8: Tools & spaces for embodying new habits

practice [prak-tis]

n. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary

embody [em-bod-ee]

v. to provide with a body; incarnate; make corporeal; to collect into or include in a body; incorporate

It is not enough to learn new leadership approaches or to be exposed to different methods for strengthening one’s resilience, developing a shared political analysis, and cultivating interdependence. For these skills to take seed and become natural impulses, it is necessary they be embodied through regular practice.

Our in-person retreats and mini-intensives were where the women were first introduced to content and techniques. Between gatherings, we offered critical tools and check-in spaces to reground the women in this new knowledge and support them as they built their own leadership practices.

During a WISE COUNSEL session, one of the women talked about a time when she felt really empowered when speaking to the governor of her state. She knew that her tendency in similar situations was to take on the posture of other people, which tripped her up and took her from her authentic self. On this occasion with the governor, she used the few minutes before the formal talk to exchange a joke and this immediately changed the tenor of the exchange that followed, making it feel more like a conversation. During the coaching session, the questions from her peers encouraged her to turn this spontaneous choice into a practice.

1:1 Supports

Individual Coaching: A partnership with a woman of color trained in thought-provoking and creative coaching processes meant to inspire you to maximize your personal and professional potential (Six 1-hour long sessions).

Homegirls”: In the early part of the program, participants are paired with one other participant who works with them to stay present and engaged during the longer retreats (see Maximize/Minimize), and provides additional space for processing, accountability, and support throughout the rest of the program. This relationship is largely self-facilitated and can be sustained via regular check ins or occasional texts.

1:1s with Program Leads/Staff Facilitators: During the group retreats, it can be difficult for program leads or facilitators responsible for “holding the whole” to get a sense of how individual participants are faring. 1:1s between retreats can give participants space to ask questions, share critical insights and reflections about themselves and the program, and build relationships with the program leads.


Recorded Purpose Statements: During the opening retreat, participants develop their own purpose statements and share it in front of the group in a way that is powerful and energizing. These purpose statements are recorded and shared with the women so they can refer back to them whenever necessary and can be incorporated into future sessions by the facilitators as a way of regrounding the group.

Leadership Cultivation Plan: Personalized map of goals, strategies, and steps to take to transform yourself as a leader, your organization and your wider community.

Strengthsfinder Assessment: A personal development tool developed by Gallup Education that identifies your “top 5” strengths. There are 34 different strength themes divided into four domains: 1) Strategic Thinking, 2) Relationship Building, 3) Influencing and 4) Executing. Focusing on your strengths on a daily basis has been shown to profound positive effects on your personal and professional well-being.

Suggested readings & books: Articles, videos and books are some of the many tools we use to strengthen our shared political analysis of the importance to stand in our authentic leadership and of the obstacles that can get in the way.

Group Check-ins

Digital Communication Group: Participants join a WhatsApp or Slack group that provides space for maintaining ongoing emotional support and connection as well as a place to share or request resources.

Regular Virtual Political Education or Professional Development Training (90 minutes/4-6x during the program year): These sessions (which can be requested and/or led by participants themselves) revisit topics from retreats or dive into skills that are more standalone and can be covered outside of a retreat setting.

(Standing) Peer Coaching Circles: Peer coaching is an action learning process in which a standing circle of peers support each other to hold one another accountable to their goals and address current problems and challenges.

(Ad Hoc) Wise Counsel: Organized process for calling together a group of peers to offer advice on a strategic question. The group is not necessarily a standing group. You can pull together any configuration you desire.

Continue onto Acknowledgements