Three Things Hillary Clinton Can Do to Appeal to More Voters

In December of 2015, Hillary Clinton had a 31-point advantage nationally to Bernie Sanders in our current primary election. In less than six months, she has gone from being pretty much guaranteed to be the Democratic nominee to barely squeaking by with her tight wins over Bernie in Iowa and Nevada. How did this happen? How could she have gone from being the favorite to now having to fight tooth and nail to stay ahead in the race? I’m sure her campaign is asking themselves the same questions. Nobody, and I mean nobody (including the Sanders campaign I’m sure) expected this to happen. Nobody expected TRUMP to be doing so well either. This has been, thus far, one of the most surprising (not to mention entertaining, thanks to CNN and Fox News) primary campaigns ever run in the United States.

I myself am a Bernie supporter for all the reasons we love Bernie — his authenticity, his passion, and the fact that he is calling for a political revolution in this country, which I think we really, really need. But I’m a woman, and I should vote for Hillary. The thing is, I want to vote for Hillary. She has more experience than God; her diplomatic resume is second to none. But like most people who have decided to go the Bernie route, we sense there is something that’s just not quite authentic about Hillary. There’s a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that’s hard to pinpoint, besides the fact that majority of her funding comes from Wall Street and she voted in favor of the Iraq war.

Here’s the thing about her: Hillary is unlikeable. I think it was a big problem for her in 2008, and it is still a problem. Unfortunately, Hillary is stuck in the double bind most women leaders find themselves in–if you talk too loud, you sound shrill and whiny. If you point your finger, you come off as too aggressive. Not to mention the fact that most people still equate the word leader with masculine traits. Our unconscious biases that get in the way don’t equate leadership to women–period. Now if that’s not a difficult wall to climb, I don’t know what is.

But she has climbed that wall and broken the glass ceiling. She’s running for President of the United States! That is a great achievement as is. But it’s not good enough. If she wants to get elected, she needs to be likeable. She needs to win the hearts of Americans young and old, black or white, gay or straight. And to do that, she needs to appeal to more voters in the way that Bernie appeals to young people. She needs to learn how to be a graceful leader (which is what I write about in my new book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic and Effective Leadership.)

Here are the top three things I think Hillary can do to gain back her lead in the polls:

1) Be Authentic:
Whenever Hillary speaks or smiles, it feels really…polished. Like she has rehearsed that smile a thousand times. We know she has rehearsed those lines a thousand times, because when she’s asked a random question, she sounds less rehearsed and more like a normal human being. You have a feeling that you don’t quite know who Hillary Clinton really is. She’s a fantastic debater, I’ll give you that, she is quick on her feet and she does great under fire. Which makes her a great states-woman. But the problem with all of that is that we don’t want our politicians to act like politicians anymore. We want them to be people, like you and me. We want to feel like they relate with our problems, our worries, our deep desires. We want them to be more authentic. Which requires you to drop the mask and allow people to see your weaknesses. In one word, it takes vulnerability. But that’s a really hard thing for someone like Hillary Clinton, or any woman leader or female CEO for that matter. It goes back to the gender bias that women have to deal with all the time (and for men who think that is just an excuse, you try being a woman in the business or political arena for one day and then get back to me). We already have all the cards stacked against us, so we feel like we have to be that much more prepared for whatever is headed our way. It’s a tricky line to walk, but if more women, including Hillary Clinton, would dare to let down their guard and be vulnerable, it would open up the opportunity for connection. It would allow people to relate and feel safe. This is something Bernie does flawlessly and why I think he is so appealing to voters, especially young voters.

2) Communicate With More Empathy: Hillary Clinton talks like she cares about income inequality, racism, Wall Street corruption, etc., but you also get a sense that she cares about those things because they are hot button issues in this election. And they would buy votes. When Bernie talks about those same issues, you know he really cares. And it’s not only because he shouts and seems angry about the whole situation. It’s because he TRULY cares. You can hear it in his voice, you can see it in his body language, and you can also see it in his track record. The man has been walking his talk for 30 years. And while Clinton has fought hard for a lot of the same issues, she’s also wavered in her loyalty. She’s taken money from the big banks, she doesn’t want to bring back safeguards like Glass-Steagall (which her husband repealed and is what eventually led us to the 2008 global financial crash), and yes, she voted for the Iraq war. You get a sense that she doesn’t have the same type of empathy for the working man or for the single mom who’s living on minimum wage. And if she does care about all these things, then she needs to show it. Which goes back to #1 – communicating with empathy takes vulnerability. It takes telling the other person how you really feel, no matter how weak it makes you look. And that’s something I don’t think Hillary Clinton is very comfortable with.

