a shout out

March 8th is International Women’s Day! You may not have known that. It is not a high-profile holiday here in the US, maybe it is where you live.

You may not have planned any extra activities or special menu items for the day. If you forgot to invite your family and friends over for the celebration, that’s OK. I thought we could celebrate here!

shouting-for-joy

Since living almost 20 years in Latin America, I know that you do not need an official reason to have a party. It can always be fiesta time! When I read that March 8th is International Women’s Day, I immediately began to have a party in my heart as I reflected on the amazing women who have been on my life journey with me.

I began thinking about family first… My brave Mom who is battling cancer and just lost her husband but continues on loving me and others. My sisters who have each fought their own personal battles through the years, but are growing and learning and giving sacrificially to others. My daughters who make me so proud as they become thoughtful, generous, sensitive, creative, strong, caring women.

shout Newsbie

I could never list all the special women who have been friends, coaches, mentors, and inspirational examples for me, but as their faces flashed through my mind, I remember life-changing conversations and experiences together, and my soul feels refreshed and ready for any challenge life may bring.

Friends also came to mind… friends from all stages of life and all parts of the globe. How they have brought laughter, adventure, comfort and challenge to my world! We have talked for hours, worked side by side on eternally valued projects, and cried and hugged through pain. I am a better person because of their investment in my life.

Jimmy Jack Kane / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I thought, too, of the women I have never met, but I have read about them or read their books or blogs. Women leaders and those who have suffered great tragedies. Women who advocate for women to find their place in powerful divine alliance with men for good and change and hope in our world.

And speaking of men, I cannot forget to mention the ones who have believed in me, sponsored me, and always ensured that I found the stairs to the unique platform God designed for me. My incredible husband, Steve, is the first one on this list.

I have written about some of these special people through the years, but I can never do them all justice. Their influence is engraved in my mind, heart, and soul. So this week, I am taking advantage of International Women’s Day to give a shout out to these special ones. I am so grateful for paths that crossed and lives that intersected.

Will you join my fiesta? Who would you like to honor on this International Women’s Day? Name your special people in the comments… I’d love to celebrate with you!

finding your voice

find your voice

“Cover bands don’t change the world –
you need to find your unique voice if you want to thrive.”
~ Accidental Creative

I am part of an exciting process at work that is looking for ways to help leaders find their voice and make a significant contribution through their lives. This is one of my heart passions and a fitting application for my 2014 word – fulfill. I believe that we are each created with incredible value, opportunity and responsibility to make a positive contribution in our world.

We can only do this if we are at peace with who we are – not constantly comparing with others or imitating someone else – and when we courageously speak out and step up for what we believe.

“Learn what taps your talents and fuels your passion
– that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.”
~ Steven Covey

Finding your voice is about more than mere words. Steven Covey explains that Voice is the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: our body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Accidental Creative put together a great list of questions to help each person discover their Voice. I’ve changed them just a bit. I’ve been thinking about these:

1. What kinds of situations “fire you up” or make you “pound the table”? What evokes compassionate anger in you or makes you want to intervene to correct a wrong?

2. What makes you cry?

3. What have you mastered? What can you do well, without effort, without thinking? What skills and abilities would you like to use more?

4. What gives you hope? What vision do you have for your future and the future of others?

5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What did you dream of doing?

6. If you had all the time and money in the world – no limitations – what would you do?

7. What do you love doing? What makes you come alive? What makes you excited and motivated? 

8. Where can you start today? What platform do you already have? 

9.  What need can you serve? What change would you like to see in the world?

10. If you had one day left, how would you spend it?

You are important. You are needed. Your contribution is valuable. Find your voice… and then help someone else find theirs!

What have you been created to do? What is your Voice?

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Great resources!

Steven Covey’s post on Four Steps to Finding your Voice

Accidental Creative’s post on Ten Questions that will Help You Find Your Voice

do nice girls finish last?

Lean InI am making my way through Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and chapter three made me stop and think a bit. The chapter is called “Success and Likeability”, and Sandberg starts out with a Harvard Business School case study based on the experience of an entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. Sandberg writes:

The case described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality… and vast personal and professional network [that] included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector”. [The professors] assigned half of the students to read Heidi’s story and gave the other half the same story with just one difference – they changed the name “Heidi” to “Howard”.

[The Professors] then polled the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent… their accomplishments were completely identical. Yet while students respected both Heidi and Howard, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” The same data with a single difference – gender – created vastly different impressions.¹ (emphasis mine)

Sandberg argues that the case study further proves research that,”When a man is successful, he is liked by both men and women. When a woman is successful, people of both genders like her less.”² Sandberg explains that from early on, girls learn that intelligence and success are not the path to popularity. In addition, socially acceptable behavior allows men to claim credit for achievements and assertively negotiate for higher salary, whereas a woman is perceived as arrogant and self-serving if she does the same. Women are expected to help without reward, and care and advocate for others.

The ultimate goal is to eventually eliminate different attitudes and treatment based on stereotypes, but until then Sandberg offers a few suggestions for women. I’ve re-written them in my own words here:

1. Pay the price – Women need to accept that there will be unfair biases and criticism. Sandberg suggests that we allow ourselves to feel and work through the emotions generated by the criticism, but then move on and do our job.

2. Play to your strengths – Some of the common “nice” characteristics ascribed to women – caring, communication, community – greatly improve teamwork. As women smile and appreciate others – while focusing on the task – productivity increases.

3. Position yourself communally – Women will have more success in negotiations when they use “we” vocabulary as context for their requests. Petitions couched in common interests and concern for the common good are more readily accepted from women than those that appear self-centered or self-promoting.

4. Purpose to become comfortable with power – It will take concentrated effort to change mindsets and perspectives based on years of habit and feedback, but as women work to become more comfortable with their power, they will also lean in with greater confidence.

Have you ever struggled with the “nice” girl dilemma? What do you think of Sheryl Sandberg’s tips for overcoming that stereotype?

For my men readers… what do you think? Are women held to a different standard than men?

______________________

¹ Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In. Chapter 3, para. 2-3. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

² Ibid. Chapter 3, para. 4.