Five fists bump together in a star shape, over a desk covered in laptops, phones, coffee cups, notepads and files. The people whose fists these are have clearly been working together around this desk.

We have a mailing list! Do sign up…

She Leads Change began with a big idea and a small group of women in November last year. Our community has grown, and we’ve welcomed incredible people from all spheres who are participating, mentoring, advising and supporting the programme’s inception and growth.

So we’re delighted to share that we now have a mailing list! Many of you have been following us through our news blogs; we’ll now be able to communicate more effectively, as well as keep you up to date with our events, new cohorts and invitations to get more involved and shape She Leads Change as we grow.

You can choose what you’d like to hear about and sign up here: http://eepurl.com/diMmlf. Please do!

 

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Weathering life’s hardest knocks

“I can be changed by what happens to me.  But I refuse to be reduced by it” Maya Angelou

Our 4th She Leads Change session on resilience was made all the more powerful by the contribution of our expert speaker, Alister Scott. He shared on resilience, how to be present, appreciate life and perceive what is important, as we navigate the course set before us.

Alister brings his skills to bear supporting catalysts and their teams to achieve change.

His book, ‘The Little Book of Making Big Change Happen’ is available at all good booksellers, or via this link here, where you’ll also find audio extracts and a link to buy directly from the publisher.  (Discount orders of 10 or more copies receive a 30% discount…could you order more, and pay it forward?)

You can also find his short note on resilience from the book, mentioned at the end of this video, on the enabling catalysts website.

Know you want to work on your own resilience, amongst other things? Apply now to be part of the next She Leads Change cohorts, starting 3rd and 4th September 2018.

Celebrating change-makers everywhere on Nelson Mandela’s birthday!

Congratulations to our community for the phenomenal change they are making…

If you had 100 minutes to make a change, what would you do?

What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

Build the foundations within yourself to create the change you want to see in the world, with courage and confidence.

Join our four-month peer-mentoring programme for purpose-driven women: a support collective building confidence, resilience and forming powerful connections. She Leads Change amplifies and accelerates the positive social impact women are making in the world. Apply now for September start: www.sheleadschange.org/sign-up/.

In Pursuit of Purpose

In my line of work the buzzword for the past few years has been ‘purpose’. Whether its large companies re-framing their sustainability strategy around purpose, recruiters looking for a “purpose fit” for graduates or individuals stepping forward to declare their ‘reason for being’ –  the word purpose is everywhere. Purpose and happiness have been presented as inextricably intertwined. It is supported by the rise of positive psychology, by research on millennial’s that states “young people want more than a pay check and a job title”. Its importance has been further reinforced by leading thinkers like Victor Frankl and the seminal book ‘Man’s search for meaning’ and popular writers like Simon Sinek and his “Start with why”.

I work with leaders for positive social and environmental transformation. Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that this need for purpose is creating considerable anxiety. “But what am I here for…?” one person asked. Another said, “I love my work, but it is not aligned to my purpose in the world – how do I change this” and still another bemoaned her “lack of a clear purpose”. All these people feel guilty, restless, disappointed or lost for not having a clear purpose to direct their lives.

I support the overall societal goal to contribute and believe we all have a role as citizens to work towards a better society. And yes, people can be happier when they are able to see the relevance of their life and work with the context of a grander design. However, I’m starting to question the centrality of the ‘purpose’ conversation. Let’s scratch beneath this ubiquitous word…

purposeSometimes the need to find a purpose is an inner cry to find a reason to exist. It’s a sneaky cover-up for that old, rough feeling of ‘not being enough’. In this case it’s often a way of externalising inner need instead of addressing the root cause. Yet, anyone who has truly found purpose understands that it can only come from a deep sense of and understanding of ‘self’. Perhaps Socrates had it right when he said that to ‘Know Thyself’ is the route to all wisdom. So, start with who you are not why you exist.

