After reading The Wolfpack by Abby Wambach and through my Coaching, it has highlighted a set of unwritten rules. A set of rules that seem to exist within a very high percentage of households, written to control and contain a woman's true identity and stop them from reaching their full potential.
Abby Wambach is an Olympic gold medallist, a FIFA World Cup Champion and has scored more international goals than any other women or man in history. During Abby's career and life, she came across a set of unwritten rules, but rather than accept them; she changed them.
In Abby's book, her message is this:
"Women must stop following the Old Rules, which only exist to maintain the status quo. If we follow the rules we've always followed, the game will remain the same. Old ways of thinking will never help us build a new world. Out with the Old. In with the New".
Abby has created 8 New Rules that will change the game forever. "NEW RULES 1. Create your own path. 2. Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve. 3. Lead now—from wherever you are. 4. Failure means you're finally IN the game. 5. Be FOR each other. 6. Believe in yourself. Demand the ball. 7. Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders. 8. You're not alone. You've got your Pack."
Society likes to remind us that disobedient girls pay a high price for their waywardness. Just consider the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, the young girl who ignores clear instructions to continue along the path and avoid the woods.
Abby believes that all women should strive to be less like Little Red Riding Hood and more like the wolf – powerful, courageous, and hungry for more. She writes, "There is a wolf inside of every woman. Her wolf is who she was made to be before the world told her who to be. Her wolf is her talent, her power, her dreams, her voice, her curiosity, her courage, her dignity, her choices—her truest identity."
The gender pay gap continues to be an issue for women everywhere. In 2018, American women in every age group and industry made just 81% of their male equivalents' earnings. What's the cause of this continuing inequality? Abby believes that part of the problem is gratitude. Specifically, women are often so overwhelmed with gratitude at just being included, recognised or given a paycheque at all that they're fearful of asking for more. She writes, "What keeps the pay gap in existence is not just the entitlement and complicity of men. It's the gratitude of women. Our gratitude is how power uses the tokenism of a few women to keep the rest of us in line."
To close the gender pay gap, women must learn to use their voices and demand equality.
Abby writes, "Be grateful. But do not JUST be grateful. Be grateful AND brave. Be grateful AND ambitious. Be grateful AND righteous. Be grateful AND persistent. Be grateful AND loud. Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve."
Many women believe they must do everything perfectly, an old expectation imposed by the patriarchy. Meaning that when women experience failure and realise they aren't perfect, they lose their nerve. They start to believe they were imposters all along. In contrast, men are more comfortable with their imperfections and don't see why they should fail and lead despite them.
Women need to embrace failure and use it to empower themselves. Abby writes, "When we live afraid to fail, we don't take risks. We don't bring our entire selves to the table—so we end up failing before we even begin." And goes on to say, "The world needs to see women take risks, fail big, and insist on their right to stick around and try again. And again. And again. A champion never allows a short-term failure to take her out of the long-term game. A woman who doesn't give up can never lose."
Women can find it harder to praise each other's successes. Society gives women the message that they are competitors against each other instead of champions for one another. Women have been told that female power is a scarce resource. Abby believes that this scarcity is nothing but an illusion. Once we realise we have nothing to fear from each other's success, we can all help each other. We can stop fighting each other and instead work together to construct a bigger, better table, with a seat for every one of us. She writes, "Her victory is your victory. Celebrate with her. Your victory is her victory. Point to her."
Her book also covers some significant leadership challenges that Abby has faced and overcome throughout her career and makes some great suggestions on how to change the game in how you lead. Abby writes, "Leadership is taking care of yourself and empowering others to do the same. Leadership is not a position to earn; it's an inherent power to claim. Leadership is the blood that runs through your veins—it's born in you. It's not the privilege of a few; it is the right and responsibility of all. Leader is not a title that the world gives to you—it's an offering that you give to the world."
She then ends the book highlighting that we are not meant to be lone wolfs; we need a pack. "Whether you're a mum, a college student, a CEO, or a little girl, you need a crew of brave and honest women to support you. You need them to hold you accountable to your greatness, remind you of who you are, and join you to change the world."
I am fortunate that I already have a pack, a fantastic group of men and women I have grown up with or who I have had the privilege of meeting throughout my life and career.
Who is in your pack and what rules are you going to change?