Michelle Obama recently came to Colorado and shared how to help girls and women prosper. Interviewed on stage by Dr. Lauren Casteel, CEO of the Women's Foundation of Colorado, the first black first lady in the United States spoke passionately about "Know the best is yet to come." (Editor's Note: The RadishSprouts blog and the Szczurek Success Strategies newsletter are apolitical e-newsletters that help people find what they want in work and life — the real rewards of meaning, satisfaction, results, financial gain, and more. Michelle Obama's interview addressed these latter topics.)
- Be a positive force in a girl's life. Parents as well as teachers, coaches, scout leaders, and other adult advisors make girls who they are. Male presence is really important. If the first man who loves a girl (e.g., the father) is good and provides a loving validation, it sends a message, building the girl's confidence that she can do the right things at home and in the community.
- Girls learn at their own pace. Some students need more time to learn. This may be the case with girls and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). With the right pace and tools, girls can gain the confidence to succeed in STEM and elsewhere.
- Failure and rejection are part of life. All failures are epic. How do we heal from failures? Remind people and yourself of how good you are. Celebrate the real wins in life. Think, for example, of child birth. Women are strong — women deliver children. This is something to celebrate, perhaps more than winning a basketball championship. People hide failures, such as infertility and sexual assault. Yet, we are all struggling with something. We should value and celebrate our resiliency. Accept that we are not perfect.
- Shards cut, but we will heal. When you break through the glass ceiling, the shards fall and hurt. They can cut deeply. It takes time to heal, but you will heal. Be proud of the scars. Help other women get through this. We, as women, get cuts all the time and are covered with cuts. Get up and continue to live and work. Bullying is everywhere. There is nothing wrong with you. Ask what's wrong with the people who do the bullying and cutting. Tell them to STOP.
- Create a posse of women. Women don't get through this without other women. Surround yourself with other women. Be open to new friendships. Don't travel this journey of life alone. Don't struggle alone.
- Own your power. Women and girls, stop giving your power away. We need to figure out what's going on within us that we don't protect what we value.
- Use your voice to fix things. Use your voice to make change. Especially if you are a CEO, board member, or person in a powerful position, speak up. How are the women who have access to power using their voices?
- Create a world where women and girls are safe. Women and girls are at risk and this stifles us. We are victims of sexual violence. It is everywhere. When we feel less safe, our space gets smaller. If women are to be valued, they need to be educated, have good health care, and be protected. Men, especially, you can protect women and men. Be there in a healthy way. Strong men, be that positive force for other girls and women.
- Together we can change things. Remember, people are good, honest, and kind. We are struggling to find our way, trying to grow from our mistakes and successes. We need to take responsibility. It is all a journey. It is not ONE person in office who will fix things, it is from ALL of us working for change. Yes, WE can!
To build a stronger world, we need to help women and girls prosper. Here's how. Be a positive force; create a world where women and girls are safe; use your voice to fix things; stop giving your power away; surround yourself with positive people; tell those who are bullying to stop; have confidence and know you will heal. Know the best is yet to come. Yes WE can together be the change!
Theresa M. Szczurek (www.TMSworld.com, www.RadishSystems.com, www.PursuitofPassionatePurpose.com)
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