At its worst this push to find purpose can play into the idea that we are only on this planet to serve and that our value is measured solely by our value to others. It’s a mirror of the current socio-economic systems that measures the value of humans against contribution to GDP, sets meaning top-down and sees people as homogenous, interchangeable units. This is a nasty trap both because it erodes the basis of our humanity and because it sets the value of a human life as extrinsic. A healthier alternative is to believe that the only thing we are compelled to do is live each day fully and gracefully, in gratitude for our place here on earth and with no pressure to focus our energy on finding any additional meaning. Surely people can be happy and feel satisfied with their life simply by getting up each day and going for a walk, hugging someone they care about, being kind and watching the clouds go by? The catch-all umbrella of ‘purpose’ mimics the existing system of control by creating a collective aspiration that is outside of individual needs, aspirations, talents and, therefore, humanity. Tom Mansfield, a fascinating thinker, comments “Perhaps we cannot reconcile our present individual fulfilment with systems level purpose until we have an economic paradigm that forces the system to work for individuals not the other way around to value the quality of our subjective, sensorial present. A collective purpose may emerge from a society predicated on the enrichment of each individuals sensorial present rather and the pursuit of extrinsic goals.” Perhaps he is right.

The idea of a single purpose may also be misleading. As we journey through life new vistas are revealed and, with that, our purpose may shift and expand. Trying too hard to cling to an outmoded world-view may stop us from growing and learning. Perhaps the ‘purpose’ of life is only to grow and learn our way through and into different ways of unfolding our unique talents against emergent positive societal needs.

Lastly, the idea of purpose sets a longer time frame on our happiness. It shifts our focus from enjoying the present to a loftier future time. Yet, it is precisely in the moment that we create meaning for ourselves. By being truly present in the moment we connect better with ourselves and others – two potential sources of joy!

Perhaps then, for those millions who can’t state their purpose, there is a softer way to move toward it. They can start by asking themselves what gives them meaning and then each day noticing those things that make them feel more fulfilled.  By doing more of the things that deepen their experience of being, they are consciously building a life that grows around both knowing themselves and, ultimately, serving a higher collective purpose.


With gratitude to Tom Mansfield and Gita Parihar for their thoughts on this topic.

What do you think…? 

Building resilience

Whatever change we’re leading, we all need the ability to fail, cope with shame and humiliation, and get back up again, to face down criticism and confusion, to navigate frustration and journey through grief. As Hillary Clinton, and many others before her have said “When you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.”

But when you’re knocked down, getting back up can be one of the hardest things to do. In session five of She Leads Change, we explore our own resilience. In the spirit of the ‘noticing’ theme that runs through every She Leads Change session, the pre-read begins with consideration of what resilience means to us personally.

What does it mean to you? Take a moment to note down your reaction to the following words. Where the question mark is, write down and look at any other words that came up for you and you’d like to add.

What this makes me feel What this makes me think/do How this relates to resilience
Failure
Success
Control
Anger
Confrontation
Compassion
Shame
Perfection
?
?

Reading back through your responses, ask yourself – what does resilience mean to you? This does not need to be a dictionary perfect definition. It needs to feel personal and relevant to your life.

To return to Hillary Clinton, she said in a 1995 speech “It is often when night looks darkest, it is often before the fever breaks that one senses the gathering momentum for change, when one feels that resurrection of hope in the midst of despair and apathy.”

We closed out our session with this guided meditation, “Be the Mountain”*.

How do you find the patient strength and stability within yourself to weather changes?

Curious to find out more? Apply now for the next She Leads Change cohorts, starting 3rd and 4th September 2018.


*Be the Mountain meditation adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s “Mountain Meditation” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/my-brothers-keeper/201709/be-the-mountain-guided-meditation-video-script)

How does your context impact your confidence?

There is a wonderful expression “the fish is the last to see the water”. With culture often we are so ‘in it’, have so few alternative reference points and have so deeply internalised it that we don’t ‘see’ it. We therefore take on many of societies toxic elements as our ‘own’ as opposed to recognising them for social constructs that we can choose to comply with – or not.

Session 4 of the She Leads Change programme provides space for participants to become aware of the broader cultural constructs that impact them and to begin to consciously choose how to react and engage.  We offer participants, in our extensive pre-read on the topic, exercises to notice the culture we operate within and our response. One of these is set out below:

1. Understanding self:
What are your internalised beliefs about gender? These may include: beauty, speaking in public, political representation, roles in the home/work, way of framing conversations, earning capacity, etc. Where do use gender-related power? What do you feel valued for? Where are you subject to it? Mentally, track a day and notice 5 things you do to conform a gender stereotype:

 

