Sistering

Okay, so, admittedly, I am not close friends with Glennon (Doyle.) I do not drink tea with Brene’ (Brown.) I’ve never shared a field with Abby (Wambach.) walked the block with Bell (Hooks,) played Pass the Pig with Oprah (Winfrey), or laughed out loud with Liz (Gilbert.) Yeah, sure I know some of them: Glennon amazingly endorsed my upcoming book—thank you @glennondoyle; I’m on Brene’s Dare to Lead™ team and after a session with her chatted about my cool boots and the work we would do together—thank you @brenebrown; Abby listened to my book read aloud by Glennon and Honey—I LOVED Wolfpack @abbywambach.) But really, I’m a superfan only—they do not know me from dust, although I sometimes fantasize that they feel me out here.

These women are hugely famous and wicked popular today and each is changing the world in their own way with their writing, research, and stories.  While I am a follower and a little close in to some, the fact is, none of these women are really friends (yet! ☺) nor would any of them call me when they need their inner circle of support.

And yet, I feel a powerful kinship to them and despite the fact that I know social media merely seduces us that it provides real connection, I can’t help but notice the impact these distant and influential women each have on me.

It’s a funny feeling, and one that feels totally like the rush I got after watching the 2017 movie, Wonder Woman, with Gal Godot about her discovery of her special powers. It was watching a female superhero at age 55 that touched my heart. Finally. It is hard to explain, but the feeling is profound. It is “Yes indeed, woman, we’ve got this. The time is now. Enough of the old rules and structures defined by others.  The world needs us and we’ve can and will rise. Go. Do. Listen. Feel. Say it.” This fuel, born in passive movie watching and social media following, amazingly adds air to the fire that already exists within me as I strive to make a difference in my own narrower spheres of influence.

Listening to Krista Tippet interview Glennon and Abby on her awesome podcast (which I dream of being on one day, On Being,) I was reminded of the term that captures this feeling: Sistering. Glennon mentioned it on the podcast, and her words inspired me to get my brave on and ask her to read Bravespace Workplace, which she did (aloud to Abby and their dog Honey, no less!) And she loved it and agreed to tell the world that with an endorsement. What? Thanks, Glennon.

So, here’s the thing, I had heard the word “sistering” before.  My Dad was an architect and he told me once that there is a term in architecture called sistering which is a “beam or other structural member affixed to another as supplementary support,” according to The Free Dictionary. Glennon talked about this as a powerful metaphor what women do for each other, a definition more like “a girl or woman who shares a common ancestry, allegiance, character, or purpose with another.”

Where am I going with this? Here’s the thing. I work in a male dominated business. Of the 50 top leadership guru’s named by INC. magazine, 4 are women: Rosabeth Moss Kanter #17, Gretchen Rubin #44, Susan Cain #46, Liz Strauss #49. The vast majority of thought leaders in the space in which I roam are men, and in fact, many of them are men I admire. A number of these men have been supporters, allies, and colleagues. Guru status men like Peter Block, Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and Marshall Goldsmith/Dan Pink (thank you both for endorsing my books), I have been honored to work with amazing men in my field who make a difference in the systems in which we work.

But still, when you add up how many of my clients are men (yes, I work mostly with the C Suite—still largely men), it makes sense that I have imprinted off of them, copied them, and wondered if there was room in their atmosphere for a woman like me, doing what I say and do in organizations large and small for way more than 10,000 hours. It’s like the men in my business have been the North Star that I’ve navigated around without even seeing a different solar system. I have been very late in the game to even consider the possibility that there are women out there, changing things, who can and do and will actually support me straight up if I only ask. And today at the ripe old age if 57, I am noticing that many young women at work out there are actually looking for and seeking women like me upon whom they can hope and ask for sponsorship and support.  For this, I am in.

Like everyone, I sometimes get insecure and fall prey to comparison.

“She is smarter than me.”

“Wow, how amazing it would be to have that many followers!”

“If only I could afford to be that selective with the clients I take.”

“I started too late.”

“I am not good enough.”

“Why do I bother to do this writing and publishing—it is so hard to be seen.”

But then I remember Wonder Woman, and my Wonder Women.  The crew who sit right there close to me day-in and day-out as well as the ones who sit at a distance, carrying the water of breaking down stereotypes, speaking trust, challenging systems, and doing business in new ways.  These women include two groups: the close-in women (my thousands of miles running partner Sandy; my longest friend in the world, Jen; my ever faithful Mom; my awesome colleague Mei; and first call always Ann; my tender smart daughter Hannah; my sister Jamie; my co-author Cammie; and a few precious others) PLUS the ones in the distant constellation like Brene’ and Glennon and others (whom I watch and cheer on and sometimes envy when I am tired and hesitant and scared shitless.)  They all add up to being joists that come alongside and hold me up in the work I do Every. Single. Day.

SISTERING.

I know in my bones that the work I am called to do with clients in businesses of all types matters and at this point, I can call it “my life’s work,” which feels both a delightful surprise and the strangest good fortune. And the things I do in my life (as a real sister, daughter, mother, friend, boss) can be hard and times gut-wrenching and at other times truly joy fueled.

I am simply Moe, and the women who sister me near and far matter now more than ever.  Yes, men out there whom I cherish, thank you, too. But women, I have sometimes taken you for granted but have never not noticed all you do, can do, will do, and have done.

Thank you. Keep doing you and feel me at your back. And I will keep doing me with your tireless support.