Power Tool #4: Embrace Controversy

Controversy. Does it make you run for the hills, or charge into the fray?

Watch the video and find out what feminist activists Jodie Evans, Gloria Steinem, and Shelby Knox have to say about their relationships with controversy.

Controversy gives you a platform, and it also give you an opportunity to define your values. Controversy can nudge you towards clarity. And it can also become a source of strength. What are ways that you have embraced controversy in your life in order to make a positive change?

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Do You Value Yourself?

Nicole Baute from The Star asked me to share some of the central messages of No Excuses when she interviewed me last week. I posted part of the interview Tuesday on the 9 Ways Blog. Here is another excerpt from that interview.

One of the things in the book that struck me was the stat that women are four times less likely to ask for a raise. Why?

I don’t think we always value our worth as much as men value their worth. Men are pretty ruthless about valuing their worth, they’re not at all timid about it. In fact, they tend to overstate their worth. Women understate their worth.

Why do women isolate themselves and try to fix things on their own?

We’re working in a workplace culture that was designed by men for men, who could work day and night because they had a woman at home taking care of the house and the kids. And that paradigm no longer works for anybody, I don’t think. So as women have entered that workplace culture, if you’re the first one, if you’re the only one in a department, you tend to try to fit yourself into the predominant culture.

That’s exactly why we need to consciously un-isolate ourselves and reach out with what I call Sister Courage. Ask another woman for help if you need it. Ask a man for help if you need it. Offer help if you think someone else needs it.

Do you think that competition — women competing with each other and women competing with men — is a barrier to asking for help?

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Founder of EmpowHER Uses What She’s Got to Make a Difference

One of the inspiring women I profiled in No Excuses is Michelle King Robson. She’s the Founder, Chairperson and CEO of EmpowHER, one of the fastest-growing and largest health media companies dedicated exclusively to women’s health and wellness.

Michelle’s story is especially powerful, because she used adversity–her illness–as a tool that fired her passion to begin advocating for other women. Earlier in the week, we talked about using what you’ve got to make a difference. When you hear Michelle’s story, can you think of a way of turning a potentially negative situation into powerful action?

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It’s Time for Women to Step Up

Nicole Baute from The Star asked me to share some of the central messages of No Excuses when she interviewed me last week. Here is an excerpt from that interview.

You called your book No Excuses. Do you think that women are coming up with excuses for why we aren’t getting a little more power and a little more pay?

The honest truth is that my title was Unlimited and the publishers made me change it. They wanted something more controversial. I tend to take the positive approach. I think this is the moment for women, but I did want to sound a clarion call to women to say, this is a moment, but you have to take it. Things won’t just happen.

Why would you have preferred Unlimited?

Because I am hopeful, I am optimistic and I believe that this is just an incredible time for women.

Why is now an incredible time?

Well, the rest of the world knows it. I’m not sure we always do. For example, the World Bank has done studies that found that Parliaments that have 30 or 40 per cent women on them make better decisions, they have less corruption, the performance is better. Marketers know that women buy 85 per cent of the goods.

That old thinking, why is it still persisting?

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Power Tool #3: Use What You’ve Got

In No Excuses, I share this dream I had one night. I was in my out of control speeding car, and I couldn’t stop it. I slowly realized the keys to the car were in my hand, and they had been all along.

You don’t have to sit in the shrink’s office to figure out the metaphor in that dream! Have you ever had a similar experience?

To be able to use power, the first thing you’ve got to do is realize that you have it. I’ve found in personal life and in meeting challenges at work that what you need is usually there if you can only see it and have the courage to use it.

Here are just a few examples women shared with me about how to use what you’ve got:

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Will No Excuses Be in Oprah’s Book Club?




Jane Fonda says No Excuses is a book that can change your life, and she gave a copy to Oprah.

What next? Who can help me close the deal and appear on Oprah’s show?

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Free Copies of No Excuses From Progressive Book Club

I am pleased to announce that I’ll be a guest on Book Talk Radio, Wednesday, October 27, at 8pm EST. I hope you’ll join me for the live on-line conversation about No Excuses with Salon.com‘s Joe Conason. RSVP to join the discussion.

Book Talk Radio will email registrants with the tune-in information prior to the event.

This special Book Talk Radio discussion is brought to you by our friends at Progressive Book Club. We hope you can join us!

If you have not yet joined Progressive Book Club, please do so now and get a free copy of No Excuses.

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What Does Power-To Look Like?

On Monday I asked you when you first realized that you had the power to . . . And I gave you a brief glimpse at my definition of what power-to looks like. Here’s another look at what power-to means:

Power-over focuses on tactics for gaining compliance, while leadership focuses on getting answers and solutions in order to be able to accomplish something for mutual good.

Power-over makes people feel powerless. Even if it isn’t force or brute power, but a manipulative power such as political dominance, the feeling that one has no control over one’s choices makes her disgruntled, angry, or passive-aggressive.

Power-to makes us feel powerfull.

Power-to supports and enhances whatever power the individual brings to a project, workplace, relationship, or civic activity. It abhors coercion. It opens up the possibility of choices; the ability to choose is what makes us human. Choosing is the basis of morality.

Power-over is amoral. Power-to is responsibility.

Power-over is oppression. Power-to is leadership.

What are your thoughts about this definition? How does it change your ideas about power and leadership? Can you give examples of the use of either definitioneof power?

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Was There a Moment When You Knew You Had the Power To?

Most high school debaters can tell you that the first person to set the terms of the debate usually wins. That’s because when we allow someone else to define the terms, we allow them to set the framework that constructs our thoughts. Just think about how power has typically been defined, as an oppressive power-over model. If we shift the definition of power to a power-to model, suddenly the discussion is about leadership, and the ability to get things done. As I say in No Excuses.

Almost anyone can employ power-over, but it takes skill to employ power-to. It takes a skill to lead others rather than to force, requires, coerce, or lord over them. Leadership power is much different from the use of force to gain acceptance of a goal.

Watch feminst icon Gloria Steinem, CODEPINK founder Jodie Evans, young feminist leader Shelby Knox, El Diario/La Prensa editor-in-chief Erica Gonzalez, and others talking about their power-to moments, both personal and interpersonal.

Was there a moment when you knew that you had the power to . . .(you fill in the blank)? What was it? And how did you feel? What did you do? If you didn’t have one moment, was there a process that led you to that awareness? What can you share with other women that might help them on their journey?

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When Did You First Know You Had Power?

Do keep on posting those wonderful stories of women in history who deserve greater recognition than they get.

Today, I also have an extra question to ask. I’m delivering the keynote address at an event that recognizes two very important women in history: Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I’ll be at the University of Rochester’s Stanton/Anthony Conversations, speaking on “How Women Use Power: Transforming Leadership.”

My question is: Was there a moment when you knew you had the power to….(you fill in the blank)? If so, what was it? If not, was there some other process that occurred to give you a sense of your own power to…(your words here)?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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