2. Understanding other:
How do beliefs on gender limit others? Where, for example, are men constrained to narrow definitions of behaviour? How do you treat other women in personal and professional situations? Is this different to how you treat men? Think about 3 situations where you notice yours/others behaviour to one another impacted by gender bias:

 

3. Understanding whole:
How does gender shape reward and behaviour in your organisation? What are the differences between male and female seniority and pay in your organisation? In meetings – who is speaking out the most? What are the different types of roles? How do women speak differently to men? Where do ownem use traditional female sources of power? Is there a difference between female leadership and feminine leadership? Where are social norms accepted e.g. who gets the restaurant bill, receives the question, opens the door? Note down 5 specific examples where your organisation is limited by gender stereotyping:

 

 

As part of our sessions each month we invite an expert on the topic to provide us with a deeper understanding and answer our trickier questions. Here Anna Birney from the School for Systems Change talks systems, power and being authentic.

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Curious aboutSheLeads Change? Join our September programme. We are now taking applications.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you
something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Next Steps: She Leads Change Open Session 17th April

Hello All

What a WONDERFUL evening we had on Tuesday!

Thank you to those that joined for bringing so much curiosity and openess. We loved hearing your stories and sharing and connecting with you.

It would be brilliant if you’d join us on our journey.

You can do this in a few ways:

1. Particpate in the Programme: We are excited to say we are open for bookings!  Group 3 will start on 22nd May and continue on the third Tuesday every month for 6 months. Group 4 will start on 24th May and then continue on the third Thursday of every month.  We will take a summer break! After the first meeting, groups can negotiate between theselves if they’d prefer to meet on an alternate evening. If you can’t make those dates, please do indicate as we will try to accomodate everyone.

If you haven’t already, please do apply soon – the places are filling up and we would love you to join. https://sheleadschange.org/sign-up/

2. Coach on the programme: Coaching is a commitment of 4hours minimum over the 6months in a format that suits and could be either virtual or physical. We publish your profile and the particpants choose who they’d like to work with based on their particular needs, at the time. We seem to be inadvertenlty forming a parallel community of remarkable women coaches – we will encourage gatherings for the coaches (and for the whole SLC community).

If you’d like to coach (and haven’t already), please do send your motivation, a brief profile and a link to your linked-in profile to hello@sheleadschange.org

3. Be an expert: Each session we find an expert that can speak virtually to a particular topic – bringing depth to our conversation.  It is normally about 20minutes of comments and 10minutes of Q&A. We’d welcome your involvement in this if you have relevant expertise to bring and/or if there is someone you’d like to recomend. The next session is on resiliance. You can see an example of an expert session here: https://sheleadschange.org/2018/03/22/understanding-self-erma-steyn/

Please do drop us a line if this appeals, with your topic.

4. Sponsor a place(s): We’d like She Leads Change to be as inclusive as possible and our pricing makes it very accessible. However, we find wonderful people who need to be supported to join the course. If you can help – please do. You can find out more here: https://sheleadschange.org/contact/payment-sponsor-a-place/ On that note – if you or your company would like to support the broader She Leads Change organisation offering funding or venues or other support (we’d like to strengthen the team and offer the programme in other places). We would be delighted to speak!

Last, we welcome ANY feedback.  As you know we are on a co-learning journey and you can help us be stronger, better and – ultimately – be more impactful.

Please do get in touch with any questions/suggestions/offers and compliments!

Looking forward to seeing you soon,

Nicola, Emily, Antonia, Steph, Joand the SLC community

SLC Open Evening (2)

UNDERSTANDING ‘OTHER’

Last months session focused on exploring our relationships with others. We used various exercises and quotes to frame the session – including this wonderful one from Victor Frankel: Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

During the session, we reflected on three areas:

  • How we are turning up? We explored what we bring into a relationship in terms of our own self-knowledge, biases, expectations and ideas. We examined our trickiest relationships as an opportunity to understand our own selves better, by acknowledging our shadow. And we all chuckled at the quote “You teach others how to treat you”.
  • How we are connecting? Here we examined how we communicate and how people differ. We used various frameworks, including one that differentiated styles between introverts and extroverts, and those who were more people or task driven. We noticed where we masked language with ‘sort of’, ‘I just thought’, ‘possibly’ and other words that reduce the impact of what we say. There were some deep realisations during this part of the session. One person said “Don’t judge others outsides by your insides”.
  • What contains the connection? We examined how much we trust each other, the unsaid in the space between and our shared and different objectives. We thought about how to transform a relationship by changing the context– by finding the ‘blue feather’ the shared, element that exists within a black and white situation that helps both parties move beyond a binary approach.

