My book, Kicking your ass in a corset: Jane Austen’s 6 principles for leading and living from the inside out, is released from Iowa Press this month. In it, I share the six core virtues of novelist Jane Austen’s heroines – confidence, pragmatism, diligence, integrity, playfulness, and humility – and show how they form the basis of internally referenced leadership. Taken together, these principles help women tap into a deep source of personal strength and internal locus of control that is always available to them.
There are so many ways Oak Park has inspired, facilitated, and encouraged this work. Specifically, there are six of them.
Trees in the oak park: When COVID Spring started, I was editing my book and was very grateful for the Oak Park trees in my backyard, which provided me with stability and strength during such a troubling time. Ironically, my book is about how the heroines of Jane Austen allow us to find our internal power and agency, no matter how challenged or pressed by the outside world.
Austin Gardens: Being a longtime fan of Jane Austen, what Rudyard Kipling called a âJaneite,â it felt like divine synchronicity when my husband and I moved near Austin Gardens. One of my favorite outings during COVID is taking our dog Addy (our Pride and Prejudoodle) to the beautiful park where I read or comment on student work. As a Professor and Director of the Leadership Program at DePaul University, College of Education, I teach PhD and Masters students who wish to become leaders in Kindergarten to Grade 12 and higher education. Although I often point to well-known models in education, business and government to illustrate the characteristics of internally referenced empowered leadership, this is not the comparison with modern examples but with the heroines of Jane Austen. that has the most impact.
Progressive values: I am proud to live in a progressive community concerned with issues of equity. I wrote this book to help women tap into their power even when their environment tries to take that power away from them. The ‘corset’ is the metaphor I use to describe the ways that women in the workplace can find it difficult to ‘breathe’ when pushed, pushed and squeezed by seemingly intractable forces beyond their control. .
Caroline Myss: I am greatly influenced by the hard-hitting work of Caroline Myss, Oak Park resident and world-renowned author and women’s empowerment healer. I was honored that she agreed to read and approve my book. My book is written for all women who want to be leaders in their own lives and tap into an internal state of power, agency and equanimity, no matter what is going on around them.
Kick-Ass Oak Park women: In addition to my job at DePaul, I teach women’s empowerment classes, and there are a lot of awesome women in Oak Park that I love to grow up and learn with. They inspired my real applications of Austen’s principles and I am very grateful for their friendship and wisdom.
The book table: I was truly grateful when The Book Table (1045 Lake St., Oak Park, booktable.net) was able to reopen for in-person purchases. I am honored that there will be autographed copies of my book available there.
Andrea Kayne is Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Associate Professor at DePaul University. She has taught, written, and consulted in the areas of Accountable Leadership, Feminist Leadership, Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, and Internally Referenced Leadership. She lives in Oak Park with her husband (Andy Mead, Head of Design and Production at Growing Community Media) and their “stepfamily”. Learn more about Kayne and âKicking Ass in a Corsetâ on andreakayne.com.