Sit down and ask yourself, ‘What is the most important thing to me?’ What grosses me out the most? What makes me the most upset — is it healthcare? Is it so many people being hungry in our culture? Is it sexual abuse? Mix that with doing something you love, something you could keep doing forever and ever. For me it was ending violence against women, and I mixed it with music. And I’ve had a 25-year career. So that’s my advice: Find something you really care about and mix that with something you love doing.
Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.
Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.
This is the season when a clutch of successful women — who have it all — give speeches to women like you and say, to be perfectly honest, you can’t have it all. Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.
My hope for the future, not just in the music industry, but in every young girl I meet, is that they all realize their worth and ask for it.
I love women who are bosses and who don’t constantly worry about what their employees think of them. I love women who don’t ask, “Is that OK?” after everything they say. I love when women are courageous in the face of unthinkable circumstances, like my mother when she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Or like Gabrielle Giffords writing editorials for the New York Times about the cowardice of Congress regarding gun laws and using phrases like “mark my words” like she is Clint Eastwood. How many women say stuff like that?
To follow your life’s guidance, you may have to reassign some seemingly important things to ‘unimportant.’ If you believe that pleasing your horrible boss or having a spotless clean house is a higher priority than playing with your children or sleeping off the flu, be prepared for a long and strenuous battle against destiny.
I still go to a party and say something embarrassing to someone, and then write them a weird e-mail about it the next day, and then write them a text because I think they didn’t get the e-mail. No matter what happens with your level of success, you still have to deal with all the baggage that is yourself.
Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.
MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.
Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that- and I’ll learn by doing it.
The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
Don’t ever confuse the two, your life and your work. That’s what I have to say. The second is only a part of the first…There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul…People don’t talk about the soul very much anymore. It’s so much easier to write a résumé than to craft a spirit. But a résumé is cold comfort on a winter night, or when you’re sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you’ve gotten back the chest X ray and it doesn’t look so good, or when the doctor writes “prognosis, poor.”
I used to dream about one day being at Wimbledon. I could taste the strawberries and cream I could see myself curtseying there at center court. And I didn’t make it there, obviously, as a tennis player, but let me tell you even though I had a mic in my hand instead of a tennis racket for ESPN when I went to cover it for the first time; to me it was like ‘check! Wimbledon.’ You have to be creative in reaching your goals and I think that’s what really helped me so much in my life both professionally and personally. Just not being too rigid. Having goals and setting goals, but being flexible with them and knowing that it might not quite look like how I think it’s going to look and that’s okay.
I spent most of my career, including my time at McKinsey, never acknowledging that I was a woman. And, you know, fast forward — I’m 43 now — fitting in is not helping us.
So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.
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