Another strong topic was ‘agency’.  The choice remains ours how we interact and with who. To decide to engage, how to engage, to pause to consider a reaction and to re-set at any stage the terms of engagement.

We were lucky enough to have Debbie Warrener ‘beam-in’ as our expert to provide us with her thoughts on the topic. She is one of the volunteer coaches on the programme. Debbie approached the topic in her gentle, informed way and left us with some great insight…

We’d encourage you to reach out to Debbie if what she says resonates with you.  She can be found here.

If you have an area of expertise that is relevant to She Leads Change and you’d like to share, please do get in touch with hello@sheleadschange.org. We currently divide our work into 6 sessions: Vision, Self, Other, Whole, Resilience and Beyond, and welcome any thoughts, speakers, tools/techniques or other contributions.

If you are curious about the programme, please do join on our next open evening to find out more. We’d love to meet you. 

 

Invitation – She Leads Change: Open Session 17 April

If you feel that with more confidence and courage you could be more impactful – please join us for the evening from 17:30 to 20:00 on Tuesday 17th April to find out more about She Leads Change: Confidence, Courage and Connection for Changemakers. 

We invite you, as a purpose-driven women, to join us to explore, learn, connect and experience a taste of our peer-learning programme alongside other outstanding women. We’d be delighted to meet you and to understand both what you are looking for – and what you could bring.

Sign-up here.

This evening will give you an understanding of the 6-month She Leads Change Programme. It will show how, together, we create confidence ‘in action’, how we help reframe personal/professional perspectives for growth, you’ll learn some useful techniques, and you’ll see the impressive calibre of people we have involved. We will take you through the structure over the 6-months, showcase some of the materials and introduce you to current participants and coaches. The evening might even be fun!

This is for women that at heart are strong, sassy and inspiring, that live toward purpose and are committed to positive change – yet – also feel small and vulnerable and wonder if they can…We invite any change-makers as potential participants, irrespective of age, career stage or income level.  Do join!

Come and join us to meet those involved so far, find out more about She Leads Change and discuss what you could bring to the course at our Open Session 5:30-8pm on 17 April 2017. Sign up here. 

If you can’t join on the 17th, but want to be part of the next group, please apply here: Yes to She Leads Change

For further questions, please contact us at: hello@sheleadschange.org

We’re looking forward to meeting YOU! 

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What does it offer?

LEARNING: a structured learning programme over 6 months focused on personal development through peer-mentoring and expert facilitation and perspective

BELONGING: form part of a group of wonderful women who are inspirational professionals that meet and connect over the 6months – and beyond

CONNECTING: access to a broader network of She leads Change alumni, participants, coaches and advisors as part of the SLC network

COACHING: A dedicated coach that will support you on your 6month journey

REINFORCING: a detailed pre-read each month with articles, exercises, videos and other learning material that acts to support the formal learning process by offering opportunities to try-out ideas

EXPLORING: a safe space to try out new things (e.g. co-create a session) to test ideas and to share confidences

Although we think you’ll learn and practice core professional skills, this is not a business skill development course. We won’t overtly teach you negotiation or presentation or any discreet business skill. We believe that by having an opportunity to express concerns and try out new ways of being and doing – alongside your growth in self-awareness, courage and confidence – your core business skills will also improve. Given both of these growth areas we expect that your professional capability and ability to effect positive change will improve exponentially…

She-Leads-Change-open-session

 

Understanding Self: Erma Steyn

Most weeks we have an expert ‘beam in’ to our sessions and provide us with food for thought. In the session on self, we asked psychologist and leadership expert Erma Steyn from Possibility Inc to share her thoughts. She left us with great insights! Have a listen…

We’d encourage you to reach out to Erma if what she says resonates with you.  She can be found here.

If you have an area of expertise that is relevant to She Leads Change and you’d like to share, please do get in touch with hello@sheleadschange.org. We currently divide our work into 6 sessions: Vision, Self, Other, Whole, Resilience and Beyond, and welcome any thoughts, speakers, tools/techniques or other contributions.