Standing in the Shallows

Editor's note: I read this passage in Rep. Marsha Blackburn's new book, Life Equity a few months back, on a gray, cold Chicago day. But these words brightened my mood right up. In fact, this passage fired me up, made me want to shoot off firecrackers and wave a flag. But because it was a gray, cold day (and I actually have no idea how to shoot off firecrackers), I stayed put in my cozy office and instead slapped a sticky note on the book's page with a scribble: "GFL. 4th of July." Hope you enjoy this passage too. - Caryn Rivadeneira

In a day in which we face unprecedented challenges - locally, nationally, and globally - far too many prospective women leaders are standing in the shallows. They look with half-longing, half-trepidation at the deeper waters.

They long to dive into the challenges and make a difference. But holding them back are questions…

"How do I break into, or get around, the good ol' boy network?"

"Where are the mentors that can show me the way?"

"Where do I start?"

I write today because we must dive in. It's not about demanding our rights. It's about deploying our gifts. It's not about glass ceilings, quotas, and symbolic progress. It's about successfully shouldering responsibilities because we're good at it and we're needed - whether others recognize it or not - and it is vitally important.

Why? Because our nation is being robbed.

We are living at a moment of unprecedented challenges in our nation's history. Some are social. Some are economic. Others are cultural. And in each case, our nation awaits the innovative and difference-making leadership of women.

That is why it is our responsibility to accept a changing role for ourselves as new doors open; to be fluid in moving from one arena to another, always taking with us the skills we have acquired; to welcome new opportunities as they are presented to us; to acknowledge with grace, rather than embarrassment, our accomplishments successes, and victories; and to serve as guides to others who would follow in our footsteps.

Here is exciting news: there is a key truth that will unlock all of these extraordinary possibilities for you - one that forms the central message of my life and of this book.

That simple but powerful truth is this: your accumulated skills go with you. The ordinary, everyday tasks you have been performing are actually the foundation for getting you where you want to go. In even the most unglamorous roles, you have built real leadership ability that has prepared you for bigger things.

July 04, 2009 at 9:29 AM

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