“It’s sometimes surprising to discover the cumulative progress women have made in recent times. Just think. What field has not been enriched by females – in art, theatre, finance, politics, law, entrepreneurship, science? The list is as impressive as it is enlightening. To realize that we are no longer pioneers. The startling exception. The first to fly, or swim, or sail prodigious distances in bad weather. No longer the first to be elected, the first to discover cures in medicine, or the first to untangle problems in science, math or physics. No. We are multitudes, and society is clearly the better for our peaceful invasion. There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, passion, and the steely intelligence of women.” – Toni Morrison
No matter what your political views are, the question of women in power has been brought to the international stage during this election season in the U.S. Below are insights from six women driven by their inner strength, passion, and drive to make a difference. Their examples can serve to motivate both women and men to set aside their fears and become better versions of themselves.
1. Alicia Keyes, 15-time Grammy award winner
Her experience: Strong women like my mother showed me that you can claim what you want out of your life. I loved the concept of rebel – of challenging the mainstay.
Her advice: When you erase fear from your vocabulary, you can’t fail.
2. Aimee Mullins, Record-breaker at the Paralympic Games in 1996 and fashion model
Her experience: I am a double amputee, but whether or not I am disabled is a subjective opinion. I determine what I am capable of doing.
Her advice: Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.
3. Gloria Allred, Discrimination attorney and feminist lawyer
Her experience: In civil rights, we are not politicians, but attorneys. What we seek is often not popular at the moment, but later it is. I have a duty to help victims win change.
Her advice: If people call you names, see that as a victory, because you know they don’t have a good argument on the merits.
4. Shonda Rhimes, Producer of 3 Emmy-nominated shows and author of The Year of Yes
Her experience: I was dictating stories into a tape recorder when I was 3 years old. After college, I moved into my sister’s basement and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. There was no plan. It was both breathtaking and terrifying.
Her advice: Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
5. Sarah Blakely, American businesswoman and founder of Spanx.
Her experience: I had $5,000 in savings, an idea, and some cellulite. The moment you have an idea, that is when it’s very vulnerable. It’s also the moment that we want to turn to a friend, a co-worker, a husband or wife, and share it. And out of love and concern, million dollar ideas get squashed.
Her advice: Be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is that you become memorable.
6. Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State
Her experience: When I became Secretary of State, the challenge was not so much how foreign leaders would regard me. They knew that I represented the United States (and I arrived in a big plane). In some ways, I had more problems with the men in our own government.
Her advice: It’s a wonderful time of opportunity, but don’t forget how hard it’s been for women. We need to respect each other, and we need to help each other.
Question: What women have inspired you to become a better version of yourself?
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