Time to Lead


I left the house Saturday morning expecting to join 1,000 or so people at Portland's Women's March. Instead, I found myself shoulder-to-shoulder with more than 10,000. It took my breath away. What really caught my eye was the positive, forward-thinking tone of so many of the signs. Oh, there were plenty that promoted resistance and pushed back against people and policies, but there were at least as many that joyously or humorously advocated for something (strength of character, love, caring, inclusion, community).

The difference in the pulling-power of these "for" signs was stunning to me. Mother Theresa famously refused to leave her daily chores to join an anti-war rally, but declared she would gladly show up for a peace rally. I must say, in this arena, I am with her. I have seen the truth that "what you resist, persists," and the extraordinary power of an irresistible WHY combined with a compelling vision of what can be.

I have seen how this vibrant kind of leadership - the kind that inspires, empowers and engages others deeply - ripples out into the world. And it seems to me, now more than ever, perhaps, that we need leaders like these, not just in politics and social change, but in every organization and workplace, large and small, in every team of people striving toward a goal.

At the Washington march, activist Valerie Kaur asked, "What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb – but the darkness of the womb?" What if this is the time for old, dark, exhausting models of leadership to fall away and for the light of inspired personal leadership to be born fully into the world?

So, for the first time since I was called to advocate for the beautiful strengths and resilience of our youth, I am being called to a new singular, whole-hearted focus: The birth, care and nurturing of inspired personal leaders. Let me tell you who "they" are by painting a vision of "we."

  • We lead from our expansive artist-brains, not our protective lizard brains, and we have learned to navigate the distance between. (Thank you, Seth Godin, for the metaphor.) And we inspire and require the same from others.

  • We spend more time in our strengths than in our weaknesses, and empower others to do the same.

  • We know our irresistible WHY and infect everyone around us with its organizing power.

  • We articulate, often, and with clarity and passion, a vivid picture of what is possible.

  • We act with consummate integrity, our expectations are high - and we inspire and require the same from those with whom we work.

  • We understand that momentum (not our strategic plan) or is our most powerful tool.

  • We know there are times to let go of the old, create the new, or sustain what we have created. We seek the wisdom to know the difference, and the courage to act accordingly.

Let us begin now.

We've got this.