Bridging Lives Notes: July 2019

Making Waves: Playing to Win
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Today I have the rare privilege of publicly celebrating a dear client's big wins. My theme here is the freedom to make waves and win. It’s the upside of the theme from my prior Bridging Lives Notes: freedom to explore and fail. When we risk big, we can fall and/or fly. You surely know the distinction between playing not to lose and playing to win. Here, enjoy the story of one remarkable woman who plays to win and is making big waves as she goes.

Where are you making waves and what wins can you celebrate right now?
I join you in celebrating and am your ally in creating even more.

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Big Wave Champion

We all love a champion. Someone at the top of their game. Someone who – despite all odds – achieves something important. Someone we watch with gob-smacked exhilaration and joy at what is possible. That’s the champion who’s the “winner.” It’s easy to think of such champions in a wide variety of domains.

Who inspires or empowers you to be a bigger, truer, better version of you?

There’s another kind of champion to love, too. It’s the person who sees and becomes a stand for a greater good. A member of Human-Kind, this person summons up the power to shake up the status quo and be a champion for positive change. This person personifies “champion” as a verb, as in championing an initiative, a person, or a cause. They might literally extend a hand in support of you or, by their example, give you or something you care about a leg up.

Where in your life are you benefitting from the generous efforts of a champion?
Where do you need a champion?
Where are you that champion, yourself?

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Playing to Win…Big Wave Equity

Allow me to introduce you to a champion who is both at the top of her game and a champion for a greater good, Bianca Valenti. She’s a championship big-wave surfer and much more. The way I see it, what Megan Rapinoe is to soccer, Bianca Valenti is to surfing. With her permission, I am delighted to share a bit about our work together.

Most recently (July 2019), Bianca won the women’s division of the Puerto Escondido Cup. That’s a big win to celebrate. But the fact that there was a women’s division in this elite competition at all is in no small part due to Bianca’s efforts to champion greater opportunity and pay equity in surfing. For example, last year – together with a few women colleagues and a team of passionate never-say-die allies – their big win was getting the rules changed so that Mavericks (a premier big-wave surfing competition in northern CA – formerly exclusively for men competitors) now must include a women’s division as well as pay equity for women and men competitors. That is widely celebrated as an epic win.

How to build forward on that win for opportunity and pay equity has, however, been anything but self-evident. What does any one individual do in the face of something so big? A next step revealed itself to Bianca as details came together for the next big competition. Largely due to her courageous initiative with a GoFundMe campaign launched at the “11th hour” prior to the competition, the Puerto Escondido Cup made history by being the first elite big-wave surfing competition outside the U.S. to offer pay equity, this time voluntarily (not mandated by law) and setting a new standard for future competitions. Funds raised by her initiative equalized the prize, gave all winners (women and men) a raise, and funded “thank you” gifts for event lifeguards.

All of this was unprecedented.
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There’s a lot to say and celebrate about these wins. What I want to emphasize here is the kind of leader Bianca is choosing to become while she’s co-creating and achieving wins with such a splash in the public spotlight.

Imagine the challenges of being a masterful athlete while also becoming an entrepreneurial leader (e.g. Big Wave Drops) and organizational leader (e.g. Co-Founder of the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing) at the forefront of a bigger movement for equity and equality in the current social and political climate. Imagine sorting out how to “ride” a wave that you’re deliberately building but has dynamics well outside your control, including the undertow of fierce resistance to change. It takes a tremendous capacity to turn challenge into play, with grace and an enduring sense of humor. Showing up as a leader here means tapping into every bit of personal power – the power of commitment and “power within” – while cultivating allies for greater “power with.”

The essence of our work together is to partner such that this champion thrives while riding these formidable waves.

Two major elements are:
  • Cultivating a “power with” approach and
  • Shaping the narrative.
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I refer to “power with” in contrast to the prevalent approach of “power over.” It's a commitment to shaping conversations internally and with others to connect, align, and co-create more effectively (even in the face of difference). Shaping the narrative is a kind of power, too. It reinforces her leadership message and brand. It invites people to be part of something they care about and contribute to building the wave.

Pay equity in sport – or anywhere, for that matter – is a huge, complex nut to crack. Bianca has had the nerve and staying power to be out in front. We're leveraging Bianca's hunger for leading in the "growth zone" as well as the "power within" she sources to take on great challenges. The wave for pay equity is gaining energy; for it to continue building momentum, allies of all kinds need to step up, speak up, and commit to being part of the change.

We’re strategizing, preparing for, and following up on conversations with power. These are conversations for connecting with committed, influential stakeholders and supporters. They are conversations that build trust in and appreciation for what has been set in motion and co-creating what’s next. They are conversations for meeting the fear and exhaustion and somehow reframing problems so that, like water finding its pathway around obstacles, there’s a way forward to feel better about. They are conversations for support in reaching higher and aspiring for what’s more mutually energizing, life-affirming and regenerative. Bianca is growing as a leader in these conversations and all the ways she is practicing to “ride” ever bigger waves of opportunity.

And that’s ultimately the big win we’re celebrating: opportunities that these hard-earned accomplishments are opening for her as well as for the sport and communities she loves.

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Making Waves: Conversations with Power to Co-Create for the Better™

For me it’s such a joy to partner for this purpose and to offer a window for you into one client’s journey. There is, of course, much more to it. But this journey of being and becoming even more of a champion, living with the heart of a champion and taking on new waves is relevant to each of us. In truth, we all have our “next edge,” that zone of discomfort and awe into which we are called to grow.

What inspires you and where do you see yourself in some aspect of Bianca's story?

Let me know what energizes you about "making waves." There's more here for you, too.

You are the Bridge to "Better"
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I'll be delighted to hear from you in response to the notes offered here.

  • Let me know what resonates for you in these notes
  • Ask about ways we can focus on growth where you are.

We can work together from anywhere – whether as an individual or in a group. You are, of course, welcome to meet me in Santa Fe, NM, but the distance between us is easily bridged from wherever you are. Reach out and let’s explore what’s possible together.

Thanks in advance for sharing this Bridging Lives Notes with others. Your referral is by far the best way for people to find me.

For the work that's yours to do, you are the bridge to "better." Thank you for the important work you do and the leader you're becoming while you do it. I'm here as your ally, partnering with you to thrive.

Be in touch...and stay tuned!

P.S. There are links (in red) throughout this and every issue of Bridging Lives Notes. Some are in the text and every image has a link. Follow your curiosity!
Lead. Collaborate. Grow. Thrive!
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