Four Lessons Learned from Strong, Successful Women
March is Women’s History Month. A whole month dedicated to celebrating the contributions of women, both past and present, including those who used their gifts to advance areas like arts, literature and science, and those who fought and are fighting systems of oppression for equal rights and justice.
Personally, I think we could have 12 months dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women! Since we have this month dedicated to the contributions of women, here are a few lessons I have learned from strong, successful women.
Do What You Can to Make a Difference in the World
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lifelong advocate for gender equality, teacher, lawyer, supreme court justice, wife, mother and grandmother serves as an inspiration to many through her strength in standing up for what she believed and lifelong dedication to making a difference in the world. My favorite quote from RBG is “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
She reminds us of the importance of not only doing the right thing, but leading in a way that inspires and motivates others. Her work led many women to enter the field of law and continue the fight for gender equality, but what does this ideal look like on a daily basis, for those of us who aren't lawyers fighting for gender equality? Maybe it means speaking up for someone at work or school who is unable to speak up for themselves. Maybe it means dedicating your time volunteering to serve an underserved population. Maybe it means offering a smile and a listening ear to someone who is having a rough day. It all depends on you.
Know your values, and be intentional about living out your values on a daily basis, inspiring and leading others to join you along the way.
Speak Your Truth
I am naturally a reserved person, thinking and processing internally before sharing my thoughts out loud. There have even been times when I have missed the chance to share what I am thinking, concerned about how it will be received. I learned a very important lesson from my bold sister.
I watched her speak up for herself and while I knew she did not always receive the response she was looking for; I also saw her confidence in knowing she had spoken her true feelings and not held anything back. This became my goal.
Speaking truth doesn’t mean not caring what others think of you or saying hurtful things to others. Speaking truth means saying what is on your heart, giving yourself permission to share your thoughts without altering them for the benefit of others. And while it takes practice, I always remember the lesson learned from my wise sister about speaking truth.
There is Value in Being an Introvert
Often times introverts look down on themselves, as if there is something wrong with being introverted. I was one of these uncomfortable introverts in the past until a supervisor shared with me the benefits of being an introvert.
Introverts aren’t necessarily shy, reserved or socially anxious people. Introverts are people who draw energy from spending time alone. Introverts recharge with quiet activities. Introverts can thrive in social settings, be confident in business settings and have many friends. They also know at the end of a long day or week the best thing for them is to relax in a quiet setting.
Being more reserved and natural observers, introverts can be more reflective and better problem solvers than their extroverted counterparts. So take pride in introversion and find yourself a quiet activity that brings you peace. If you are interested in reading more, check out:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.
Be Intentional About Maintaining Friendships
A frequent topic in sessions with clients is how hard it is to make friends as an adult. Many find it difficult to find friends with similar interests, to make new connections or find the time to maintain connections with old friends. For some, fitting friend time into your schedule can seem impossible.
In reading Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry I learned that even our former first lady finds it difficult to find and maintain friendships. Her advice? Be intentional, be pushy if needed, if you see someone who looks interesting to you, don’t hesitate to start a conversation and find out if you have any common interests. There is nothing wrong with asking people about themselves to determine if there are enough similar interests to warrant a follow-up conversation.
Search for interest groups in your area as a starting point for conversations. Once a friendship is started, you have to work to maintain it. Sometimes that means creatively fitting friends into openings in your schedule. If exercise is important to you and a friend, try doing an exercise class with your friend or scheduling regular walks where you can catch up while exercising.
Maybe you enjoy relaxing at a salon or spa and have a friend who would also enjoy an opportunity to relax while checking in on each others’ lives. We often underestimate the value of connectedness but friendships increase our sense of belonging and prevent isolation and loneliness, so be intentional about finding and maintaining friendships.
This Women’s History Month take time to celebrate the contributions of women through engaging with friends, speaking your truth and appreciating your own value and worth.
To get scheduled with Rachel March and explore more about your own internal power or capacity for finding and building connection with others, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get scheduled.