Two Girls, A Little Boat, And 3 Big Lessons About Power

Gloria Feldt
5 min readMay 28, 2024


Issue 260— May 27, 2024

The weather app said rain would start at 3pm. I met Camille Jalandoni and Justyna Kedra, founders of WeRule for a walk in Central Park at 12:30 thinking I’d be home well before the downpour. I’m a big fan of walking meetings, and we had a purpose for this one: to talk about partnering to make the new WeRule mentoring app available to Take The Lead participants.

But before we got down to business, Camille and Justyna gleefully told me this story that illustrates the power of mentorship’s ability to make a difference in the course of someone’s life, and the importance of mindset especially when it comes to how women think about their own power to impact their world.

L to R: Justyna, Camille and me on our recent Central Park walking meeting.

It seems the two women had attended a family Memorial Day picnic. Among the children present were a boy and two girls of around five years of age. The picnic was near a pool, and the toys brought to entertain the children included a small boat.

One small boat.

The boy grabbed the boat and took it into the pool. The two girls began to cry that they wanted to play with the boat too.

Justyna and Camille said to the girls: “There are two of you and only one of him. You are powerful. Together you can get the boat.”

The girls learned the lesson well. Not only did they stop crying and go together to take the boat, but they kept joyfully repeating for the rest of the picnic, “We are powerful!”

There are three important lessons in that story for grownups as well as children.

First of all, if you do not know and embrace your own power, you are indeed powerless. But once you do know and are willing to use what I call your “powerTO,” you become powerful and can act on your power with intention, confidence, and joy.

If you know the core teaching of my 9 Leadership Power Tools leadership development curriculum, you know it shows how to redefine the power paradigm in our own minds from oppressive “power over” as the narrative of history has framed it to the generative, creative, and infinite “powerTO.”

We can make life better for ourselves, our families, our communities, our workplace, and the world. That shift in thinking literally changes everything for the women in our programs. It frees you to elevate to your highest intention because you know you can achieve it.

Second, mentorship makes a difference. Imagine what a lasting impression that one moment of impromptu mentorship made for two little girls who now have imprinted on their minds a much greater sense of their own agency than they had when they felt powerless to get to play with the boat.

How many times even in our adult lives have we failed to realize the power we already had in our hands when we wanted something that seemed out of reach? And how many of us can point to something we learned from a mentor, whether the mentoring relationship was formal or informal, that influenced us for the rest of our lives?

I never had a formal mentor, but I find myself channeling the words and ideas of at least two people who mentored me in profound ways even though we never called it that. “You don’t need to drop your whole database,” I can hear my first boss saying when my reports were too wordy. A retired journalist, she aimed to teach me to write with precision and parsimony. I’m still working on it.

The third big lesson of the little boat is that we are more powerful together.

The two girls clearly felt stronger by going to retrieve the boat together. Now, I imagine the children’s parents saw to it that the three children eventually took turns playing with the boat rather than fighting over it. Because in toys as in life, there is enough for everyone when we collaborate, when we work together to achieve our mission.

It’s why one of my favorite leadership lessons in my book Intentioning is “Believe in the infinite pie.” There are no limits to what we innovative humans can do when we realize power is an infinite resource. We do not have to fight each other for crumbs when we realize we always have the ability to make more and bigger and more flavorful pies.

But here’s the rub: Splintered, we will keep fighting the same battles and never win them.

That’s why social movements are born, to mass strengths and work or fight for a common goal. It’s why it was important for Justyna, Camille, and me to ignore the rain that started falling an hour sooner than predicted, because we know that by partnering we can help more women embrace their power and get the mentorship they deserve.

And it’s why the theme for Take The Lead’s Power Up Concert and Conference on August 25 and 26 is “TOGETHER WE LEAD.”

Watch this spot for details and early bird ticket sales coming soon. Plan to join us in Washington DC. Yes, we know it will be hot, and the energy in the room where it’s happening will be even hotter. But the speakers, performers, and roomful of women and men will be very cool. So trust me, you want to be there.

Meanwhile, I want you to remember that you are powerful. You have the #PowerTO get whatever your preferred boat might be and sail it wherever you want to go.

Together, We Lead.

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker, a global expert in women’s leadership development and DEI for individuals and companies that want to build gender balance. She is a bestselling author of five books, most recently Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) Good. Honored as Forbes 50 Over 50, and Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at and Find her @GloriaFeldt on all social media.



Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a nonprofit women’s leadership organization.