3) Talk about the We, not the Me:
If you listen to Hillary speak, it’s always about what “I” can do for you, what “I” will do when I’m president, what “I” believe we should do. When Bernie speaks, it is always about the WE. He has built his entire campaign on WE. He never talks about himself as being the Savior we are all waiting for. He talks about political revolution. Which refers to people working together to bring about change. His message and his vision are about bringing different people with diverse backgrounds together to work collaboratively. What Hillary represents is the old paradigm, a very top-down approach that everything from big companies to factories used to organize themselves. Well, maybe she didn’t get the memo, but in the 21st century and with the birth of the Internet, its all about collective movements of people working together toward a common cause. That’s what brought about the Arab Spring, or in this country Occupy Wall Street. It’s what people are craving for — they want their leaders to unite people around a common cause. In order to do that, you have to talk about the WE — the collective. We already elected our Savior…Barack Obama, and look how far that got us.

The qualities I listed above could be considered feminine traits, which I believe are the qualities people are looking for in their leaders today. And it’s something that more women leaders need to feel comfortable embracing in order to be likeable, authentic and effective, which will also eventually helps us close the gender gap. Emulating our male counterparts doesn’t have the same impact as leaning into our feminine strengths like vulnerability, empathy, care, intuition, and humility to name a few. I believe if Hillary Clinton develops the courage to embrace her feminine strengths, she could win the nomination by a landslide. Let’s see if she reads this article.

You can read this article on Huffington Post as well.

How I Faced My Biggest Fear and Won

Although I’m a woman’s leadership coach who helps women overcome barriers to self-confidence, there was once a time where I very much struggled with my own feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence. My biggest fear: saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that I would speak my opinion or express myself in some way, and it would be the wrong thing to say, and people would laugh in my face at how stupid I was. As I write the last sentence, I’m struck at the absurdity of this fear. But let me assure you, at the time, it was a very real, visceral fear. Every time it came time for me to open my mouth, be it at a meeting, during a presentation or in any group situation, this fear would take over my entire body. It would paralyze me, literally leaving me speechless. And then, the internal berating would begin. “Why don’t you open your mouth and say something?” or “People will think you have nothing to say, say something!” and on and on. Needless to say, it was a real problem.

And it was a problem not only because it kept me from speaking up, but it also prohibited me from contributing my ideas and brilliance. Standing in front of a group of people scared the bejeezus out of me, and as I stepped into my leadership, having to give presentations or trainings would literally make me sick. The thought was so terrifying that I would come down with a horrible flu of some kind, forcing me to cancel the workshop or presentation. This went on for years until I was finally fed up and decided to face my fear and do it any way.

One day I had a pretty important training to run, and as usual I came down with a nasty cold a few days prior. I almost cancelled the session but this time I had too much at stake – my reputation was on the line. So instead of cancelling, I showed up, sick as a dog and delivered the session. At the end, after facing my biggest fear, I felt SUCH a sense of relief and accomplishment. Nothing terrible happened! Nobody laughed in my face! In actuality, the opposite happened. People gave me positive feedback, they enjoyed the training very much and I could see that I had made a real impact on them with my teachings. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway helped me beat the plaguing whisper in my head that was constantly telling me I wasn’t good enough. It was the first step in building up my confidence.

Today, about five years later, I am about to give one of my biggest presentations yet – in front of 300 people! Am I nervous? Of course I am, but I’m excited at the opportunity to face my fear and do it anyway. I know it will stretch me and help me grow in many ways. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, or maybe say the wrong thing, but that doesn’t terrify me as much anymore. I know that as long as I am myself, my brilliance will shine through. Authenticity is a great foe to feelings of inadequacy. When we dare to be ourselves, we have nothing to lose! It’s only when we try to be someone we are not, that we are at risk of failing.

Here are my top three tips on how to conquer YOUR fears:

 

  • Feel the fear and do it anyway: The best way to conquer our fears is quickly and swiftly through the 1-2 punch of well, facing your fear and taking action. The longer we stay inactive towards our goals and dreams, the firmer the grip of our fears. They end up becoming the ‘norm’ and eventually we give up or settle for something less. Think about it this way – fear is a fixation of our imagination. It only exists if we give it attention. Once you take that first step towards your goal, the next steps after that become much easier.

 

  • Be authentic: The biggest enemy of our sabotaging thoughts is giving us the permission to just be ourselves. It’s about being OK with your uniqueness; no matter how quirky or odd you think it is. The best part is that there is no way you can fail at being you! That’s when our courage kicks in and we can begin to dare more greatly. One of my favorite quotes says, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Letting go of the need to be like the next person gives us the opportunity to bring our gifts to the table and let go of our inhibitions.

 

  • Tap into your Inner Mentor: The good news is although all of us have an Inner Critic (the voice that puts us down and keeps us stuck), we also have an Inner Mentor. Your Mentor is your inner cheerleader, that part of yourself who knows you’ve got this! The trick is to turn the volume up on your Inner mentor’s voice, and turn the volume WAY down on your Inner Critic. Write down positive statements your Inner Mentor would say to you in times of self-doubt or fear, and remind yourself of those words when you feel insecure. Doing this can be a great first step in turning up the volume on what gets you saying YES!

When have you ever felt moments of inadequacy or lack of self-confidence? What did you do to combat those fears? Share you experience below in the comments.

