A few months ago my daughter Nicole, introduced me to Mandy who had recently escaped the madness of a professional work-life in New York City to pursue her own dream on West Coast.
I needed someone to help research and write content pieces for our A Million SMART Women Facebook campaign and Mandy has been the bomb! For instance she has unearthed deep background information on Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and connected me to the people who are making a difference in big global companies that have a clue about unleashing the intelligence of women, unfettered by the biases that have limited women’s contributions for thousands of years.
She wrote this piece on the Wonder Woman Effect on young girls that was so illuminating as to where the next generation is heading that I wanted you to read it. So here is Mandy’s take on the what the 8 powers of the Wonder Woman Mindset is doing to your daughters and granddaughters.
Wonder Woman is a summer box office sensation, and everywhere I go—from networking groups to barbecues to yoga classes—people are talking about the doors that it is nudging open for women in film, and for women in general to have our power recognized and celebrated on the big screen.
I have never been particularly drawn to superhero movies, but went to see Wonder Woman in support of a female superhero protagonist who is more than a love interest or a sidekick. I found myself pulled into the film from the start, reveling in the idea that a concept that I teach day in and day out as a life coach—that anything that is not love is a cry for it—could be brought to life in superhero-sized way for a global audience of millions.
When I was young, I had a Wonder Woman action figure that was constantly saving my Barbies from death and destruction. Back then, I believed that I could be Wonder Woman, but as I grew up things changed, perfectionism set in, and now a superhero day is more about checking all of the items off of my to-do list than it is about spreading love and making my mark on the world.
When did we stop believing that we can be superheroes?
Last week a tweet started floating around the internet from Patty Jenkins, the director of the film, which included a photo of a list that was sent to her of adorable things that went on in a kindergarten classroom the week after the new film Wonder Woman was released.
As I read it, I felt a huge smile spread across my face because children of that age have not yet been conditioned by the world. They don’t see limitation, only possibility. Their innocence and their authenticity, combined with an empowering image of a female superhero in whom they can see themselves, resulted in some actions that went beyond sweet and childlike and rang poignant and true, a reminder to all women that we live in an age of burgeoning responsibility and that we have an opportunity to break through walls and ceilings and forge a new path… not just for women, but for the entire world.
Here are a few of the lessons about empowering women to global leadership that we can learn from this classroom of superhero kindergarteners:
Get Buy-In from the Men
“On Monday, a boy who was obsessed with Iron Man, told me he had asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox.”
Empowering women to global leadership doesn’t just depend on women; men play a huge role in supporting, promoting, and participating in the movement to not only embrace women in leadership, but to embrace a new style of leadership. While there may be a subconscious (or even sometimes overt) resistance to this change because of a perceived loss of power, men actually benefit just as much from having female leaders as women do. Because one of the traits that makes women uniquely designed to lead is their emphasis on community. Women naturally are more apt to think of the good of the whole, rather than any one group or principle (like the bottom line, for example). There are a lot of perceptions out there that feminism villainizes men or seeks to suppress them, but one thing that the Wonder Woman movie did a great job of showing is that many women who lead have a genuine focus on making the world better for everyone, without putting men down or disenfranchising them in the process. In order to achieve more women in leadership, we are going to need more men trading in their Iron Man, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Spider-man, etc. lunchboxes to hop on the Wonder Woman train.
Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes
“A little girl said ‘When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana’”
As a bilingual person, I have learned that speaking a second language is much more than just hitting the books (or the Rosetta Stone). The best way to learn is by full immersion, and immersion requires that you not only understand the grammar rules, but cultural context as well. It requires that you get uncomfortable. That you step out of your box and take a glance at the world from another perspective. In the workplace and the world in general, many of us don’t ever bother to fully hear out other points of view. We either champion our position, or we silence our voices and do what we are told. But how might our workplace and our understanding of others change if we actually took the time to hear one another out and understand other perspectives? If we brought many viewpoints together to reach a consensus? Learning languages is fantastic, but we still have a long way to go to learn to really hear one another in our own language.
Don’t Let Time be an Excuse to not Take Action
“This girl had her parents revamp her Beauty and the Beast birthday party in THREE DAYS because she simply had to have a Wonder Woman party.”
As a life coach, too often I see people limit themselves because of a universal scarcity complex: there is never enough time, there is never enough money. But time and money are manmade concepts, and somehow we have created them as things that work against us, not for us. In the film, Diana did not understand Steve’s watch or his attachment to time, she just acted based on her instincts and did not let anyone’s observations that time was running out or that it was too late to stop her from taking action toward her mission. Creating enough time is a matter of priorities. This little girl reminds us that when you really desire something, there is always a way to make it happen. What would you do if time and money were no object?
