March 18, 2016

Why I'm Still Thinking About the Women's Leadership Forum Two Weeks Later

I’m still thinking about the Women’s Leadership Forum for a number of reasons, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. Wondering why? Great, because I’m here to tell you. Yes, you—whatever gender you are or identify with—because what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is not only for women to hear, relate to, or act on.

I could write pages and pages about all of what I took away from the Forum and what each of those things mean, but ain’t nobody got time for that, not even me. So, I’m going to focus on the concept that I’ve come to realize has penetrated my daily thoughts ever since that empowering Tuesday afternoon at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Unleash your unapologetic tenacity.  

–The McBride Sisters, Co-Founders of Truvée Wines

The McBride Sister’s notion of being “unapologetically tenacious,” infused with the teachings each and every one of the Forum’s speakers shared, has shaped the way I actively think about myself as a woman, and as a woman in business. You may be wondering what the context of “unapologetic tenacity” is, or what exactly that means, so let me sum it up with another McBride Sisters quote: “If a big old fart gets in your way, go around him, blaze your own trail, and then come back with proof [that you were right].”

Sisters

                                                                        Source: The Ad Club

In other words it means never starting your sentences in a meeting with “I’m sorry—I could be wrong—but—and we don’t have to do this—but…” and ending them with “does that make sense?” It means never obstructing a great idea from escaping the confines of your own thoughts for fear of being dismissed. It means exploring your ideas, seeing them through, and refusing to relinquish your determination in the face of rejection, because as a woman you will experience a lot of it.

As a society we have been socialized to believe that women have less to offer than men—that they are less than—and so of course we, as women, start our sentences that way and of course we don’t always share our ideas, even when we know that they’re kickass. But a pledge to unapologetic tenacity is a rejection of that socially constructed norm, a recognition that we too have every right to be unapologetically tenacious, and a stride towards breaking the cycle of socialization. Since recognizing a desire in myself to make a commitment to being unapologetically tenacious two Tuesdays ago, I’ve realized how excessively and needlessly apologetic I actually am. I’ve also realized how excessively apologetic my female co-workers, friends, and family members are, too. Amy Poehler once said “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” I’m ready to unlearn, starting with myself, and then working towards influencing change in others.

These past two weeks, I’ve actively worked on changing the way that I outwardly communicate, whether it’s the manner in which I verbally share my ideas or the words I choose to write my emails. I try to avoid the “I could be wrong, but” introduction to an idea. I now actively think to delete the “sorrys” in my emails when they are not needed and keep the word “just” out of my vocabulary altogether because, no, I am NOT “just checking in to see if you’ve had the chance to blah blah,” I AM (definitively) checking in. Almost more importantly, I’m actively working on changing the way I inwardly communicate with myself. Changing “don’t say that because there’s a chance you’re wrong” to “be confident in the larger chance that you’re right and know that the smaller chance that you’re wrong won’t kill you; it’s okay to be wrong sometimes,” which leads me to my next point, so eloquently and succinctly expressed by Reshma Saujani as she closed out the Forum:

We’ve socialized our girls to be perfect, and we’ve socialized our boys to be brave.

–Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO of Girls Who Code

As I’ve proved, there is something unacceptably damaging about that truth, which should stir in us a desire to change it. This is the part of the post where I make good on the promise I made in my introduction, claiming that what I took away from the Women’s Leadership Forum is important for everyone. This is where I ask our men to let our women be unapologetically tenacious—not at all in the sense of permission, but rather in the spirit of respect where respect is due. I ask our women to commit to it. And I ask us all to encourage our young girls to commit to it as much as we encourage our young boys to already. I promise that the world will be better for it.

Alyssa

Source: Rupi Kaur, http://on.fb.me/1Ri658m 

Your turn.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts—agree? Disagree? Let’s talk about it. As I’ve learned, it’s okay to be wrong.

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