A Brief Look Into How It All Started
We live in a time when women and girls have the greatest opportunity we have ever had to become leaders in our businesses and communities. We have the skills, educations, and resources to lead, yet the gap remains.
As women and girls, we can at times hide and diminish parts of ourselves to fit in. We hide our perceived flaws as to not look bad, and we hide our strengths and talents as to not be threatening. Because of cultural pressure to be perfect in every way, we are too often left with a sense of not feeling “good enough” in some area(s) of our lives.
In 1997, a young woman graduated from a competitive college prep school in Silicon Valley with an athletic scholarship to a top Division I school. She had a wide network of friends, a loving family, good grades, and dreams of becoming an attorney who would help create positive change in the world.
This young woman had also fallen into a pattern working hard and playing hard to cope with the pressure to be “perfect” in every way. She suffered from an eating disorder and depression. Her silent struggle was overlooked because on the outside she wore a bright smile and the awards and accolades of a thriving teen.
As this woman came out the other side of a decade of suffering, she began traveling North America speaking in middle and high schools on body image and self esteem. This opportunity allowed her to listen to girls share stories about what it’s like to be them today.
Girls across North America and internationally shared stories with this woman, Heart of Leadership’s Founder: Stephanie Armstrong. They shared about the great opportunity they have, as well as the unprecedented pressure they face.
Countless articles, books, and conversations with young women later, Stephanie saw these high-achieving girls – our greatest hope for parity, integrity, and balance in the next generation of leadership – enduring a silent struggle: They are being raised in a culture that too often asks them to abandon the deepest desires of their hearts.
If we want to give girls the greatest opportunity to succeed, they need to stay connected to their values, their voices, their sense of purpose, and each other.
In 2013, a team of bright, high-achieving women committed to wholehearted living and leading launched Heart of Leadership as a non-profit organization. Our mission is to help girls navigate the pressures of achievement as wholehearted leaders who transform our world.
Each woman involved in Heart of Leadership shares her own journey of being a high-achiever or perfectionist at one time. These journeys are highlighted by accolades, happiness, learning, and success; and each of us has also had to learn that, at times, perfectionism and its pursuit came at a cost.
We are leaders in our businesses, homes, and communities who believe that healthy, wholehearted leadership is the essence of social change. To this end, we support the next generation of young women as they embark on their own leadership journeys.
United in a commitment to live what we teach, Heart of Leadership shares experiences that inspire and empower women and girls to be courageously whole and authentic in our choices, voices, and actions.