Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Flip the Scipt

At The Leading Women Project, we like to think of each life as following a script.  Not a script written for you in which you are merely acting a part, but a script that you can write and rewrite to suit who you are as an individual and what role you want to play.  You get to choose the cast of characters, the plot, the tempo and the mood.  The Leading Women Project continues to develop and refine the concept, which will be included  in our upcoming book.


I have thought about scripts as being personal but had reason to rethink this assumption when I heard the author, Sapphire, speak last year. She wrote the novel, Push, which was the basis for the movie, Precious.  Her newest book is The Kid.

Sapphire spoke about scripts in a large societal context.  These scripts are the sets of beliefs about how things are done and how people think. She referred specifically to the dialogue in early 2008 around Barack Obama’s push to gain the Democratic Party’s nomination for President.  The big discussion was “Could a black man be elected president?”

The script that that had been written said NO, A BLACK MAN CANNOT BE ELECTED PRESIDEN. In order for him to win the nomination and the election required Americans to be ready to Flip the Script.

Cast off the Old Rules

Wearing white shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day is a violation of a pre-written script.  But think of all of the other societal scripts we follow:

  • Everyone should own a home.
  • Only college graduates have a secure future. Or,  the inverse, all college graduates have a secure future
  • Men are the only natural leaders
  • Children can best be raised in two parent households like the Cleavers.

Old Scripts Need Updates

Yes, these rules work for many but not for all.  We need to accept that some rules may have existed for a long time but doesn’t mean that they continue to work.  Scripts can be binding and limiting and prevent individuals from being happy or having successful, meaningful lives.  The scripts written by others do not necessarily fit all of us as individuals.  And, the scripts written by our traditional society do not necessarily bring happiness or success to the society.

Many facets of our society do not seem to be working well—violence, poverty, unemployment, discrimination and general unhappiness are far too prevalent. Our election process this year is bringing all of this to the debate stage.

Scripting for Leadership

The old scripts, which talk to addressing these problems, have lead to a negative spiral, with no foreseeable end or real solutions. We cannot use old rules to change the present.  Remember, the old script only applies until it doesn’t. It has always been that way until it is not.  Man didn’t walk on the moon until he did.

It is truly time for our leaders and us to understand the need to Flip the Script.

What societal scripts do you think need an update?

Christine Jacobs is an experienced corporate executive and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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