Sharing my learnings from the book, Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams
Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams
Leadership is hard. Convincing others—and yourself—that you are capable of taking charge and achieving more requires insight and courage. Lead from the Outside is the handbook for outsiders, written with an eye toward the challenges that hinder women, people of color, the working class, members of the LGBTQ community, and millennials ready to make change. Stacey uses her hard-won insights to break down how ambition, fear, money, and failure function in leadership, and she includes practical exercises to help you realize your own ambition and hone your skills. Lead from the Outside discusses candidly what Stacey has learned over the course of her impressive career in politics, business and the nonprofit world: that differences in race, gender, and class provide vital strength, which we can employ to rise to the top and create real and lasting change.
- the traditional narrative of success – work hard & the world will open doors for you – doesn’t apply to everyone. Anyone else not historically represented in the halls of power – the playing field isn’t level.
- ambition means permitting yourself to stretch beyond what feels safe. Embrace it!
- once you’ve figured out your ambition consider why you want it and how you’ll get there. Organize your plans around why, not what and be willing to change course. Passion is what helps us go from goal setting to taking action
- if all outsiders were too afraid to challenge norms, nothing would change. Begin to overcome your fears by naming them. These fears are deep, real and not easy to dismiss. What you can control is how you approach them. You can’t beat stereotype but you can show that there’s value in your difference
- outsiders can navigate their way to power by hacking traditional systems
- recognize the difference between humility and self doubt. If you keep saying you’re nothing special, they’ll start to believe you
- outsider and minorities face complex challenges that often require guidance from a variety of sources. Self-awareness will help you forge authentic connections & process outside advice. Build a mentorship network by being intentional about what you’re looking for.
- money is one of the biggest obstacles to leadership. Overcome it by gaining financial fluency.
- getting a handle on your finances is difficult when systemic biases undermine your attempts.
- First, honestly assess your past financial missteps while acknowledging the barriers in your way.
- Next, if you’re in debt, make a plan to climb out.
- Then, begin to build financial fluency.
- Finally, be sure to know the details of your plan inside out – how much money you need and exactly what it’ll fund.
- the best leaders stumble and fall and still choose to do the right thing. Effective leaders also know how to admit they’re wrong. Use the information you gain from making mistakes to learn going forward.
- approach managing your time like a game of Jenga, in which you stack equal-size blocks to form a perfect tower and then pull them out, one by one, re-stacking them on top. Make the best possible strategic moves to keep the metaphorical tower from crashing down – and if it does, build it again
- Abrams adapted President Dwight Eisenhower’s method (categorize things based on importance & urgency) using 4 categories:
- Gotta Do (things that are crucial & must happen right now)
- Need to Do (accomplish things early)
- Oughta Do (when another person’s needs require your urgency)
- Might Get Around to (aren’t important or urgent).
- managing your time is easier when you focus on what you’re good at and give up control.
- to acquire power & make real change, you must be creative with your resources & challenge yourself
- remember not to let your position determine your sphere of influence
- channel Abrams’ spreadsheet and map your ambition. In 5 columns, write down what you want, why you want it, what strategies you can use to attain it, what help you need & who can help you, and when you hope to accomplish it.