Thursday, May 10, 2012

Stepping  Out  On  Faith|  Bonnie  St.  John

  Welcome  to  Pearl  GirlsTM  Mother  of  Pearl  Mother's  Day  blog  series  -­‐  a  week  long   celebration  of  moms  and  mothering.  Each  day  will  feature  a  new  post  by  some  of   today's  best  writer's  (Tricia  Goyer,  Sheila  Walsh,  Suzanne  Woods  Fisher,  Bonnie  St.   John,  and  more).  I  hope  you'll  join  us  each  day  for  another  unique  perspective  on   Mother's  Day.
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  Stepping  Out  on  Faith  by  Bonnie  St.  John
  "Darcy  .  .  .”
  “Yeah,  Mom?”
  I  momentarily  held  the  undivided  attention  of  my  teenage  daughter.  Her  thumbs,   free  of  their  ubiquitous  texting  keypad,  quietly  dangled  by  her  side.  Her  computer   and  its  omnipresent  Facebook  page  were  completely  out  of  sight.  I  had  almost   forgotten  what  she  looked  like  without  all  these  adolescent  accoutrements.  As  we   sat  down  together  on  the  burgundy  leather  sofa  in  our  living  room,  I  realized  this   fleeting  state  of  electronic  dislocation  was  my  chance  to  hatch  a  plan  I  had  been   formu-­‐  lating  for  the  past  several  weeks.  Carpe  diem.
  “How  would  you  like  to  write  a  book  together?”
  “About  what?”  I  asked  my  mom.  Write  a  book?  This  was  a  real  surprise.  I  felt  a  bit   suspicious,  but  still  curious.   I  love  to  write,  and  Mom  kept  telling  me  I  was   really  good  at  it.  I  like  writing  poetry,  fantasy,  and  sci-­‐fi,  though.   The  books   Mom  wrote  were  all  nonfiction.   I  wondered  what  we  could  possibly  do   together.
  “Well  .  .  .”  I  hesitated.  If  I  wanted  her  to  commit  to  any  extra  work  out-­‐  side  her  busy   schedule  at  school—not  to  mention  work  alongside  her  mother—I  had  to  make  this   really  great.  “It  would  be  about  women  as leaders,”  I  continued,  “a  mother-­‐ daughter  investigation  into  leadership  styles  and  structures.”
  “Leadership?”  I  blurted.  It  came  out  as  if  I  had  a  bad  taste  in  my  mouth—which  I  did.    I  couldn’t  imagine  a  more  boring  topic  to  write  about.  What  is  there  to  say   about  leadership  anyway?  When  you’re  in  charge,  you  just  get  things  done,  right?   Who  wants  to  talk  about  that?
  Her  furrowed  brow  told  me  I  was  losing  her  fast.  “Um  .  .  .  we  could  find  women   leaders  all  around  the  world!”  I  said  impulsively,  frantically  casting  the  ultimate   bait.
  “Really?  Would  we  get  to  travel  a  lot?”   I  hadn’t  thought  about  that.  Heck,  I’d   write  about  the  mating  habits  of  tsetse  flies   if  I  got  to  go  to  Africa  to  do  it!
  But  this  project  wasn’t  just  about  the  influence  it  would  have  on  Darcy.  I  wanted  to   do  something  that  could  have  a  potent  impact  on  an  alarming  trend  I  had  witnessed   in  workplaces  across  the  country:  far  too  many  women  appeared  to  be  making  a   choice  not  to  apply  for  top  leadership  positions  when  presented  with  the   opportunities  to  do  so.
  This  project,  then,  was  a  bit  of  a  Trojan  horse.  On  the  one  hand,  the  saga  of  a  mother-­‐ daughter  journey  could  seduce  female  readers,  who  might  never  bother  to  read  the   Harvard  Business  School  dissertations  on  the  subject,  into  a  meaningful   conversation  about  leadership.  At  the  same  time,  if  Darcy  met  a  series  of  brilliant,   accomplished  women—  people  even  a  cynical  teen  would  be  in  awe  of—perhaps   they  could  tell  her  all  the  things  I’d  like  her  to  know—and  more.
  And  she  just  might  listen.
  But  where  to  start?  How  would  we  make  it  work?  I  suggested  we  do  most  of  our   research  by  phone,  as  I  did  for  How  Strong  Women  Pray.  My  telephone   interviews  with  a  governor,  some  CEOs,  actors,  sports  figures,  a  college  president,   and  others  yielded  great  stories  and  information.  I  promised  my  intrepid  co-­‐author,   though,  that  we  could  punctuate  these  conversations  with  a  few  visits  in  person  to   exciting  and  exotic  places—all  with  reasonably  priced  airfares.
  “Why  don’t  we  follow  each  subject  as  she  goes  about  her  daily  life?  That  way  our   readers  get  to  come  along  with  us  and  get  a  behind-­‐  the-­‐scenes  look  at  what   happens  to  them.  Instead  of  just  a  boring  interview,  we—and  our  readers—get  to   hang  around  with  these  women,  see  them  in  their  natural  habitat,  and  even  see  how   other  people  treat  them.”
  Although  I  agreed  it  was  a  wonderful  approach,  this  idea  of  “job-­‐  shadowing”  each   featured  subject  wasn’t  going  to  be  easy.  Would  these  high-­‐powered,  important   women  deign  to  allow  us  that  kind  of  access?  Would  they  be  able  to  impart  the  kind   of  wisdom  that  would  resonate  with  our  readers  and  truly  make  a  difference  in  their   lives?   We  looked  at  each  other,  both  of  us  hooked  on  a  crazy  idea  that  we   weren’t  sure  we  could  pull  off.
  “It  sounds  impossible,  Darcy,”  I  said.  “We  might  as  well  get  started.”
  And  so,  we  stepped  out  .  .  .  on  faith.
  Bonnie  is  a  1984  Paralympics  silver  medal  winner  in  ski   racing.  Her  education  includes  a  degree  with  honors  from  Harvard,  a  Rhodes   scholarship,  and  an  M.Litt  in  Economics  from  Oxford.   Her  career  includes   positions  as  an  award-­‐winning  sales  rep  for  IBM  and  a  Clinton  White  House  member   of  staff.  She  now  is  a  much-­‐in-­‐demand  speaker,  who  makes  nearly  100  speeches   each  year  to  corporations  and  civic  groups.  You  can  visit  her  on  the  Web  at
  Re-­‐printed  with   permission  from  How  Great  Women  Lead  by  Bonnie  St.  John  and  Darcy   Deane
  Exciting  News  –  the  latest  Pearl  Girls  book,  Mother  of  Pearl:  Luminous  Legacies  and   Iridescent  Faith  will  be  released  this  month!  Please  visit  the  Pearl   Girls  Facebook  Page  (and  LIKE  us!)  for  more  information!  Thanks  so  much  for   your  support!

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