September 20, 2019
“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
On a flight to San Francisco, I watched “On the Basis of Sex”, the movie on the early life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As we are approaching the 100th anniversary of women’s rights to vote and just passed the 55th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Act banning employment discrimination on the basis of sex, it is important to reflect on the progression of women in business.
As a woman, I never take for granted the time I live and the opportunities that I have to make an impact on a world that 100 years ago saw us as property. Being a woman in business is most definitely not without its challenges, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Women in business are just disguised superheroes. As a working mom, I am tasked with 500 things to do each day, but as a woman, I am really good at prioritizing, multitasking, and making lots of lists. Despite having to do all the things, I am honored to be an example to other women pursuing business success. I do what I do to show my daughter that if business is what she wants to pursue, she is fully capable and 100% entitled to achieve success.
For the women out there reading this, particularly working moms, I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned to thrive in the workplace.
Lesson 1: You are fully capable of doing ANYTHING that you set your mind to within reason.
Why did I say within reason? Well, because honestly, we aren’t good at everything, no matter how hard we try. I will never be a professional basketball player, partially because I don’t like basketball, but also because I’m 5’5” and entirely uncoordinated. That is not to say I can’t try! But with limited time and resources, it is important to play to your strengths, especially as a woman, when our plate is fuller than most. Within your own desire zone, you can do anything with a little hard work and maybe additional training. To illustrate this, I will tell a story of my own experience. I love beautiful slide decks, but the creative and visual side of my brain is not my strongest. I didn’t want what I knew was just a lack of knowledge to hold me back, so I researched and studied other people’s decks. Eventually, over time, I improved my own skills building presentations, and continue to improve today. Just because I am not the most creative, doesn’t mean that is a skill I cannot learn. As Marie Forleo says, “everything is figureoutable”, within reason.
Lesson 2: The hours will be long, but the rewards will be great
It is an unfortunate fact of life, but you have to put in the hours to see success. You will put in more hours both inside and outside the office to balance the demands of home-life and work-life, and that is okay. Doctor’s appointments, home repairs, and parent-teacher conferences will come up that might require you to wake up an hour early, work after your kids go to bed, or work during naps. Your flexibility and ability to multitask will be your greatest asset. You can create infinite success for yourself in the extra effort you put in outside of working hours, so keep up the hustle!
Lesson 3: Don’t sacrifice yourself.
In contrast to the second lesson, I want to warn you not to get trapped in the rat race and consumed with trying to prove yourself. Work the extra hours, but also take the time to disconnect and be with your family at night and on weekends. Take a vacation, take a leave, and don’t lose yourself on your climb to the top. When you are at the end of your life, you will not be thinking about how much success you obtained, but how worthwhile what you accomplished was, and the impact that you made on your family, friends, and colleagues.
Lesson 4: You have unique gifts that no one else has, let them shine
The qualities you bring to the working world are unique; DO NOT discredit them. Changing who you are to match what you perceive is not doing your gifts justice. As I mentioned, you are capable of doing so many things and doing them well. You think creatively, you lean into intuition, you take risks, and you problem solve. You also are deeply compassionate and understanding which serves your employees, customers, and community. Being a woman is business is no longer seen as a stigma, YOU ARE A SUPERWOMAN, so let your cape fly!