Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent passing sent off a plethora of highest regard for the legacy she left behind for getting women a voice at the table. Ruth was a sincere and devote champion for all women and stood firm in her convictions.
So, I have dug into what made RBG such a trailblazer for women. And if you read her career path – she really was remarkable.
Most young women have this tremendous desire to be liked. They work tirelessly with the intent to get people to like them. While Ruth at some point in her life probably felt the same way about wanting to be liked, she held true to her values, despite the fact that indeed, she was probably not liked by many, due to her staunch beliefs and convictions and her relentless pursuit to make things happen.
As most women mature, we move past that young woman desire to be liked by everyone and hope that we can earn respect. Ruth’s life ended with the utmost of respect, but again, because of her strong convictions and beliefs that women deserved to be in the room where it happens, she allowed herself to become a target for those who disagreed and certainly not be respected by many for her convictions – especially at the time in our history when she was the most vocal. Yet still, she held firm.
Which gets me to the point of what made Ruth such a trailblazer. Ruth neither sought to please everyone, nor did she just seek respect within her craft. Ruth sought to transform a society, to leave a legacy based on her convictions that women have a voice and one that matters. And because she put all her personal cares aside – she was successful and left an amazing legacy.
So, think about that from the lens of where you are today. I read on social media almost daily about individual women’s efforts to be liked, where being a “people-pleaser” is most high on their list. They expose the lack of self-confidence they are experiencing based on some interaction that somehow made them feel less comfortable in their own skin. And more often than not, its jealousy that began the uncomfortable exchange, instead of allowing the person to enjoy something of which they should be proud.
This fact, women bringing down other women, is one of the most pervasive reasons why careers get stalled. They focus on all the wrong things – trying to be liked, trying to earn respect – instead of focusing on the work to be done and the conviction to stand firm and clear in thought and direction instead of getting caught in the pettiness of a “cat fight”. Can you even fathom RBG in a cat fight? I think not. When I look at the successful women I know and admire, they all are successful because they rose above the noise to a place of conviction and focus.
I’ll be honest, it’s the main reason why I chose Construction as my desk specialty years ago. I had worked in a women’s world for nine years. I flew around the US and for a number of years really loved my job. But the more successful I became, the more the claws came out, and the less I enjoyed the interaction with my fellow district managers. Since we only were together four times a year, it was easier for me to hold my conviction and stay focused on my goals. But I can’t imagine what it would have been like had we been together every day – I am certain the successes I had would have been diminished by the interaction from people less successful tearing me down. Why I love construction is the advantage that it is male dominated. When was the last time you heard a man talking at the water cooler about someone not “liking” them? Frankly my dear, they don’t give a damn.
This article is not to bash women – that would be silly, I am one. But there is an awareness I am certain RBG would want us to understand – and that is TOGETHER all women can be so much more than we are individually. If we support each other, if we find and encourage our tribe; the transformation we can make in our personal lives, our workplaces and our careers can be just as meaningful as RBG’s life was. No longer would we read on social media about someone being torn down, but we would read about a transforming generation of beautiful women blossoming because one ahead of them helped them to do so.
For the record, I get it. I really used to care about what other people thought. As I matured that changed and it really did become about doing the best work possible and leaving behind a legacy that is meaningful. It’s why ERG does all the pro-bono non-profit work we do. Transforming lives, one person at a time.
What’s your legacy? What’s your why? Who is in your tribe? Who lifts you up rather than tears you down? Who helps you to be better in a loving constructive way – without the undertone of jealousy or revenge? Who really cares about you and will support you through the good and the bad?
All important questions to ask and to ponder. To quote RBG herself, “It’s a women’s right to control her own destiny, to be able to make choices, without Big Brother state telling her what she can and cannot do”.
Day One or One Day. You decide.