelenting stress for long periods take a toll on our bodies, our immune systems and our mental health as well. So take a break, gather your energy, allow some time for reflection and recovery. We will live and be stronger in case we need to “fight” another day for important causes that matter to us.