Today I’m celebrating the courage of women.
Here’s why – over the past fifteen years I’ve seen the struggle, the intention, the risk, the raw power, the trust and the courage it takes for a woman in leadership to stand behind what she sees and take action on what she knows to be true.
It isn’t easy. The world we live in today – especially in America, and especially in the corporate and public sectors – was not built by, or for, women. This is easy enough to say in passing. But what does it really mean?
- Our ideas are often ignored
- Our longings often don’t count
- Our bodies are often used and discarded
- Our investment of energy is often taken for granted
- Our needs are either made less than, or capitalized upon for big dividends
- Our intuition is often not taken seriously
- Our core skills are often subverted
- And our strengths – the ones we know are our greatest superpowers – are often not fully rewarded at work…
…even when these very strengths, ideas, longings and intuitions have the potential to transform the entire organization or industry for the better.
Probably, I’m preaching to the choir. You know this. You’ve lived this. As a woman or an ally, you are familiar with the costs.
But what I’m not sure you fully believe yet is how truly ready the system is for change.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve made a living translating the tools of the feminine (tools like dance, body-based wisdom, intuition, ritual, compassion, justified rage, joy and desire) into credible, corporate appropriate and highly effective leadership development programs.
About half of my work has always focused on full organizations and leadership teams (read: people of all genders). But I have maintained a strong stand that programs just for women are also needed, in order to uniquely empower us to regain access to these parts of ourselves, and begin truly trusting them again.
What I’ve seen in the past two years is that far more women are ready and longing for this type of support. And, that the women who step into these programs are getting more traction than ever before – their ideas are landing, their bosses are paying attention, their roles are expanding, and the scales are starting to tip in very good ways.
In June, in the middle of the global COVID pandemic, and on the heels of a firey explosion of justified rage against racial injustice, I opened the doors to one such program.
Seventeen women – also in the midst of the global pandemic and racial unrest – took the risk to step into a personal and professional development program designed to help them step out of survival strategies, and catalyze a more empowered, proactive, self-trusting, and innovative version of their leadership.
They kicked ass. And they taught me what courage truly looks like at this time.
Here’s what their courage looked like:
- seeing through differences to hold big space for one another’s pain, fear and success
- putting down some of the burden of carrying the entire weight of her family and community on her back and giving herself space to release tears and trauma, so that she could feel lighter moving forward
- facing a layoff with curiosity, courage and hope, while taking a stand physically, mentally and emotionally for her own dignity and value
- deciding to apply for jobs that make real use of her skills, where her colleagues deeply respect her and are ready to receive the real contribution she is capable of making
- finding new words to explain to her kids why mommy was having a meltdown, and enrolling the entire family in her bigger vision for herself
- acknowledging her longing for a geographic move that would enable her to re-weave family, community and career
- drawing a line regarding her own people-pleasing habits, and having more difficult boundary-setting conversations line her up with her mission and with God
- calling a friend and being more honest than ever before about her struggles and desires
- letting go of “either or” thinking, and finding a rhythm that would enable her to pursue her social-justice mission while also honoring her years investment in her career in law
- honoring anxiety, risking vulnerability and allowing herself the grace to make mistakes
- being honest with herself that the golden structure of her life is actually a cage, and making plans to start taking it apart
And here are some of ways their risk has paid off:
- discovering a new mission that focuses on “we” more than “me”
- releasing baggage she’d been carrying for decades
- securing an even better role at a new company, before the layoff process was complete
- having an unexpectedly candid and supportive conversation with a senior leader about re-designing her role
- getting acknowledged for being a powerful spokesperson for the company, in a way that still “felt like herself”
- feeling radiant, empowered and ready to drive bigger change
- having the confidence to bring more of her voice into the room and take a stronger stand for social justice at work
- landing an interview for a dream job
- tapping into a more authentic side of her leadership that had been buried for years
- discovering – and truly believing – that we are not alone
Today I am celebrating the courage of women. I am publicly acknowledging what’s possible when we take the wheel and trust we can drive in our own way.
I am declaring that the world needs more of us to do the same. I am agreeing that it isn’t easy – in some cases, damn near impossible still. But I am also affirming that it’s worth it. The ripples that get created from this type of courage are far reaching.
I am thanking the seventeen women who joined this summer’s MEME Embodied Leadership program.
And I am holding space for your courage, your impact, and the ripples you will generate this year.
PS – here’s what these women are saying about their recent experience (below)… you can also find out more about our programs for leaders and world shapers HERE.
Director of Research and Evaluation | The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
As a professional woman leveling up in my career, I felt greater anxiety to deliver. Through the MEME course, I was able to witness myself such that I could name the source of the anxiety and develop new practices and habits that would address the core concerns.
Industry Specialist | Apple
Before this course, I was exhausted, on edge and looking down the barrel of burnout. More things have shifted in the last 8 weeks than I thought possible! feel re-energized and excited about moving forward. I couldn't recommend enough LeeAnn's unique work and this program as a significant jump-start for those looking to lead from an authentic, sustainable and feminine perspective.
Brand Activation Manager | E.J. Gallo Winery
Just WOW. I felt this strange pull and resistance to participating in Meme at the very same time. I knew I would come to powerful conclusions, but that felt so uncomfortable. The group was powerful, empathetic, and engaged - I was amazed by everyone who participated. I am feeling so empowered in my truth and what I am working towards in life thanks to this program! Thank you LeeAnn!
Director of Business & Operations | Google
Over the past two months, I got the support to start the journey on a new career path from a very new and different place, a place of ease and intuition that feels sustainable and aligned with my deepest longings and desires.
New Business Development | Nextera Energy
LeeAnn’s incredible intuition and coaching helped me identify where I was stuck and how I needed to grow. As I result, I feel less stressed and am living more authentically. What I learned in the MEME program has become the foundation for my leadership practice.
Marketing Project Manager | Bayer Healthcare LLC
MEME was unlike any leadership program I have attended. Our trusting diverse group of women delved deep in our being to discover our individual blockers, find strength in with them and reinvigorate our personal sense of purpose. It was a truly transformative experience for me. I also have practical tools to help me for both my personal and professional career. Thanks, LeeAnn!