Don’t Fight for Just Yourself, Fight for Us All
“Seven girls playing together during recess on Tuesday, saying that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman they had agreed to be Amazons and not fight but work together to defeat evil.”
While we all may want to put on our capes and fly solo to save the world from time to time, sometimes working in a team can be even more powerful. One of a woman’s innate leadership skills is making connections and bringing together communities with diverse interests to work toward a common goal. Behind Diana’s success in the film was a whole tribe of women training her, nourishing her, teaching her, and lifting her up. Just like these kindergarteners, instead of walking over one another in the workplace to achieve our individual goals, we can advance the interests of all women by working together and lifting one another up.
Don’t Get Mad, Get Respect
What might change if we did not settle for less than the respect that we deserve in the world? In the workplace? Last year when I was in the market to lease a new vehicle, the head salesperson at the car dealership where I was shopping continually referred to me as “sweetheart” and praised me for my credit score, adding that my “father must be so proud.” I tolerated it because I had already spent 5+ hours at the dealership and I was eager to get into my new car and drive it home, but in hindsight I know that I could have used my voice to demand respect for myself and for the women who would come in after me, and taken my business elsewhere. In the workplace it can be even harder to stand up and ask for the respect we deserve because of fears about losing our jobs. But like this kindergartener, we can establish our non-negotiables from the get-go and set the tone for how others treat us.
Dare to be Different
“Another girl very seriously asked the teacher if she could ditch her uniform for the Wonder Woman armor bc she ‘wanted to be ready if she needed to save the world.’ The teacher laughed and said it was okay, and the next day the girl came dressed as Wonder Woman and not a single kid batted an eye.”
So many of our schools, workplaces, and social structures are built on uniformity. Even socially we try so hard to fit in that we often lose our uniqueness in the process and at the end of the day we might achieve our goal of fitting in, but we don’t achieve the feeling of belonging that we are seeking. The only way to find belonging is to be authentically yourself. I love that the other kindergarteners in this example didn’t bat an eye at this girl’s choice of attire… because they accepted her for her authentic expression of who she was. Even if you work at a place with a dress code, what can you do to express yourself more in your appearance? Rather than worrying about fitting in in the boardroom, dare to stand out. You will be more memorable and it may just advance your interests as a result.
Find What Feels Good
“They are making a wrap-up dance show, and they asked the teacher if they could come as superheroes, they are going to sing a song about bunnies.”
I have 2 or 3 shades of lipstick that I absolutely love, but I used to only wear them on date nights or special occasions. Even though I get an instant confidence boost when I put them on and feel great wearing them, I told myself that they were too bright for everyday wear. These kindergarteners are proving the lesson that I learned, which is when you feel your best, you perform your best. When I show up in my bright lipstick I feel great, I am more present, more confident and more efficient in my work. Who cares if it is untraditional to wear red lipstick when you work from home or to wear a superhero costume to sing about bunnies? What matters is that you feel good so that you can give the best of yourself.
Live In Harmony with the Planet, Not Just Taking From It
“A boy threw his candy wrapping in the floor and a 5-year-old girl screamed ‘DON’T POLLUTE YOU IDIOT, THAT IS WHY THERE ARE NO MEN IN T[H]EMYSCIRA’”
I certainly know a lot of men who care about our planet and who take inspired action to clean it up, preserve it, and care for it. But I also know that the male-dominated leadership of the world that we live in has dropped the ball on taking care of Mother Earth. Profit over Planet; that seems to be the universal law. But I can’t help but dream of a world where women hold the majority of leadership roles, where jobs are created and profits sky-rocket in a green economy. Where our planet thrives like the lush paradise of Themyscira because we live and work with it, acting as though we are part of nature and one with nature, and not just taking from nature, flexing our muscles and taking what we desire.
I can’t say how realistic that vision is, but children like these and films like Wonder Woman keep my hopes high that the future will take us in another direction. If we all adopt the minds of children—open, visionary, authentic, and without limitation—we can create a world where they can grow up knowing that there is limitless possibility. Not just for men or for women, but for everyone.
To see the original tweet and a list of the kindergarten sayings, check out this article from the Hollywood Reporter.
Mandy Sciacchitano is a Diet Freedom and Self Love Coach and Copyeditor for A Million Smart Women
I believe in Wonder Woman. The key is she grew up in a very empowering environment. Today parents and teachers are much more open and adamant that girls have unlimited potential to contribute their gifts in any way that inspires them. We are literally igniting half the talent of our planet in a way that has never happened before. I am grateful to be part of a growing army of men who are wildly supportive of the Wonder Woman impact.Please join us on A Million SMART Woman and get your daily diet of inspiration, research, community, and examples real-life wonder women.