My girlfriend is so pumped to go to the Women’s March in Washington this weekend and said to me “Meet me there, please!!!”. Unfortunately, I have commitments that prevent me from participating (so BUMMED!!!) but it made me think about how this march is BIGGER than just one day. The women in my life lift me up, give me hope, and make me laugh (and cry). But most importantly, it’s this incredible sense of strength that I feel when I am surrounded by the women I LOVE. I call it Girl Power!!! When you think of the woman or women in your life that give you girl power, who comes to mind? Is it your mom, sister, friend, boss, mentor, or some other woman that has strengthened you. As I reflect on the impact the women in my life have had over the years, there are some very powerful themes and messages I want to share with you.
My mom was a 5 foot-ish (I rounded up!) superwoman. She was a math teacher and her students feared her. She was tough, smart, and direct (ok- in your face). The story that best describes her comes from her days as a summer school teacher (which she did for extra money). The kids were disengaged, disrespectful and always got into trouble. So, she worked them mentally and physically for the 6 hours she had them. She gave them a huge packet of math worksheets from algebra to geometry. At the hottest point of the day, she made them jog/walk around the track for 1 hour (mom walked with the students too!). They complained but they ALL did it together. If one of the students sat down, she would make everyone stop and wait. If the student didn’t get up within her time limit, she would add 5 minutes, using her stopwatch. It was during time on the track that my mom drove her message home, “Summer school is YOUR choice; YOU are here because of your bad choices.” By the end of the 6 weeks, the students all respected her, listened to her and even loved her. This was not only my mom’s teaching style but also her parenting style – ‘tough love’. She was a tough mom but you always knew how much she loved you.
I still carry forward her life lessons today. You always work hard. The only person you can count on is yourself. Do onto others as you would have them do unto you
Thanks, Mom, for giving me the values of hard work, grit, and self-reliance.
Throughout my life, my friends have been a source of strength, support and love. I have been very fortunate to have deep friendships throughout every major stage of my life.
My High School Friends – When I was a teenager, my high school girlfriends and I were inseparable. If we weren’t together, we were on the phone. We broke rules together, such as sneaking out of the house at night to go to parties and skipping school to go to the beach (I only got caught once!). They taught me that ‘experiential’ learning is just as important as classroom learning.
My College Friends – In college, I had a similar set of strong, deeply connected friends. We shared our thoughts on who we are and who we are striving to be, in addition to having the best time of our lives. To this day, we devote one weekend a year to reconnecting and maintaining our friendships. I have learned that it doesn’t matter how much time or distance is between us, deep bonds can’t be broken.
My ‘Mom’ Friends – I don’t think I would have survived raising 3 kids as a working mom without my ‘mom’ friends. We would share our insecurities, faults and fears regarding our children, marriage and life. Of course, we would have fun too! Our once/week GNO (girls night out) to have a few drinks, make fun of ourselves and laugh was essential in maintaining sanity. I learned that the more real you can be, the less alone you feel.
My Women Leaders
Throughout my career, I have been so fortunate to have three incredible role models that shaped me into the woman leader I am today.
The ‘You can do it ALL” Leader – Lisa, my first manager ever, taught me that I can have it ALL in the way I want it!! Until I met Lisa, I thought you had to ‘take a break’ when starting a family. She was the first woman manager back in the early 90s that was full time but worked from home 3 days a week when her kids were small. Dial up (internet) just started and was unstable but she didn’t let it stop her. We conferenced her in meetings. We called her anytime with problems. She always made herself available. Lisa kicked ass, developed her people and delivered!
The ‘Break the Rules’ Leader – Cathy, another great leader I was fortunate to work with, taught me that rules were bendable ‘guidelines’ – LOL!!! If Cathy believed in something, she just did it and asked for forgiveness later. She was all about doing GREAT work and doing it quickly. At that time, we didn’t have a system for tracking projects and it was taking too long to jump through all the ‘process’ hoops to have one built. So, she just built it. By the time anyone realized it, the solution was already in place and working. The funny thing is that we used the simple system for over 15 years. She was totally ahead of her time!!
The ‘Inspirational’ Leader – Gina, my current leader, sees the future, paints it with words so you can see it, and then brings you on that journey with her. Be Bold. Be the Change. Be ALL IN all the time. These are the values that guide her and inspired an entire organization to follow. Gina unleashed superpowers that I didn’t even know I had. She showed me how I can use my strengths to be bolder and bigger than I thought possible. Gina taught me the real meaning of leadership and the importance of paying it forward.
Watching Kelsey grow up and figure out her superpowers is like taking a giant step back in time. She seems to have that same doubting inner voice that I had (ok-have) but you would never know from her tough exterior. She is extremely extroverted, positive and funny. She has this incredible amount of street smarts, always anticipating what is happening around her. She also knows what she wants and she goes for it with this unwavering determination. As she is now in college, our relationship has blossomed into a deep friendship. She face-times me to share her experiences, her problems and her funny stories. She is teaching me the power of listening and patience (still working on both!).
These are just a few ‘very’ short stories of women that have made me stronger, better, and more fulfilled, essentially more powerful!! I have always valued the gift of great friendships but, until recently, I never thought about it in terms of giving and receiving power. I just hope that I have been able to do the same for them.
Thank you to all the super women who have shaped me into the super woman that I am today. Have you thanked a super woman today???