One of the joys of my second act of life is watching my granddaughter, Zoe, grow into young womanhood and explore all the richness of life. Another joy of my second act is helping leaders and women succeed in business:
- - thinking big rather than small
- - being the bigger person and doing what’s right whether or not it’s popular
- - trading in the tiny dreams for big confident ones that come to pass
- - inviting the elephant to dance
- - foregoing the personal glory and paying it forward for the greater good.
All positive things we want to see in our young leaders regardless of gender.
Today, International Women’s Day, both of my joys intersect. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is gender agenda: gaining momentum. So to honor today, here’s my letter to Zoe, a confident young girl on her journey to becoming a confident young woman, a powerful leader, and anything else she chooses to be and do.
Today is International Women’s Day. While there won’t be pizza, okra and apple pie to celebrate (perhaps there should be…), it’s a big day for you and other young girls across the globe. Why? Because you’re our future.
You frequently ask us to tell you a story. Today, I’m doing something different. I’m asking you to start living out a story, your story.
Twenty years from now I want to sit down with you and listen to your stories. I want to know where you’ve taken your life and how you found success, fulfillment and love.
I want to hear how:
- You never lost your belief in yourself and how it propelled you into new adventures because you were never afraid to take the leap
- The courage you displayed in fiercely pursuing your brown belt at age 9 never left you, and that you shared it with others to help them find their way because girls can do and be whatever they want to do and be
- Your compassion for saving stray animals and befriending the underdog has made you a beacon of light for family, friends, co-workers and colleagues and maybe even a broader stage
- Your boundless creativity and gift for storytelling have served you well, allowing you to chase innovation, not letting misguided beliefs and stereotypes limit your opportunities and experiences
- Your belief in inclusion never wavered and kept you from falling victim to short-sighted ideologies that shut out people with different viewpoints, and
- You kept being the boss and the ringleader, never doubting for a moment that you would always be liked and be powerful, too.
I know some of these concepts probably don’t make much sense to you today, but they will as you experience more of life. Trust your Mum-mum on this one.
There are days when I wonder if the gender gap will ever be closed. Then an image of your purpose-filled little face appears, and I know your generation of women is in good hands.
With love and hope for the future,