“Here’s to strong wo/men.
May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
P 2/3 May we be them.
“Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williamson
It takes courage, grit and determination to pop our heads up above the parapet. To be strong. To put ourselves in a place where we risk getting shot at.
I know my biggest regrets in life are when I neglected to act. When I didn’t do what I said I would. When I let someone down. When I wasn’t brave enough to trust I could cope with a new challenge, and so I turned away or turned it down. Got too busy doing something safe so I could avoid the opportunity to be strong. To face the challenge. To grow.
Not good. I don’t want any more of those regrets.
Strength as knowing self
“Seek first to understand yourself, then to be understood” Stephen Covey
In understanding the barriers (and accelerators) to being strong, I wonder if this is one of the biggest. It is harder to be strong if we don’t first understand our own strengths and weaknesses.
We need to understand ourselves to know what we actually stand for.
We can then stand firm in our beliefs.
We can then act in alignment with our values.
Choosing who and what we will engage with.
As we know ourselves, we can recognise when we need time out to recharge, and we can have the strength to take it.
Strength as resilience
“When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had” A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
We talk about the importance of resilience, so to gain resilience we need to know what falling and failing feels like.
Nothing rivals pain as a teacher. Being told no. Having doors closed in your hopeful face. Falling short of where you hoped to be.
It doesn’t feel that great. We don’t want to repeat that.
And so we learn and we regroup and we get back up. We reflect, adjust and try again. We grow in resilience, in determination, so we gain strength.
Strength as courage
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but our response to it.” Diane Dreher
We show strength as courage by stepping up to do what’s right.
Sometimes our home, our workplace, our world needs our courage; our little courage or big courage. Each time we stick our necks out involves courage. When we think of those we deeply admire, they have often gained our admiration through their acts of courage.
This can be as simple as
offering our honesty when someone asks our opinion
saying something that deflates an escalating situation
speaking up when we disagree
As psychologist Jerry Lynch says: “Know that a full, enjoyable, exciting life, one where you push the limits of your personal, physical and inner potential will always include opportunities for thousands of risks which require you to be courageous. Great performers have the fear of failing like everyone else yet go ahead anyway because they have the courage to follow their heart”.
Strength as failure
“Embrace error: create an atmosphere in which prudent risk taking is strongly encouraged.” Warren G. Bennis
It may seem counter intuitive, but we can gain strength by risking failure. And by showing that there is life after failure.
As parents, we want the best for our children. And as tough as it is, we need to let them experience failure. They need to know they can survive failure.
In business, it is heartening to see more evidence of organisations with strong work cultures providing the platform for their team to make mistakes, nurturing their employees to fail safely, taking learning from these ‘errors’ in order to iterate and be better than before. To gain strength through failure.
Strength as humility
“We do not need to be heroes to save the world; all we need is a little humility…”
Modelling strength can be showing the humility to admit we were wrong, to admit we don’t know the answer, to seek help from others. Demonstrating we are still willing to learn.
Doing so is a key part of growth. Both personal growth and organisational growth.
Our world is increasingly complex and complicated. Some of the top CEO’s recognise the wisdom in acknowledging their comparative ‘limitations’.
There is little to be gained from employing your best candidates then in consistently acting alone and ignoring or deriding those on the team. It’s down-right ignorant and counter-productive to not tap into their expertise. Guess what these potential filled talents will do if they’re not being challenged and utilised? They’ll leave, potentially to strengthen your competition.
Strength as humility can be standing back and deflecting the glory to others who were involved in the win.
Strength as humility can be seeking and taking on board feedback from people we trust.
Strength as discipline
“Champions do extra” Brad Thorne
Disciplined execution is taking the deliberate, incremental steps to improve. Doing the hard yards. We all stuff up, make mistakes, show our weaknesses. This can be fodder for a self-fulfilling failure mentality (I’m not good enough so I may as well just quit) or a painful powerful lesson in what we never want to repeat.
It is working through the hard times. Doing the extra.
Strength as discipline is honouring the commitment made, and seeing it through to completion.
Strength as kindness
“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution” Kahlil Gabran
Strength as kindness can be deliberately putting others before ourselves. Holding in our own pain for someone who needs us more. Holding our tongue. Choosing kind words. Consciously using that time between action and reaction to respond with kindness.
It can make all the difference to someone’s day (including our own) when we respond with kindness.
Strength as kindness can be going out of our way to explain something patiently, to notice a workmate needs a hand, to welcome the newcomer.
Strength as kindness can be giving permission to forgive both others and ourselves, and to move on.
Strength as support
“The only time you should look down at someone is when you are helping them up” Jesse Jackson
I figure we are pretty blessed to live in this beautiful flawed world. We are in the enviable position of being able to share our strength with others. To be strong for someone else, especially for those whose strength is compromised. To lend a hand, offer our listening ears because we can.
There is wonderful security in the knowledge that someone has our back. We can offer that for others. We can offer our strength as support.
Strength to face the fear
One of my favourite quotes comes from Sheryl Sandberg (love her ‘Lean In’ book) when she challenges me with “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
That quote absolutely spoke to me.
As a natural introvert, writing my first blog took literally weeks, I procrastinated something wicked. Putting off the day when I had to push the ‘publish’ button. Terrifying. But, hey, the sky hasn’t fallen and people have been very kind with their comments.
As it turns out, unsurprisingly, you’re all pretty busy with your own lives. Since that first time, every time I put my thoughts out into the universe it really is just a little bit less scary.
Is there something you’ve been putting off that you know needs addressing? That you’re afraid to do?
Is it holding you back?
Is it time to get it over with so you can move on?
Strength – whether it is little steps, big steps, kindness in the face of oppression, small acts, big acts, courage to be the change. To be someone somebody looks up to, to be somebody who gives another a chance. To stand up and be counted. To get back up, to keep moving, to keep trusting, to keep learning, to keep growing.
Here's to strong wo/men
May we be them.
Let's get stronger.
Thank you for your time
Feel free to share
FUSE Strategy - Light it up!
If you'd like help with any of the above; leadership strengthening, strategy, transformation, culture improvement, any positive change initiative give me a call. I'd love to hear from you.
Leigh 027 669 1243
With thanks to:
All the strong who continually inspire
Diane Dreher – The Tao of Personal Leadership
Jerry Lynch - http://www.wayofchampions.com/articles-by-jerry-lynch/the-art-of-being-courageous.html