The last few weeks have brought up some interesting conversations around our house and among our group of friends and family, everything from gun control to holiday attire. And what we have decided is that we are no further along in solving the issue of mass shootings as we are packed for our upcoming holiday.
In the midst of looking at weather patterns for our travel dates and researching facts and figures related to the ongoing gun debate, a friend called wanting to discuss business. It was a welcome reprieve.
That conversation got me thinking about women and how we engage with one another. More specifically, women who actually support one another.
I am not referring to some meme or mantra spewed off with little to no substance behind it. I am talking about women who truly lift one another up. Walking the walk. Talking the talk.
My friend wanted to download about a situation she had recently encountered where someone had purposely sabotaged a project she was working on. The intent behind this person doing so was to make themselves look better in hopes of landing this client over my friend. The whole situation left me with a knot in my stomach as I am a firm believer that in business you must have integrity, because if you have none, you will soon find that you also have no business.
But, this particular situation read more like a page out of Strange Case, a Jekyll and Hyde routine. One minute this person was calling my friend to act one way, all the while stabbing her in the back with the proverbial knife. A hug extended from one arm, a dagger in the other.
I must admit; this type of behavior baffles me. Some of the greatest advocates in my career have come from the relationships I forged with other amazing women. The same women who are now some of my dearest friends and have laughed with me, cried with me and helped hold me together when life around me was falling apart. Women who truly support and encourage one another, discussing issues that only other women can understand – particularly juggling family and a career. Add a little wine to those discussions, over a few bottles and a few hours, a group of women can solve next to every world problem imaginable.
Particularly in the last year as I have set out on new beginnings and find myself navigating through the territory of launching my own business, the women in my life have served as a sounding board, partners, and even as devil’s advocate when necessary.
But, not all women are like that. In fact, I have found plenty throughout my lifetime who are downright mean to one another. 40 + years of life will tell you those behaviors usually stem from insecurities. It is much easier to navigate through now then it was a few decades ago. But even with that in mind, I really want to get to the heart of this issue because I feel it is tremendously important.
I remember someone once saying to me; there will always be someone prettier, someone smarter, someone more successful. Learn from them. You might be that person for someone else. It is important to celebrate your own amazing qualities, especially while admiring others for the things you see in them that you wish you had more of in your own life – doing so through a supportive lens as opposed to envy.
I tend to think if you are surrounded by a group of people who challenge you to be better, both in business and in life, you will all benefit from those relationships because essentially you are bringing out the best versions of each of you.
So why is it when some women feel threatened the default is to allow those insecurities to dictate their actions? Much like the situation my friend just encountered.
We have all been there. Every single one of us.
In elementary school, there was a group of girls who would pick one girl each month. Everyone knew that when it was your month, you became the target of the insults. When it was “my month,” I would count the minutes until the clock struck 3PM. I dashed out of school and was happy to be home for the night, away from it all. I cannot even begin to imagine what young people go through now with social media – no safe space to shut it all off and the cruelty is far worse as cowards sit behind the anonymity of a computer screen. Back then, it was over and done with like some bizarre rite of passage.
But, my personal experience extends far beyond the halls of elementary school, as I am sure is the same for most of us. I would like to think these behaviors would be isolated to adolescence, but the reality is that they often bleed over into adulthood. Insecurities left unchecked.
Through the years, I have been intentional about the people I choose to have in my life. As we grow and our experiences begin to shape and mold us, we start to see ourselves with much clearer vision. We understand who we are and we accept who we are. With that clarity comes the ability to surround yourself with like-minded people, identifying those who are truly supportive. That maturity also allows you the ability to let go of relationships and people who may not have your best interest at heart.
This is why our friendships become invaluable as we get older – they are no longer weighted on surface level ideals, they are a reflection of who we are.
It is so important for women to have other women in their lives – as friends, as mentors, as life coaches, as mothers, as career women. In every aspect of life. Lifting you up.
Unfortunately, there will always be people who allow their insecurities to hold them back.
If you find yourself navigating through relationships that leave you feeling depleted and empty, I would encourage you to rise above and really examine if those relationships are worth your time and effort.
On each of our respective paths, we have likely encountered a time when a friendship has ended. It happens. And, for a variety of reasons. But, it is important to remember to surround yourself with people who challenge you to be your best self. Who engage you in positive ways
How are the people in your life encouraging you to grow? And what are you doing to encourage the same for them?
Whether it is your best friend from college who you bonded with over silly dance moves and whipping shitties in frozen parking lots, the former colleague you discuss business, marriage, parenting and life with over weekly wine calls or your gay best friend and former beauty queen southern belle sister from another mister who send maniacal text messages at all hours of the night. Cherish the people in your life who bring out the best version of you.
This week let’s all challenge ourselves to help bring out the best in others. If someone has done a great job in their professional life, tell them. If someone is wearing an outfit you absolutely love, tell them. If someone is doing an amazing job as a parent, tell them.
It will not only change their life, but your own.
Cheers to a new week!