By Lisa Smith, WiPN’s President-Elect
As we celebrate Women’s History Month and the vital role that women play in our history, culture and society, it is a great time to reflect on the many accomplishments we have made over the years toward gender parity and to give gratitude to the women that have paved the way. There are far more role models now than ever before and for that, we can all be grateful.
As I think about the incredible role models from the past and more recently, I find myself focused less so on the “what” they accomplished and wonder more about the “how” they got there. I wonder what inspired and motivated them. I wonder about their personal situation, the choices they had to make along the way, and the conditions that led to their success. For me, it’s important that I can relate to them and apply that learning to my own situation and growth. For these reasons, I tend to find my inspiration closer to home – my family, my workplace, my friends. There are so many inspiring stories right in front of us that we often neglect to take the time to reflect on, learn from, acknowledge, and celebrate.
I think about my mom, a single mother on a hairdresser’s salary raising two children without any family support and the difficult choices she had to make each day – what to give up, when to swallow her pride and ask for help, and from who. She didn’t always get it right, but she always did what she felt she had to do at that time. She inspired me in so many ways but especially to be brave, adaptable, resilient, and most certainly to become financially independent.
I recently received an email from a friend, colleague and WiPN Member talking about her return to work following a maternity leave and the challenging, but for her, obvious choice she had to make to pursue all her goals and aspirations and the myriad of opinions and assumptions that people make about returning to work. She wondered whether her male colleagues faced those same conflicting feelings, emotions and perceptions. She reminded me of the personal choices we all must make to balance life and work – it’s hard, and often riddled with guilt no matter what the outcome. To MAKE the decision, regardless of what it is, is a significant accomplishment in and of itself.
It is for these reasons I am so grateful and passionate about WiPN. We all need a safe and relevant community of women that face similar challenges, looking for support and inspiration, a space to share personal experiences and where mistakes are not only expected, but forgiven. The numerous panels of women in our industry sharing their personal journeys are not only relatable but also present learning moments and actionable ideas. We need to continue to lift each other up and celebrate our successes, however big or small they are.
So, in the spirit of Women’s History Month – who are the people in your life that inspire you and why? Be grateful and let them know!