Brand building through storytelling

Scrambling for the back seat

I should have known better than to pay $5.50 plus tax for a copy of Newsweek. But I wanted to read the cover story on women and power. I was looking for the promised “lessons from the front,” the counter-intuitive discoveries that women leaders credit with blowing the doors in their heads wide open. I’m always on the lookout for a little inspiration.

Mostly, the story was a yawn. Scientists, CEOs and cutting-edge thinkers aren’t sharing their transformations with Newsweek. But I liked the refreshing honesty of Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who didn’t seek high office until her 50s.

Shirley FranklinFranklin had been comfortable on the fringes of political life. “I scrambled for the hinterlands,” she told Newsweek. “I scrambled for the back seat. I wasn’t comfortable enough….My fears of failure, my fears of not being perfect, kept me from thinking that I could run for mayor.”

What an admission. Would a man say such a thing? Do you think George Bush ever worried that he’d better not run for president because he might be dangerously inept? But let’s get back to Franklin. Something had to awaken her inner leader. Reading between the lines of the story, I sense that she knew she was a leader because younger women were following. “At some point I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You cannot give another graduation or baccalaureate speech, or another pep talk to a young woman that she has no boundaries and no limits if you in fact are limiting yourself by your fear.”

She wouldn’t run for the thrill of being mayor, but she had to run in order to live authentically. How interesting. And how characteristically female?for now, anyway. I too used to scramble for the back seat. It was other people (mostly women) who pushed me to go for a place at the front.

I like to think that younger women will tap their own courage earlier than my generation did, while still being true to themselves. But we’ll see.

Posted by Rona

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