Why Leaders Need to Embrace Disruption in Life and Language
I was hiking in the Arizona desert on a spectacular late-January day in 2020. The sun glistened over the mountain trail, and as I snapped photos of the vistas that seemed to stretch forever, a feeling of wellbeing and gratitude came over me.
The book I’d been working on for over a year, Intentioning, was coming together. The name made me smile because I had disrupted the language, to turn the concept of intention into an active verb. I had finished interviewing over a dozen “intentional women” leaders and was ready to begin massaging their lessons into each chapter.
Things were also lining up well for Take The Lead’s Power Up Conference slated for February 28-29. Life was good.
Then, boom! I tripped over a small rock. Instinctively I put my hand out to catch myself. I heard the snap and felt the searing pain. I knew I had broken my wrist.
And just like that, my plans for the next weeks and months were completely disrupted.
There was a trip to the emergency room, surgery, two casts, and figuring out how to stay on track for the conference. No amount of my positive intentioning could prevent the need for pivots in order to heal my arm and still accomplish my goals.
Little did I know that my personal disruption would be minor as one week after the conference, the COVID-19 pandemic sent the planet into lockdown.
Life as we knew it has not returned and likely never will. I say that is good. Or rather, we can make it a good thing by intentioning a better world and workplace.
Women left the workforce or altered their work situation at a rate that pundits claimed set progress toward equality back 10 years or more. While the latest job reports find that women are finally coming back into the workforce, now in greater numbers than men, the social fabric has been disrupted profoundly. People don’t want to return full time in person. Women and many men are rethinking their careers in order to work for companies that are more family friendly. Women are starting their own businesses at the highest rate ever, often to create the culture and freedom they want.
The value of disruption is that we are forced to think differently, to innovate, and to recalculate what really matters to us.
I knew for example that I had to expand the book to include an analysis of how different people react to massive disruption. I wanted to include intersectionality, and show how racism and sexism are joined at the head. Racial justice and what does or doesn’t work in the DEI field became as salient as gender justice because you can’t have one without the other.
When the word you want doesn’t exist, create it.
I had made up the word “intentioning” to help women clarify and achieve their highest intentions. The rewards—the pay, position, and recognition they so justly deserve. And in the end, the disruptions around us made it so much more relevant.
During this time, we must not squander anyone’s talents. Too much hangs in the balance. Women must be at the forefront of reimagining and reconstructing a vibrant and sustainable future for us all.
As one of my mentors used to say, “In times like these, it’s good to remember there are always times like these.” If we can embrace the disruptions and see the positive opportunities they present, we will be intentioning progress for all.
Gloria Feldt, Cofounder and President of Take The Lead; Author of Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics and How Women Will Take the Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. @GloriaFeldt
P.S. I’ve turned the book Intentioning into a 13-week mastermind that I’ll teach live online starting March 23. I’m more than a little nervous about that. Actually I’m terrified because I’ve never taught mastermind that way. Nor have I taken one.
But since I disrupted the language by creating the word Intentioning, I gave myself permission to create a new format to disrupt the boring online course model. And that is super exciting.
Because I so value you, the smart, ambitious, Intentioning Women & Worth, I’ve created an exclusive 33 percent discount ONLY for you. If this interests you, go here to get all the details and (I am intentioning) register.