The stories in Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart edited by Nina Simons with Anneke Campbell may change the way you view leadership.
The 37 narratives in Moonrise are as diverse as the women, and a few men, who wrote them. These artists, business people, and activists demonstrate that vulnerability and strength are not mutually exclusive. Leading from the heart is for everyone.
I first saw Nina Simons speak during a 2012 Bioneers conference. She radiated warmth and genuineness and at times shed tears without apology. I was surprised and touched. I’d never seen anyone cry on a conference stage before. After the conference, I searched for books by Simons and came across Moonrise.
Our life experiences and personal filters ensure a unique adventure for each reader. I approached Moonrise from a business perspective. My concept of leadership was influenced by over two decades of working for Corporate America. Leadership was about corporate goals, quarterly profits, and getting the job done no matter what (not necessarily bad things but narrowly focused). Employees, managers, and executives were encouraged and expected to leave their personal lives and hearts at home.
Readers from all backgrounds are sure to find something that speaks to her or him in one or more of the stories in Moonrise.
Each piece is introduced by Simons and followed by a brief bio of the author. The essays are grouped into five parts:
- Knowing Our Selves, Our Inner Landscape, and Our Sense of Purpose
- Leadership Sourced from Inner Authority
- Reweaving the Web of Connection
- Renegotiating Power: Generosity, Mentorship, and Respectful Relations
- Restoring the Feminine in Our Strategies, Institutions, and Culture
How Art Can Heal Broken Places
Of all the stories, How Art Can Heal Broken Places by Lily Yeh moved me the most. Yeh describes how creating a community park on a vacant lot in a neglected neighborhood led to a global art program for healing battered and war-torn areas. In a way, it all started when she approached one of the most feared and respected men in the neighborhood and asked for his help. By exposing her own vulnerability (not knowing where or how to begin), he was able to use his strength in a positive way (influencing and gaining the participation of the neighborhood).
Dialogue, Action, and Economics
While reading Moonrise, I marked several passages that struck me as important. A few are included below.
“Dialogue offers us the possibility to change, to give up the rigidity of our opinions for the sacred heart of stories where we remember who we are and who we are not and what binds us together rather than what tears us apart.”
—The Open Space of Democracy, by Terry Tempest Williams
“We have to shift the way we look at direct action. But also we have to realize there is no such thing as a nonaction. By not doing anything, we’re absolutely shaping the way the world is becoming.”
—Direct Action on Behalf of the Earth, by Julia Butterfly Hill
“Basic economics, even conventional economics, teaches that when you tax something, you get less of it. It is the building block of every first-year economics class, but in our culture and on our continent, we tax things we want more of—we tax jobs, we tax income, and we tax investment. At the same time we don’t tax things that are harmful—we don’t tax pollution, we don’t tax sprawl, we don’t tax the wasteful use of natural resources.”
—Transforming Economics, by Donna Morton
The Bottom Line
Nina Simons is the co-founder of Bioneers, a national nonprofit organization that brings people of diverse backgrounds and skills together to work on breakthrough solutions to environmental and social challenges. She is a gifted storyteller herself.
The stories in Moonrise are far ranging and some appealed to me more than others. Yet they were all interesting and informative. Moonrise is not a “how to” book about women’s leadership. It is a collection of inspiration and possibilities.
I believe both women and men interested in a broader interpretation of leadership will find something of interest and value in Moonrise. It should be required reading for all MBA candidates, managers, and executives. I look forward to the day when bringing your authentic self and heart to work is not only accepted but encouraged. I predict it will have a positive impact on employee engagement and the bottom line.
- American Earth – Book Review
- Bioneers 2013 Conference – Turning Vision into Action
- Bioneers – Revolution from the Heart of Nature (2012)
- Central Coast Bioneers – Breakthrough Solutions for People and Planet (2012)
- Central Coast Bioneers Conference 2014 – Growing the Movement
- Eco Amazons – Book Review