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15 Important Life Lessons For Women

15 Important Life Lessons For Women

Growing up is tough. I still remember sitting in my college dorm and realizing that I actually had to go to the store to buy toothpaste and toilet paper. When I lived with my parents, it seemed that these and many other household items just magically repopulated. Little did I know that buying toiletries was going to be the least of my worries in years to come.

As women, we face particularly unique hurdles in life. We are lucky to have incredible examples of successful and thriving women around us, but it can be easy to let the inspiration from these women sit stagnant. Don’t let that happen to you. Let go of your fear; branch out and try something new.

As you look through this list of life lessons for women, find something that excites you, or even scares you, and then go for it!

1. You Must Be Your Own Advocate

“Young women, unlike our male counterparts, generally have too few people in our spheres that will advocate for us.” – Shelly Porges, of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

In your career, in your romantic relationships, in your friendships, and in your personal life you should understand what you want, what you don’t want, and what you need. Be prepared to fight for what you need. As far as what you want and don’t want, draw a line as to how far you’re willing to compromise.

For example, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset that women make 78 cents for every dollar that men make. But when is the last time you asked for a raise or even negotiated your starting pay? Sometimes advocating for yourself means having an uncomfortable conversation or dealing with conflict. Don’t be afraid to put on your big girl panties and do what you need to be your own advocate.

Besides, if you don’t fight for yourself who will?

2. You Need to Embrace a Healthful Lifestyle

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

You’ve got one body and one mind – it’s time to start taking care of them. Establishing healthy habits now is not only going to benefit your current life, but will also be an investment in your future.

Start drinking more responsibly, washing your face every night, moisturizing every day, putting sunscreen on before you leave the house, getting enough sleep every night, reading a book before you go to bed rather than scrolling through social media, or enrolling in a class that you find intriguing a few times a year. Find any way you can to minimize stress and maximize happiness in your day-to day-life.This list may be overwhelming, but if you just take one small habit and work on it for a month, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate new habits.

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And remember: When setting goals, it’s important to find that balance between improving your physical well being and your mental well being.

3. You Can Be Assertive AND Feminine

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood

It’s so easy to think that you are allowed to be either assertive or feminine. These two traits are not mutually exclusive! Define what femininity means for you and don’t be afraid to incorporate those manifestations in every aspect of your life. Just because you’re a manager at work doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to be feminine and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t be assertive. This balance can be hard for women to master.

Establishing this balance takes time, but being aware of changes that you can make will ensure that you are authentic in all of your interactions.

4. Gossip Isn’t Good for Anyone

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Ladies, we are all in this together. Gossiping is an incredibly hard habit to break, but STOP! Fill your life with enough meaning that you don’t need to talk about someone else’s life to entertain yourself. There’s enough gossip about women in our world already. Be the type of woman that chooses to lift other women up, not tear them down. Although this means that you don’t participate in some conversations (or even feel a little out of the loop), being known as a woman that helps other women is far more beneficial in the long run.

Karma will do her job.

5. Courage Means Asking for Help

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” – Cesar Chavez

We all need a little help sometimes. Asking for help shouldn’t become habitual, but it is important to understand when it is necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help that you need!

6. Life Goes On

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon

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Sometimes life feels overwhelming. To keep perspective during these times is extremely important. Whether you are faced with a task that feels insurmountable, grief that feels overwhelming, a decision that feels impossible, or a future that feels terrifying, it is important to remember that life goes on. Struggling is a part of the journey. As difficult as these parts of the journey are, it is important to embrace them.

Embracing the difficult times will help you enjoy the best times.

7. Self-Sufficiency Is Necessary

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The confidence that comes from being self-sufficient will carry you through the hardest time of your life. It’s tempting to let your parents take care of you until you find a partner. But even if this is a realistic option in your life, don’t do it!

Knowing that you can take care of yourself is invaluable. When supporting yourself you’ll find that you are more judicious about your bills. Rather than automatically renewing your car insurance you may want to shop around. It may be time to start buying some of your makeup at the drugstore. And planning a staycation may have more appeal than an intricate vacation.