The Importance of Sisterhood

Photo Credit: Margot Duane

Two weeks ago I had the honor and privilege of attending the WisdomWomen Visionary Gathering together with 150 women from around the world, held at one of the most beautiful and energetically powerful places in the world, The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. When I first heard about this weekend retreat, I knew it was somewhere I needed to be. Not only did it exceed my expectations, it reminded me of why sisterhood is so important for the advancement of women at this time and why we need so much more of it in our lives. As I continue to integrate the learning, the deep, meaningful conversations, and the beautiful connection to the Feminine and to Mother Earth, I wanted to share some of reflections with my readers and followers.

WisdomWomen was birthed at the Wisdom 2.0 conference back in 2013 by founder Michelle Stransky. Over 100 women attended an open discussion about what women need to be able to step into their leadership more fully and change the world. It was a moving discussion that led to the eventual creation of the WisdomWomen gathering that took place at Esalen.

The invitation for this gathering was clear—if you feel called to make an impact in the world, then join us to co-create a new reality together! With 200 women on the waiting list, clearly there was a need for this type of gathering, a sort of collective yearning amongst women to come together as a tribe, to support one another and connect with each other in a meaningful way. It was the same yearning I’ve felt for quite some time as an executive coach and trainer specializing in empowering women—women are aching to come together and make a difference in the world.

However, for many, the path to changing the world can sometimes feel like a very lonely one. And it’s not because there aren’t amazing women in the world doing some amazing things. There are a ton of them. It because changing the world often feels like a struggle, feel difficult, and often times keeps us isolated from others. It’s also not because there aren’t hundreds if not thousands of amazing women’s networks, associations and circles available to women. There are a ton of those too. There is something else that is holding women back from really dropping into a connective place with one another. It’s something that can be difficult to put a finger on, but nonetheless palpable.

As emotional beings, women take on far more than men in terms of self-doubt, self-criticism and other negative baggage. It begins with a small whisper and if left unchecked, can grow into a loud roar. Those saboteurs tell us lies like other women are better than me, and gosh, I don’t really have anything to offer. So we hold back from introducing ourselves to that woman or to that network of women. We hold ourselves back from expressing our gifts and our ideas. We hold back our greatness.

At the WisdomWomen though, it felt like most of us were able to break free from the barriers that hold us back, whether its our feelings of inadequacy, not being good enough, feeling left out, not supported, competitive or jealous. For myself and I suspect for many women at this gathering, those barriers slid away into the night sky as we came together to perform a ritual around the blazing fire, giving thanks to the four directions, North, South, East, West, and Father Sky and Mother Earth. As we honored our planet, we honored one another, because when we treat nature as a part of ourselves, we become whole again. We come back to the truth that resides within our hearts that we are all One, all connected, interdependent beings of Love. As we entered our sacred space and sat in circle with one another, connecting with our voices and hearts, it was clear that barriers weren’t invited. And for two whole days all of us were able to operate from a place of pure connection and love, and were given the gift of experiencing what it is like to be in pure Sisterhood.

From this place we came together to connect with each others visions for the world, what our hearts know is possible for our planet and for humanity, and we shared our projects and ideas for changing the world. We began to form relationships and connections that will lead to collaborations that are yet to be known. We shared our longing for the world and what we hope we can co-create as women leaders who feel responsible for the future of our planet. We bathed together in the therapeutic waters of Esalen and engaged in healing conversations. We came together in song and dance and expressed the truest parts of ourselves. Most importantly, we came together as Sisters celebrating one another.

Upon returning back into my real life, back to my husband and to my friends and family, I found myself more openhearted than usual. I felt freer to be my true self—more soft, more feminine, more loving. I was sweeter to my husband and in turn he responded with more affection and attention. I felt more creative, compelled to express myself through writing. I was able to drop down into my intuition and felt more connected to my inner sense of knowing. In turn, I was able to give more to my clients, to my friends and family and be more present with all of them. I felt renewed, energized and invigorated. In essence, I felt more ME.

This beautiful experience led me to me to realize the importance of Sisterhood and why it is so integral we come together to support one another during this time in women’s advancement. In our crazy 24/7-wired world we can get so wrapped up in the logistics of our lives, forgetting that which feeds and nurtures us. We forget the importance of slowing down, taking stock and taking care of ourselves. We forget the need to connect with our Sisters and fill up our cups with inspiration. It’s just so essential to who we are as women!! And we need more. We need more women in the world who are able to consistently vibrate from this higher state of being. When women are able to sustain this frequency, we are a force to be reckoned with. There is no mountain we cannot move. There is nothing we cannot manifest as we step into our feminine power. Absolutely nothing.

The challenge is finding ways to form supportive circles of women sans barriers, even when we aren’t in beautiful places like Esalen. What do you think is required to do that? How can we as women approach one another and be in community and connection from an authentic and honest place? I would love to hear your thoughts and reflections as we continue the learning together and continue holding this beautiful container for each other.