Thursday, November 8, 2018

One Team, One Book: Choose to Matter by Julie Foudy

In the Spring of 2017, I met two-time Olympic Gold medalist, former captain of the US Women's National soccer team, ESPN commentator and author Julie Foudy at Kepler's Books in Palo Alto. The coach of another girls' golf team invited me to join him at what proved to be an intimate and dynamic evening that featured Julie in conversation with two other incredible women:
  • Brandi Chastain: one of the best ambassadors for soccer, who has won two World Cups, two Olympic gold and one silver medal, the Inaugural WUSA Championship, and captained the San Jose Cyberrays.
  • Darla Anderson: a senior producer at Pixar whose producing talents have brought us beloved movies such as Cars, Monster's Inc, A Bugs Life, and Toy Story 3. 
I could barely comprehend the talent, credentials, energy, enthusiasm, and excellence standing and sitting in front of me. Although Foudy's work, her book Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously You served as the impetus for the gathering, it was only a reflection of who she might surround herself by on a regular basis! Such company, her passion, lived experiences and stories, wisdom and success are worth chronicling—and so she did. What inspires me most is that she decided to do that for a specific audience—young women, girls, and female athletes in particular.
Foudy reported for ESPN.W the why behind the work. She wrote
The book I have always wanted to write is about owning your awesome, raising your hand, getting on the dance floor, shimmying out of your comfort zone, being comfortable with uncomfortable, dreaming out loud, ... (you get it). It is about CHOOSING TO MATTER. 
Because this I know: Life doesn't just happen. You happen to life. YOU decide how you want to write your story. YOU. This book is for the teenager starting her journey or the woman at a critical fork in her journey. It is for every person, wherever you may be on your path, who needs a little nudge. Who needs a little motivation... to be courageously you. 
For too long I equated leadership with a position. I thought leaders were presidents or politicians or celebrities or four-star generals with a horse and sword. I thought you had to be in a position to impact lots and lots of people (someone I certainly was not), to lead. 
But what I discovered -- in large part, thanks to the amazing women I played alongside -- is just how broad the definition of leadership is. Leadership is loud. It is quiet. It is thoughtful and emotional and cerebral and nerdy and goofy and joyful and motivating. Leadership is calm in the chaos. It is standards. It is believing when others don't. It is celebrating others. It is empowering others. It is all those things and so much more. Most important, leadership is personal, not positional. 
The hardest part is just summoning the courage to choose to lead, to raise your hand. To own that awesome. It is not a question of IF you will be a leader, but HOW. The key is being authentically you —a leader others will want to follow because you are genuine. It is your style. 
And if you don't believe me, well, I summoned 10 amazing women to come to share their stories about how they unleashed their inner leader. My hope is this book serves as a roadmap (full of fun exercises, quick activities, and journaling) to help you unlock your potential. There is a method to the madness, or at least I like to pretend there is. We tell stories, share lessons, pass on wisdom. 
My goal in all of this is to make you laugh, make you think, make you eat more donuts, and make you excited to embrace life. And most importantly, to share that new, fabulous you with the world by passing on leadership. By empowering others. 
And here's the really cool thing: You can. So why not #choosetomatter?
I started to read Choose to Matter with all the enthusiasm of a fan girl....of someone who
had a chance to hear and meet the author, who left even more star struck by the collective experience and excellence in the room. I read about one-third of the book right away, wishing that it were a shared experience with my golf team there and then. 

Starting and not finishing a book is par for my course—several puns intended. However, the catchy cover—yes, we will judge this book by that, and the memories from the group reading at Kepler's called me back to finish the text. I completed this book more convinced that it ought to serve as an inaugural "One Team, One Book" text for my team...and maybe yours. 

The Table of Contents features sections Foudy calls "EmpowerRings." Each one is meant to move the reader from inward to outward reflection. 
  • Section 1: Self
  • Section 2: Team
  • Section 3: School
  • Section 4: Community
  • Section 5: Life
  • Bios
The layout of Choose to Matter is creative and appeals to the female eye. The fun colors, clever sketches, and outstanding quotes give this book an active and dynamic persona. Exercises for the reader and an invitation to journal at the conclusion of every chapter with the words: "Don't Just Think it, Ink It" prevent passive engagement. Foudy isn't afraid to make fun of herself with incriminating photos from her past. She also offers incredible stories of success—breaking barriers and shattering expectations along the way.  She is one of our best. Thanks, Julie!
If you are a coach and would like to use this book for "One Team, One Book" I am more than willing to share the book discussion resource I have created! Please contact me! Happy to share.

Photo Credits
Leadership Logo
Book cover
Hamm and Foudy

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