I commend the co-authors for providing a brilliant explanation of "how to change the patterns of thinking that block women's paths to power." With regard to the title, Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt urge their reader to realize that most of these patterns are self-imposed...but not all. If you (the reader) allow them to be blocks, if you have accepted them as your own, then you can also reject them and, better yet, help others to do so.
Throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, Flynn, Heath, and Holt juxtapose Old Rules with New Rules, carefully explaining why the latter must replace the former. For example, in Chapter Three, "Take Center Stage."
1. I just take care of everyone else.
2. My needs come last.
3. It's not okay to ask for help.
4. I'm a great number two.
5. I don't belong on center stage.
If not initially but certainly over time, those who accept these Old Rules condone them and by implication affirm them. These rules are worse than self-limiting; they are self-defeating. Those who adopt them are passive, reactive, and can easily be manipulated and intimidated.
1. Take your goals and dreams seriously.
2. Think bigger. Aim higher.
3. Just say no.
4. Be ruthless with your calendar.
5. Take time to refuel.
6. Get famous for something.
7. Practice taking center stage.
Those who adopt these New Rules deny the "death" that Ernest Becker identified: that which occurs when a person becomes wholly preoccupied with fulfilling others' expectations and wishes. Many people play a zero sum game. The New Rules do not apply to that game. They assert that you can respect yourself and others as well as your goals and theirs, your resources and theirs, and your achievements and theirs. Everyone who plays by the New Rules will "win."
Flynn, Heath, and Holt immediately establish and then sustain a direct and personal rapport with their reader throughout the book. They provide an "Executive Summary" is provided at the conclusion of Chapters 3-8, each of which is devoted to one of the six major initiatives they urge each reader to take. They identify six "stumbling blocks" (Pages 14-16) and explain how to avoid or overcome them. They also focus on five conditions now in place that "make it much more likely for women to achieve notable success in their careers." And they share their vision, one they fervently hope this book will help to become a reality: "women in at least 30 percent of the top leadership positions in corporate America."
"At its heart, this is a book about driving change: making individual, group, and systemic change." I agree with Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt that the first great challenge is to redefine one's self in terms of what the New Rules not only offer but require. That is never easy but unless and until it occurs, other changes (in a group or throughout a system) will either not occur or prove woefully insufficient. Decades ago, Mohandas Gandhi advised, "Be the change you seek to achieve." So each of us must ask, "If not now, when? If not me, who?"