Assess your current financial state, look for any dependencies that exist, and do what you can to start ensuring you are self-sufficient. Being emotionally self-sufficient is just as important as being financially self-sufficient. If you feel that you need a partner to be happy, take some time to step back and figure out how you can become more independent. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break up with your current partner, but take small steps to establish habits that will give you the confidence that you need to thrive on your own.

8. You Can’t Please Everyone

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” – Gertrude Stein

As women, we have a tendency to try and make everyone happy. Sometimes people are going to be upset with you – and that’s okay. Trying to please everyone is exhausting and often provides poor results. Most often, by trying to please everyone you end up making a lot more people unhappy. Mastering the art of saying ‘no’ tactfully, being honest with others about how you feel, and understanding that it’s necessary to have uncomfortable conversations are all important skills to master.

Learning early on that you cannot please everyone will enable you to avoid a lot of stress in the long run.

9. Self-Compassion Is Invaluable

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcom S. Forbes

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Be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other women. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Do the best that you can do and let that be enough.

If that isn’t enough for someone, it may be time to remove that individual from your inner circles. The power of positive thinking will work wonders in your life!

10. Friendships Take Time

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen

Making friends and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. It’s easy to be a good friend when convenient, but becomes much more difficult when it is inconvenient. Invest in a group of friends that you want to keep around for a long time. Schedule time to catch up with them, remember their birthdays, and be there for them when they need someone. Social ties have been shown to increase happiness levels and having people that you can count on is well worth the time that you invest.

As women it can be easy to have girlfriends when we are single and then forget about them as soon as we are in a relationship. Although your new relationship may be time consuming, be sure that you continue to reach out to your friends and keep those social ties strong.

11. Mother Knows Best

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Whether it’s your mom or a ‘mom like’ figure in your life, be sure to listen up when they talk. It’s so easy to think that we ‘know better’ and that older women ‘just don’t understand’. Although they may not understand every single facet of the problem you are facing, their advice is worth listening to. If you choose to disregard their advice, you will probably find out the hard way that they were right.

Even if you don’t understand, it’s worth it to listen to and take the advice of your mom. More than likely, you will be happy that you did.

12. Obsessing About Men Won’t Get You Anywhere

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Create a life that you love and you will be able to attract partners into that life that are the type of partner you want long term. I know this is much easier said than done but it will be SO worth it. If you are continually evolving and becoming a better version of yourself, the odds that you will attract a better version of a potential partner will increase.

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Investing time and energy into an obsession about a future partner is a total waste of time – avoid it like the plague!

13. You’ll Make Mistakes

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden

One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Focusing on and striving for perfection will result in heartache and frustration. Do the best that you can and be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, be willing to admit that and apologize if needed. Don’t apologize excessively; instead, take action.

Do what you need to do to fix the situation and move right along!

14. It Helps to Let Go of Stress

“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” Boethius.

Do you stay up at night and worry about things that are out of your control? Are you stressed about potential problems in the future? Being stressed and worrying are survival skills that we need, but that are often abused in today’s world. If you are constantly stressed or constantly worried your body can experience negative symptoms. These symptoms will soon become extremely problematic and cause other health problems in the future.

Learn to manage your stress now. You may need to see a therapist, take some time for yourself, or start participating in stress relieving practices to ensure you can let go of unnecessary stress. It’s a lifelong pursuit.

15. We’re All in This Together

“The success of every single woman is the inspiration for another.” – Dianve Von Furtsenburg

Ladies, we are our own worst critics. Stop talking about the way your coworker dresses. Stop belittling other women to get a leg up. Start encouraging each other, start being a positive force in the lives of other women, and realize that we are all in this together. Remember: The more women out there that succeed, the better off we all are.

Take these lessons one at a time and learn to truly incorporate them into your life. Slowly but surely, you will start to see a positive difference.

Featured photo credit: Woman hair falling via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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