Women and Emerging Futures

The next wave of my own evolution lies in exploring the potential of women to profoundly shape our world. Not only if women can but if women will...do what is required to make the difference. This demands redefining our notions of 'leadership' and reclaiming meaningful expression for women. To progress beyond historical notions of evolution through incremental change, we must redefine what it is to be human - and women are the key.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The ragged edge of intensity

Day 2 of the Emerging Futures: Leadership Redefined - Reclaimed. Metaphors are wonderful things. Today's was that of smoke leaving the fireplace and wafting into the room. It was not the only smoke there.

Through the day, I was aware of the degree to which women have become habituated to being nice; to staying in the conversations at the level of the veneer and not straying too close to the wood. As I sit and listen, another conversation forms itself inside me - the one that speaks to lives in a box...or lives existing and not lived...or lives on 'pause' while waiting for something to make living it more interesting. In those moments, clear that what it will take to disturb the deep sleep of habituation and complacency is something robust and rugged enough to stand the mind-and-body numbing effects of coma; and ragged and jagged enough to penetrate the thick calous that has formed over this successful, reasonable and moderate life. I wonder sometimes, if the coma is better or worse than the shock of waking up.

It's not up to me to decide which is better. It is up to me to trust them - and myself - and recognize that if they have chosen to put themselves into these conversations, they are doing so because they're ready for the acceleration that comes with it.

Day 2 and it feels like we've been here for weeks! And, as much as I know how that feels, I also know that when Thursday rolls around to 4:30 and it's time to leave, it will all have passed in the blink of an eye.

Were I to identify what I believe is the most detrimental of the multitude of ways that women keep themselves small, it would be to presume that other women can't take it...can't handle it...are not up to the task of engaging in ways that are clear, open, honest and direct. Women do this with each other and presuppose that to demonstrate any authentic expression of that which is raw and ragged is somehow going to overwhelm the 'other'. In all the years that I've been working with women, I can count on one hand those who have been overwhelmed by an authentic expression by another - even when accompanied by intensity and noise. On one hand! That's not bad. I've been doing this for 20 years.

Today, as our day came to a close, I asked all of the women to ponder this question: what comes to mind when you think of being alone? When you consider that taking a stand for something that is deeply meaningful to you may result in others moving away from you, what is it like to consider being alone? What is the relationship between leadership and standing alone?

Tomorrow, we move to a smaller space that is closer to the edge of the water. A stiff wind, and the Atlantic will be lapping at the door! In much closer physical contact and in conversations that will cut closer to the bone, the intensity will increase yet again. I have no idea where the exploration of leadership will go AND I do know that it will be compelling and riveting! These leadership conversations are not about redefining leadership 'out there' but are about redefining and reshaping leadership as an expression of the authentic and unique presence that each of these women happens to be.

There is no leadership 'out there'. There is only each of us, living an awakened life or running habits. Who we are as 'leader' will replicate that in the lives of others.

Breathing is good....


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