The Sum – Meaning of the Week: Crossroads (Part 2)

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

Word of the week is Crossroads (part 2)

As in Charlottesville

As in the junctions in life where we must choose hate or love, war or peace, yes or no.

‪As in if ever there was a week when we have to address the moral crossroads of leadership that I talked about in last week’s Sum, this is it.

‪I was walking the Highline yesterday with a friend who has two small children. The first topic after “how are you?” was not surprisingly “how do you explain white supremacists and the violence that killed Heather Heyer to your kids?” Sheryl Sandberg wrote a moving post (on Facebook, of course) about the challenge of sharing a book about the Holocaust with her 10-year old daughter and the importance of having those difficult conversations with children as a way of teaching them to be vigilant in fighting bigotry and hatred like that displayed in Charlottesville. She said, “The brave Heather Heyer’s mother Susan Bro said she wanted her daughter’s death to be ‘a rallying cry for justice and equality and fairness and compassion.’ Let us honor her by teaching all of our children how to honor and respect those values.”

Continue reading “The Sum – Meaning of the Week: Crossroads (Part 2)”

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.

THE BIGGER THEY ARE THE HARDER THEY FALL (and vice versa)

When I was four or five, my daddy took me to the Golden Gloves amateur boxing finals in our small hometown of Temple, Texas.  The crowd let out a mighty roar as the two boxers came out into the ring and raised their arms in that cocky “I’m the man” stance. One contestant, dressed in white trunks and shirt looked significantly larger than the other more muscular man who was wearing red and black if my memory serves.

As both men surveyed the crowd while doing their pre-bout strut around the ring, I pointed to the man in white and said to Daddy, “That big one is going to win.”

My father stopped cheering, looked me square in the eyes, and said to me, “Dodie (his pet name for me), the bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Daddy’s admonition has come back to me so many times over, none more so than watching Eliot Spitzer resign from his post as governor of New York today in the whorl of a sex and illegal prostitution-procurement scandal.

That a man with such outsized privilege, intelligence, drive, and yes I do believe true passion for public service that advances the public good can make it to the top only to plummet in such a steep fall is a morality tale of equally outsized proportions.

That big guy did indeed lose the boxing match–in fact he was knocked out flat in the first round by the smaller boxer who was faster on his feet. Since children tend to think literally, I puzzled over the illogic of it for a long time afterward. As I grew in years and experience, I began to understand the wisdom of the aphorism my father had shared with me. It’s not so much about the assets you bring into the ring of life, but what you do with them that counts. And no one is above the rules of the game.

Here, today. the tragic truth that the bigger you are the harder you fall is once again evident.

And in regard to alpha men like Eliot Spitzer, this is equally true when you reverse the position of the adjectives.

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.