This was not supposed to be today’s Learning to Lead installment. I decided to move today’s installment so I could feature some wisdom I gleaned this weekend in San Francisco while debuting the book at the Commission on Women’s annual meeting. I had the opportunity to attend the Margaret Brent Awards Luncheon honoring five groundbreaking women. In addition to some of the incredibly cool moments in the green room with these women before the lunch (getting to personally present my book to a U.S. Senator who I had interviewed), I heard powerful life stories and encouragement in their prepared remarks at the lunch.
The most memorable were Judge Gladys Kessler’s (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia). Among her accomplishments are co-founding the Women’s Legal Defense Fund and jointly founding the National Association of Women Judges. (I knew none of this as we chatted about the book before the lunch!) She shared her story and this encouragement:
I know we get tired of fighting the fight. But we have NO right to get tired.
We must keep fighting.
She made this plea in the context of continuing the fight for gender equity and fighting on behalf of underprivileged women who do not have a voice. This message of mandating that we lead because we must lead the fight to effect change for good was repeated over and over in the women I spoke with for Learning to Lead as well as the research on leadership about what fulfilled women leaders.
Leadership is hard. You have to rock the boat and create change and offer dissenting opinions at times. All that hard work pays off though when you are fighting for positive change that could impact many. Even the Bible underlines this in Luke, “To whom much is given, much shall be required.”
Sometimes when leading, it feels like an uphill battle and we want to give up. But if we have been granted with the voice and the opportunity to lead, it is our responsibility to do so and to help others. Among those I interviewed, I heard consistent messages that we must lead to improve the lives of others and join with one other to lead in the same direction:
Diane Yu, Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President for New York University – “Aspire to leadership because you can improve the situation or circumstances of many people. That’s what drives you. To make things better. To forge a path for others to follow.”
Judge Duffly, Mass. Supreme Judicial Court – “We must help each other to really amplify the voice of women across the board. Confronting obstacles along the way is easier to press on with the support of a large community of people who want to achieve the same goals.”
Judge Williams, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit – “One person can make a difference. You can impact the world. Even greater, if you are joined with others, you can REALLY make a difference. If the choice is should you lead, then you must lead because you have a responsibility to give back.”
If you are fighting the good fight, hang in there. Your leadership, and the leadership of those women today desiring to make the world a better place, will affect change. We have no right to get tired of the fight.
Be the change you want to see. Ghandi
I have fought the good fight,I have finished the race,I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4