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Words from the Wise

The topic of women in leadership is one about which I am passionate, and I am fortunate to be able to teach a course on this topic at our CAIS Summer Leadership Institute.  I like to provide participants with a book to take away, and last week I ordered a book entitled Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, edited by Jessica Bacal, in the hopes that it might be an informative one. The book is filled with stories and advice from many wonderful women, and regardless of whether I use it for the course or not, it was interesting and allowed me to reflect on our Clementines and their journeys.

Tomorrow morning we will be welcoming our current Grade 11s and their parents to a Leadership Breakfast and assembly to recognize them as they prepare for their new leadership responsibilities next year. This is an exciting time as it signals the next phase for our girls as they become the senior leaders of the school. Having said that, it can also be a time for mixed emotions because there will be girls who may have had aspirations for a particular role or position that did not come to fruition.

My reading this weekend, and particularly the advice from Rachel Simmons, one of our LINCWell speakers, spoke of the process of learning and life. Simmons tells of her story of achieving great things- awards, academic prowess and eventually a Rhodes scholarship- but, in hindsight, realised that while this was what she thought she wanted, she felt empty. Simmons reminds the reader that “life is not a game that you always need to be winning.”

I often feel that the notion of leadership is misunderstood. Yes, the School has leadership positions that students aspire to and yes, that means that a small number may attain a particular position. However, as in life, leadership is not solely about ‘winning’ a position but how one copes with situations, positive or adverse, how one effects positive change and most importantly how one contributes to enhancing one’s community for the better.

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