The Sum – Meaning of the Week: Light

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.” — Warren Bennis.

Word of the week is LIGHT.

As in seeing a path where others have not walked.

As in illuminating big intentions.

As in shining the light that only you can.

Seeing a Path Where Others Have Not Walked

Time Magazine chronicled 45 living female firsts this week and I started to worry. Some of their trailblazers you know well, like Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey; others are less famous but created new paths just as difficult, like Lori Robinson, the first woman to lead a top tier combat command. (BTW, congrats to Rosalind Brewer, just announced as the first woman and first African American COO and Group President of Starbucks though not in the Time article)!

I worry about whether women will lose those qualities that make governments function better, city economies thrive, and companies more successful when they have more female leaders.  In a gender-equal world, would there even have been a Lord of the Flies story—now being redone by Hollywood with an all-female cast?

Still, I marvel at the many women who bested all kinds of odds, including the microbehaviors described here by Anita Sands Brown who has experienced them up close, to open the pathway for women in leadership. How did they have the intention to see the possibilities and the ambition to persist to success?

Forty years ago, a groundbreaking space mission Voyager was launched. Did you know that women played a key role? If you’d like to meet two of them, join me for a live webchat Wednesday, September 13th at 6:30 pm ET—register here for Take The Lead’s monthly Virtual Happy Hour. I’ll get to interview two of the pioneering engineers and scientist whose contributions were essential to the 1977 Voyager missions, Fran Bagenal and Linda Morabito for a live chat to discuss what it was like to be a part of the groundbreaking NASA exploration. There’s a new PBS documentary The Farthest: Voyager in Space about the mission and how women continue to make their mark on space exploration. Astronaut Peggy Whitson to name one just landed back on earth after a record-breaking 600 days in space.

My friend Lawrence Krauss’s op ed mused about the Voyager’s 40th anniversary in The New York Times, speculating on where humanity will be in the interstellar world 40 years hence. Are there women who Take The Lead in determining our fate on this planet and beyond by lighting up new trails in technology and science? I’m betting there are. Maybe you?

We’re Illuminating Big Intentions With Take The Lead Day

Put November 14 on your calendar right now, because it’s going to be BRILLIANT and BIG and you won’t want to miss it. The first ever Take The Lead Day will feature workshops, webinars, and people and parties to remember. More information to come—lots more information. Watch “The Sum” every week for updates!

Shining The Light That Only You Can

Reese Witherspoon and I have this much in common at least: we’re both former Glamour Women of the Year. She fired up the house with her acceptance speech in 2015, when she challenged schoolgirls filling the balcony at Carnegie Hall to embrace ambition.

Now read her October Glamour cover essay. It’s an even more impassioned exhortation. I want to chat with her about my distinction between ambition and intention. I think she’ll agree that one of the reasons women need these pep talks is that girls are socialized to think first about what others think of them. That puts the locus of power outside oneself. To elevate ambition, we must first lift the intentionality to have ambition. This is why I focus increasingly on teaching and speaking about the power of intention.

You can’t carve a new path unless you have the intention to do so and are in touch with your inner power, the light that only you can shine in this world.

Witherspoon ends her essay with her intention: “[W]hat would happen if we encouraged all women to be a little more ambitious? I think the world would change.”

I had the great pleasure this week of being the guest speaker for a burgeoning group of women, 3000 strong nationally, called Changemaker Chats. They bill themselves as “a community of ambitious women.”

Their theme this month is individuality. I was skillfully interviewed by Chloe Lew at a gathering of their NY chapter.  Chloe asked me, “How have you learned to foster individuality and is there any advice you can give us on staying true to ourselves while balancing industry expectations and standards?

Watch this video to see my response. And remember that what sets you apart gets you ahead. So go ahead and illuminate that new path of your biggest intentions by shining the light that only you can.

Come to think of it, Reese, you and I have quite a lot in common. I think we need you to speak at Take The Lead Day.

Welcome to The Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

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