What Do You Do With One Wheel?
Issue 59 — July 30, 2018
On an Amazon Prime day whim, I bought a box of LEGOs on sale and created an exercise using them for the “Your Power Journey” workshop I led last weekend at the Omega Institute.
I sorted the contents of the big yellow box and gave each participant small packets of 15 same or very similar LEGOs. The exercise was simple: I asked them to create an object from the plastic pieces.
My goal was to illustrate playfully how each of us has unique abilities. Not particularly original or profound but since worries about imposter syndrome, lack of confidence, and not being “ready” or “good enough” were presenting problems that had brought many of the women into the room, I intended it to be a framework for each person to identify and value her own special gifts or “points of power.”
The odd wheel becomes the defining characteristic.
In the sorting, I had found there were just enough wheels to give each participant one. I didn’t anticipate that the wheel would become the central organizing factor as many of the women struggled creatively to find a use for that single wheel in their objects.
Some of the women dived right in to make a recognizable object such as a boat with a gangplank in which the wheel became a steering wheel. Others created fanciful constructions that made everyone laugh, like the scooter that traveled on one wheel.
Only one person interpreted the exercise to allow for making multiple objects. And everyone went “Ohhhh!” with insight when she presented it.
One curled up in her chair and said she was exercising her power of choice by politely refusing to play along with what seemed like a meaningless request to her.
Change your mindset, change your view.
Executive coach and consultant May Busch wrote in this article how she grappled with limiting beliefs about her physical strength by first changing her mindset. And indeed, some of the women in describing their objects talked about how they reframed the task in order to be able to complete it in the allotted 10 minutes.
On reflection, I am appreciative that the group trusted me enough to take on what was, in reality, a ridiculous assignment. They definitely proved my point that there is no finite pie of power, or of human ingenuity.
I was surprised though that nobody tried bartering to get a second wheel to make it less ridiculous.
This was only one of the sequences in the “Your Power Journey” workshop that led participants to get beneficial takeaways like these:
Confidence is overrated.
We talked about the value of the lack of confidence so many women express. You’d never get better at anything if you thought you were already perfect.
I was reminded of anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson’s book Creating a Life, in which she said, “The circumstances of women’s lives now and in the past provide examples for new ways of thinking about the lives of both men and women…How does creativity flourish on distraction? What insights arise from the experience of multiplicity and ambiguity? And at what point does desperate improvisation become a significant achievement?”
We plotted our journeys. Our positive and negative defining moments past, because if you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t learn from it, fully embrace the present or release that which will not take you successfully into your intentions for the future you wish to create.
Most importantly, we looked ahead and mapped that future.
By this time, the women were so filled with awareness of their power that they could confidently declare the steps they will take to achieve their boldest intentions.
All in all, it was a wonderful workshop.
I had a blast developing and leading it, and I plan to add it to the repertoire because I saw women gain such valuable insights as they cleared away the blocks holding them back and embraced their intentions for the future.
One of the women summed it up better than I could:
The journey is yours. The course may take many twists. The destination will arrive right on time. Pack accordingly!
P.S. WAMC, the NPR affiliate in Albany, has a wonderful show focused on women’s issues — 51% — they syndicate nationally and you should put them on your list of podcasts to listen to each week. The host Allison Dunn invited me on and we had a great conversation just before I visited Omega.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.” As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative trainingprograms, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The Worldimmersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.