Friday, November 11

The Empowering of Women Leaders in the Middle East

All of the elements of Connective Change that I teach and write about are evident among the women leaders I am working with here in Amman. Although they come from a wide variety of cultures in the Middle East and North Africa, they share a passion for creating opportunities to increase women's economic opportunities throughout the region. They have formed a region-wide businesswomen's network to build the next generation of women business leaders and entrepreneurs.

Thomas Friedman's latest book, That Used to Be Us, is an astute analysis of how the United States has fallen from its admired position in the world, and why today's youth--for the first time in our nation's history-- cannot expect a higher standard of living or longer lifespan than their parents. Sometimes I think I can feel the resignation to this decline among neighbors, colleagues, and clients. This sense in America that the good life is unfairly and unfailingly eluding us seems particularly noticeable to me today. The first reason is that it's Veteran's Day and I have been reflecting on my mom's service as a WAC during WWII, as well as the values that she and others in her "greatest generation" imbued in us, their children.

The second reason this sense of pessimism about America's future is on my mind today is that there is such a different feeling here in the Middle East, especially among the women leaders with whom I am working. They are full of hope, vision, enthusiasm, courage, creativity, anticipation, and a deep belief that anything is possible. Their view could be summarized as That's Going to Be Us, because they have a shared vision, seem to have found their own voices, and are set on participating fully and authentically in the economic, political, and social changes that are reshaping this region.

These leaders are not trying to mimic the US, or anyone else. Their approach, forged from their own histories and cultures, is truly connective--dedicated to being inclusive, transparent, ethical, entrepreneurial, and constructive. As these women leaders grow their regional network, the positive impact of their work will cascade throughout their families, communities and the entire region. I look forward to witnessing the results they create together.

Wednesday, November 9

Women Leading Connective Change in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) Region

Being back in Jordan to continue work with the MENA Businesswomen's Network, I am in awe of the intelligence and tenacity of these women. Business leaders and entrepreneurs from 10 countries, they are dedicated to helping more women become business leaders and entrepreneurs, contributing substantially to the economic vibrancy of their communities and the entire region.
As I am in the process of writing a book about Connective Change--choices that link people to one another in pursuit of shared, positive goals--it is so affirming to witness Connective Change as the natural style among these amazing women. With so many obstacles to overcome, they doggedly focus on the positive and the good--what CAN be done if they remain clever, collaborative and creative. It is a gift to be in their presence and drink in their enthusiasm for what is possible as well as their celebration of what has already been achieved.
Thank you, Vital Voices, for providing me the opportunity to share with and learn from these diverse and determined women. I was asked at lunch what makes me happy. Without hesitation, I replied that feeling relevant makes me happy. And being here, coaching these leaders, without a doubt makes me feel both useful and happy.