One of my former female employees sent me a missive the other day thanking me for creating the kind of culture at my very small business, but very large community, that prizes the strengths and encourages the personal growth of women. It was very kind of her to take the time to write. She went on to say that the leadership lessons she learned as a guide have been invaluable in her work in the corporate world, or what we, in the seasonal outdoor industry, like to call the ‘real world’.
Or, “The Land of Shoes”.
She believes, as I believe, that guiding equips you to deal with uncertainty, confront your fears, trains you to focus both long range and short and boosts your confidence daily or provides you with a much-needed glimpse at your fallibility.
In reference to the occasional mishaps that can happen while rafting a whitewater river, river runners, of course, have a saying:
There are those who have, those who will and those that will again.
In other words, guiding rivers, oddly enough, keeps you grounded. You are reminded often that you are only one missed stroke from completely different outcomes.
Since river guiding - at least in my state - is not a career option, she sees it as an opportunity for young women to transition toward a more stable form of occupation utilizing skills they learned while on the river. For selfish reasons, she’d like to witness a cultural transformation in her corner of The Land of Shoes.
I saw this pop up on her Twitter feed yesterday:
To the women who are labeled…
Aggressive: Keep being assertive.
Bossy: Keep on leading.
Difficult: Keep telling the truth.
To that, I say, “Amen.”
Women need a seat at the table. The world - as it exists today - absolutely demands a woman’s touch, a woman’s intuition, a woman’s insight and a woman’s ability to walk in someone else’s shoes.
I heard that of all the major professional sports organizations, the WNBA, steered and run by women were the first to come up with a failsafe solution on how to play professional basketball during the time of a pandemic.
I heard that of all the governments around the world, women leaders make up 7%, yet of the nations doing best against the ravages of this virus, the majority are headed by women.
I heard the Black female mayor of San Francisco acted more quickly and decisively than her male counterparts in the governor of California and the mayor of Los Angeles and, as a result, got a much better handle on the situation. Apparently, even acting a week earlier made an enormous difference.
There is a line in the musical Hamilton, which is repeated more than once, that goes, “Immigrants. . . we get things done.”
The same can be said for women.
It is not lost on me, however, that Germany, Australia, Israel, India and England have only had one female leader throughout their storied histories, and, of course, the good ol’ US of A has yet to elect a woman for president. A woman has not even be elected to the role of Vice President. For the white male supremacists who walk amongst us, the vice presidency is too close to the throne.
A woman’s skillset is exactly what we are lacking in a world beset by calamities of all kinds.
Men tend to take too many risks, want to use a hammer for every problem, fail to listen as likely as not and rarely get past comparing dick sizes.
Because of those same reasons, as a small businessman outfitting rafting trips, I prefer training and hiring female river guides. I find females take safety on the river seriously from the first day they are hired. Females can puzzle through complex scenarios and shuttle logistics far better than the average male. What they may lack in strength and bravado, they make up in team work and staying on task. What they may lack in cocksure confidence, they make up in keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind - customer service, safety and satisfaction.
A healthy mix is the ideal but I have noticed you need enough women to temper the wilder instincts and natural tendencies of males who can easily lose sight of the ‘big picture’ from time to time.
I am willing to wager a woman leader would seek to turn the table on the “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor” argument.
I am willing to wager a woman leader could more readily see the full range of choices on the capitalism/socialism continuum.
I am willing to wager a woman leader would not play with the lives of its citizenry as if they were pawns in a game of chess.
I am willing to wager a woman leader would be more willing to collaborate with other world leaders in the search for solutions to the current pandemic, future pandemics, alternative fuel sources and climate change.
I know a woman leader would not be the “silver bullet” to solve all of America’s ills. But I am confident a female in the leadership role, someone like Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, or Kamala Harris, would provide the sort of role model we are sorely lacking. The sort of social influencer desperately needed as the head of a country that heavily influences the politics and economy of the world.
Because, if we have learned nothing else over the past four years that has felt like fifty, women are ready to lead.
And get shit done.