According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 208 years to achieve true gender equality in the United States. They published a video with a bunch of comedians that’s both hilarious and not-so-funny.

Are you willing to wait? Are you willing for your daughters and your granddaughters to wait for 208 years to live their lives by design? I have three daughters and I’m not waiting.

Here’s the catch: Leadership is an inside job. It doesn’t start with a title; it starts with a state of mind. Among girls we can banter about what’s not working, but in the workplace we need to rise above the banter. Our example will generate an instinct to lead that is contagious.

A wise man once said if you have leadership straight between your ears, you’ll see the world more clearly. Then Brene Brown came along and challenged us to stop wearing striving as a badge of honor.

When you are at your best, everyone in your life wins. At work, at home, at the PTA. Everyone.

We need to slow down to go faster. How do we reinvent normal? Leadership is not about memorizing competencies. Leadership is about lighting a fire in others through our example.

High on this realization that there has never been a better time in history for women to step into their calling with power and confidence, I was reading in my wine magazine about the character qualities that separate jug wine from the really good stuff. After five years working and taking graduate courses in leadership development, I easily recognized the qualities of a noble wine as the same qualities that make a great human.


Harmony in a wine means all the factors combine like musical notes to produce a pleasing effect. Harmony in my life means that I have the insight and intuition to see how all the different people in my world blend to make a great team…or family.


Symmetry is about similar parts facing each other or around an axis. When we’re talking about human character, this axis is the point of connection between all the facets of human design — spirit, soul, and body. Harmony with others in my world requires symmetry in my life.


Complexity in a wine is what separates jug wine from premium wine, because multiple factors combine to create outstanding quality. Complexity makes life interesting if we’re curious.


Finesse in a wine is about delicacy — the flavors don’t hit you head-on. They are subtle. Leaders with finesse know how to read a room and have the intuition to build influence.


Elegance in the dictionary is “the quality of being pleasingly ingenious and simple.” Think about the concept of the aroma or flavor that lingers after you taste a fine wine. In a leadership context, what kind of flavor lingers when you leave the room?

The wine metaphor creates a fun conversation out of a serious question. Have you ever really examined what inner leadership requires? Have you ever taken the time to explore it?

Originally published on Ellevate.

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  • Donna Carlson

    Women's Leadership & Life Strategy Coach

    360º Life Strategies

    Women comprise 56% of the workforce but so many of us don't ask for what we want. Why is that? After a 30 year career accepting second best, living like a race horse held behind the start gate, Donna Carlson changed her strategy from being a thermometer - reflecting the mores of the world around her - to being a thermostat. Now Donna coaches women to own their personal style and leadership power.