Yesterday, I met a legend.
I attended a women’s leadership conference in Allentown and met the inspirational women’s rights leader – Gloria Steinem. Although her keynote speech focused on the women’s equality movement over the decades, Gloria also spoke about the importance of women finding balance in their lives – one of my favorite topics!
Before she entered the room to speak to the crowd, I had the honor of meeting Gloria in person. My boss, also a women’s rights leader and director of a non-profit institute for women’s leadership, has known Gloria for many years and arranged a private audience with her before the keynote speech began. I happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people, and was able to shake hands and say hello to this iconic historical figure. What a thrill!
Even better was listening to Gloria speak. With a down-to-earth and humorous style, she laid it on the line. “It’s not about either/or, it’s about and,” she proclaimed. Women aren’t limited to either motherhood or a career. Instead, we should value our “unique individuality” and find what makes us happy, which could be both!
Lead by example
Something else she said stayed with me – women demonstrate leadership to younger generations of girls through our behavior and actions. She said, “Instill everything with your values and behave as if everything you do matters.”
I agree that women’s actions make a statement. By working full time in a job I enjoy and that also helps other women, I hope to show my daughter that she has choices in her life. She can do anything she wants to do and follow her own path. If she decides to focus on her career and not have children, that’s okay. But if she decides to “have it all”, the door is open for her, thanks to others (including me!) who have come before.
Up to us
Gloria also made the point that it’s up to each woman to decide how to achieve balance in her own life. There isn’t a magical formula…what works for me might not work for my friend or co-worker. We need to keep in mind that we’re valuable, not because we’re mothers or employees, but because we are unique, creative human beings.
Enjoy every moment
She reminded everyone in the audience that we shouldn’t live in the past or for a future that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, we should enjoy the present and live fully “in the moment.”
I’m guilty of this – especially when it comes to living for the future. I’m always thinking about what I need to do next…tomorrow, next month, or next year. I’m a planner, which can sometimes cause me to lose sight of the great things happening today.
Thanks to Gloria’s inspiring words, I’m going to focus more on the present. Maybe that’s the key to finding a better work/life balance.