5 Ways Women Can Even the Playing Field — it’s Time to Stop Playing Nice and Start Playing Smart
I’m impatient. I always have been. As a matter of fact, when I was being born, I couldn’t wait until my body turned around so I could come out head first down the birth canal like you’re supposed to. I came out arm first, waving at everyone because I was in such a hurry. My mother did not appreciate the C-section that little move required.
Women are taught to be patient and not rock the boat. Don’t upset anyone and if you’re lucky you’ll get your turn. I’m waving the brown flag of B.S. on that rule. Being impatient gets things done. There is a right time and place to let your patience off its leash. If you want to get ahead you need to make things happen and you can’t make things happen if you’re not getting things done.
Just because you’re impatient does not mean you have to be nasty or rude. You can successfully move things along and still be considerate and courteous. Of course, there will be times you might have to raise your voice to make yourself heard, just remember there is a human on the other side of your words and you should always keep that in mind.
Being impatient has also made me feisty. I always believed that if someone else could do something, then so could I. I have always accomplished what I set my mind to, sometimes because I had no other way to get things done, and other times because I just couldn’t wait. The first memory I have of being feisty and thinking I could do anything I set my mind to is when I was 10.
My father bought me my first stereo. Back then the speakers were huge with lots of wires and lots of directions to go with them. It was such a cool gift and I was so excited to play my records (yes, those big, round, vinyl things) and I asked my father to set it up for me. He said he was too busy (lazy) and would get to it as soon as he could. But me being impatient I figured I didn’t need him to do it, I could figure it out on my own. How hard could it be? So I pulled the turntable and the speakers out of the box with all the wires and started hooking things together.
I was so proud of myself when I got the whole system hooked up. I didn’t tell my dad, because I wanted him to walk in and hear the stereo playing and be really proud of me.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the speakers had to be wired a certain way and of course, because I was impatient, I didn’t think I needed to actually read the instructions. Wouldn’t you know, I wired the speakers wrong, and when I turned the system on, I blew out the speakers. Another Lucy moment. The sound was all crackly and garbled and I knew I’d screwed it up. Oopsie!
I think most kids right there would have run and hid and never tried that again, but I was relentless. I wanted to learn how to wire those speakers, so I unplugged everything and told my father that I had hooked everything up but something was wrong with the speakers, so he came in and took over. I watched him wire the speakers correctly, and yep, sure enough, they were bad. He took them back and got new ones that I then wired correctly.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
That was the first time I remember stepping outside my comfort zone and stretching my “OMG, I can do this” muscle. It opened up so many opportunities for me as a young girl, because I realized I didn’t need someone’s permission or approval. If there was something I wanted to do, I did it. Of course, I was likely to make more mistakes, but that’s part of the process.
I saw the world around me from a new and powerful position, although at that time I didn’t understand it that way. I just knew I was no longer limited by having to wait for someone to do something for me. At that young age I was awakened to the understanding that if I saw something I wanted to accomplish I could take a piece of that knowledge and understanding for myself, by myself. From that experimentation with my stereo, I learned I was capable, maybe not always knowledgeable, of accomplishing whatever I set my mind to. It’s called grit.
Determination and Focus Required
That experience taught me that if I wanted something, I could work to achieve it, even if it was something I knew nothing about, which is pretty much everything you try for the first time. I learned not to be afraid of what I didn’t know and to not let a little thing like having no clue about something keep me from getting what I wanted.
I was so proud of myself, and that’s an amazing thing for a kid to feel, especially a little girl. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way, and I have learned more from my failures than I ever have from my successes. And besides, when you make so many bonehead moves like I have, they make you much more entertaining at a cocktail party!
Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
It is critical that children be allowed to fail and not given a false sense of accomplishment for doing nothing. I failed, of course I did. When you step outside your comfort zone you’re going to fail, you’re going to fall down, you’re going to screw up, and you may even get hurt, but again, you’re most likely not going to die. You cannot die of embarrassment, no matter what anyone says. It’s called life, and it happens to everyone. The difference is, those with grit never let the potential to make a mistake stop them from trying. Failure is not a fatal flaw, it’s just another step to success. There have been so many times when I’ve felt anxious or timid or just plain scared that I physically had to grit my teeth and tell myself, “You got this. You can do this.” And I do it.
You will screw up, you will fail many times, and you’ll do some really stupid things. The point of all of those experiences is to learn from your mistakes, grow, and make even better ones next time. And trust me, there will be a next time! Just please make sure someone has the video rolling.
Enjoy the journey. It’s the best medicine you have for the common life.