It’s been a while since I’ve teared up at a non-fiction book, but I definitely full on cried with this one. Melinda Gates writes an incredibly poignant and heartfelt book about how empowering women changes the world in The Moment of Lift. Ironically, I read most of this book on a plane so when she talked about the moment of lift being the moment when the forces pulling up overpower the forces of gravity pulling us down, I felt it in the movement and takeoff of the plane in real time. Because so many of her examples felt so real to me after travelling the world for work myself, I wanted to share with you some of my takeaways from this great read.
Real Talk = Real Lift
In the book, Melinda writes that seven years ago when she went to India, she visited women’s self help groups. “And I saw that it all begins when women start talking to each other.” This really resonated with me as it’s a large part of the reason I started Invincible Sparkle. After one of my speaking events, so many women told me that they had felt the same way I had in their careers, but that no one ever talked about it so they felt alone. They didn’t know it was ok to be scared or that others struggled with the same things they had. “When women get information, tools, funding, and a sense of our power, women lift off and take the group where they want it to go.” The more we are willing to be real with each other, support one another in every way, the more lift will happen.
Best Self vs. Polished Self
Especially with the portrayals of career women in magazines and media, there is such pressure to be this polished professional. I always wanted to be Andy on Devil Wears Prada after she changes her look, who doesn’t? But it’s important to be approachable, real and authentic to allow others to bring their authentic self to work too. I had an amazing mentor who helped me realize this. I remember she called me into her office and told me that I needed to soften my emails. Start with something like “hope you’re having a great day” or something personable. Things like emails have emotion read into them, even when the emotion wasn’t written into them. I took that advice a step further. It’s important to soften everything to create an approachable environment as a leader.
Melinda Gates talks about this in Moment of Lift. She had an interview where they asked her to reply to a piece of feedback from an employee saying she was like “Mary F@$*ing Poppins – practically perfect in every way!” She replied for the interview, but in reflection she writes “Maybe my best self is not my polished self. Maybe my best self is when I’m open enough to say more about my doubts or anxieties, admit my mistakes, confess when I’m feeling down. Then people can feel more comfortable with their own mess and that’s an easier culture to live in.” This passage resonated with me so much. Authentic leadership can be such a powerful agent for change in how we interact and how we lift one another up.
Change the Story, Change Your Life
One of my favorite lines in this book is “when women gather with one another, include one another, tell our stories to one another, share our grief with one another, we find our voice with one another. We create a new culture – not one that was imposed upon us, but one we build with our own voices and values.” Stories have exceptional power. When we share our stories, our fears, dreams, grief and beliefs, we connect. Connection is one of the most powerful forces I have found in all my travels.
No matter what country, what language, what timezone, people want to connect. We are wired to find what makes us like one another. When we tell our stories and find connection and common ground, we are able to inspire change and create that new culture Melinda describes. In her personal chapter, she describes how uncomfortable sharing her own story was. But she decided to keep all of her stories in the book because she believes “women gain equality […] by changing the culture, and we can change the culture by sharing our stories.” Stories allow us to connect, find common ground and common struggles that we might be able to overcome by a culture change.
Gender Equality & Diversity
In the book, Melinda says “Gender diversity is not just good for women; it’s good for anyone who wants results.” In the workplace in any country, this is incredibly true as it brings different perspectives, experiences and solutions to the table.
But it’s important to have just as much equality in life as well. I came from a family where my mother always had her own career and my father shared just as many of the chores and duties around the house. So when I went into the work world and my marriage, I had the same ideas of splitting duties at home and having a seat at the table at work. The more we teach our kids about gender diversity and equality, the more society will realize that diversity and equality.
Through the stories of the women she’s met and her own personal story, Melinda Gates paints a compelling picture of the struggles that exist and how we can solve these struggles with communication, empathy and raising up women around the world. I would definitely recommend this book, but bring a tissue for these raw and honest stories.
A professional, speaker, coach, leader, corporate director, wife, boxer, dancer and cat mom. I'm here to be your best friend voice with a plan, helping you achieve your goals and reach your potential.
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