You are standing in line at Target.
A man blatantly sees you waiting but cuts you in line.
You are alone.
How many of you would probably just say nothing and let it go?
One week later, you again are standing in line.
Same scenario – a couple sees you waiting but cuts you in line.
This time, your daughter is standing next to you.
Your daughter is watching.
Would you still let it go, or would you say something?
I would venture to say far more of us are letting it go when we are alone. We are not compelled to stand up for ourselves, but when our daughter is watching – when we are aware we are a living breathing example of what she will do when she is wronged – we step up differently. We find our voice.Ask a mother why she will speak up in scenario two, and she will say, “I do not want her to learn to let people take advantage of her.”
In an ideal world, I am telling you – believe in yourself! Stand up for yourself like you would your daughter. Be the mama bear for you that you can be for your child.
But I am not.
Frankly, it would be foolish to think that any word or inspiration can trump millions of years of evolution. Face it, we are hard wired to fight for our young – even far more than for ourselves. Believing in yourself is fantastic, but let’s work with what nature and motherhood has bred into us.
What I have learned to do is not fight that nature – I embrace it and leverage it every day at work.
Every time I walk into a presentation, a sales opportunity, a meeting, or negotiation, I woman like my daughter is watching. In this case, I use “woman” as a verb – an action that defines the strength and the courage of women in action. To me, “womaning” represents the pinnacle of the awesomeness of women in motion. Everyday, I pretend my daughter is standing in the very corner of the room watching how I handle myself. How I interact. How I woman.
When I am wronged or someone tries to take something from me at work – whether it is my job, my promotion, my sale, or credit for work I have done – I see her standing there, her big, beautiful, brown eyes staring at me thinking, “Well, mom? What are you going to do? What should I do if I were you?” No one deserves credit for her work. No one deserves her paycheck. No one deserves to take care of their company bills over her well-being. And to show her that, I will speak up for myself, inspired by the promise of the voice she will someday have for herself.
I have come to realize that if I do not assert myself, when someone is wronging me, they are wronging her. They are taking away from her – they are challenging her. And I NEVER want my daughter to think anyone is better or deserves to cut her in line.
So I woman everyday like she is watching. I step up to presentations and see her in that first row. When a man makes an inappropriate comment or demeans me with a “joke,” I don’t defend myself for me. I do it because I pretend she is in the room and hearing those words.
I do not care if you need a 5-foot cut-out cardboard of your child, a picture on your desk, or a wallpaper on your phone, but every time you doubt yourself, every time you hesitate to assert yourself because you feel intimidated or nervous at the confrontation, look at your daughter’s picture. Confrontation is hard for a lot of us – generally speaking, women are not wired to be aggressive and confrontational – and I get that, but I am telling you to do it for your daughter. I know not one of you will ever back down when asked to do something that would be right for your child.
Don’t worry about fighting or asserting yourself for YOU – do it for her, because someday she is going to have to woman herself, and just may have a cardboard cut out of another little girl she is imagining in the front row.
Jennifer Calise is a founding partner of fishbat Media, a NYC based internet marketing company, and working mother to 5 children, 5 dogs, 2 birds, 3 bunnies, and one overly aggressive lobster named Larry. In her wealth of spare time, she writes and speaks to encourage woman to leverage the unique wisdom gained in their role as mothers to become more successful in their careers, fueling the idea that we can be more because we are mothers, not despite it.