10/03/2014 03:19 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST

Freedom Is Trending: From Fashion to Gender Equality

Woman relaxing at the beach with arms open enjoying her freedom
Woman relaxing at the beach with arms open enjoying her freedom

I am no stranger to the search for freedom. I've always been drawn to the open road and I feel inspired by leadership roles and risk in the unknown. And since I'm confessing, I have also been known to resist conformity -- a throwback to school uniforms in my early years, I'm sure. But recently I've been noticing a trend; the word freedom is appearing in unexpected and inspiring places. Is this the theme of a generation of women who will right the ship?

At a recent event for Young Women of Influence...

Holt Renfrew's Lisa Tant was a keynote speaker for "How to Dress For The Job You Want." Instead of preaching "the rules" she shifted our perspective and spoke to us about the power of fashion and that you can dress for your work culture, but with freedom and large doses of creativity (okay, and some healthy spending). This freedom of self-expression through fashion doesn't have to be so bold you shock your clients, or communicate a message that does a disservice to your skills or ambition. Your fashion sense can and should be used to communicate on your behalf -- what you're made of, who you are and not just what you do. This kind of statement helps you stand out in all the right ways.

Emma Watson's UN Address ...

This expertly (and vulnerably) delivered message gives us a new reason (because we still need more?!) on why it's important to treat women and men as equals. Watson says, "gender equality is freedom."

Have you taken the 13 minutes to watch this yet? Almost 200,000 people have. And I highly recommend it. Her use of the word that grabbed my heart strings was "solidarity." There's something really beautiful about the image of freedom in solidarity, and I pictured the wave of millennials that are heading towards us like a tsunami on the old-school corporate campus. This is what we are all searching for! Solidarity with self-expression, uniqueness and freedom to make the most of who we are in the world we live in.

In my recent workshop for women on "How to Find Your Passion"...

Here I was blown away by how unexpectedly freedom presented itself. In the workshop, vision-boarding has long been a part of the brainstorming process that I teach. Each participant starts by selecting a "jumping off point" comparable to famed designer and woman of influence, Sarah Richardson. She designs a room around the point of inspiration of a certain colour or fabric. Similarly, we pick an image to start the dialogue on what we want to design our passion around. Since leading this course, the participants have always selected an image of a woman in a business or leadership role--power suits, C-suites, corporate visionaries, entrepreneurial shop girls. But this time something different happened.

EVERYONE in the room last month picked an image that reflected a feeling they were passionate about having: a mind that was strong, clear and calm. The feeling of freedom. Big open skies, bodies of water, horses and warrior poses on the beach took the place of women in business. It was a powerful message that truly hit me over the head and had me thinking about Danielle LaPorte's theory on building your life around your core desired feelings.

Is this the new passion, the search for freedom of our mind versus the job that we hold? Is this how we will ultimately be able to answer the question, "who am I?" instead of answering, "what I do?"

What's next?

Let's make a deal to press on with this trend, and our collective search for freedom, as I believe it will lead to great things.

At the end of the day, I know we'll never be great (you, me, women, people) if we follow the same old rules and keep doing things the way they have always been done. Let's keep searching outside the box, continue to break the right rules, and have an incredible impact; from how we walk into a room, change the corporate leadership culture, or simply live with a free state of mind.