Make a Difference

Given that it’s Women’s History Month and coming off the heels of Black History Month, we have been blessed to read, watch, learn and hear about the stories of how diverse people have made significant differences in our country — often creating a better world in which others are able to benefit. We might have heard about Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature — inspiring other women to tell their and others’ stories; or Dr. Antonia Novello, the first woman Surgeon General (and the first Hispanic to hold this title), encouraging some girls to pursue a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career; or Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman Justice in the Supreme Court, motivating a young woman to join her debate team at school. These women’s accomplishments and many others like them, demonstrate that the glass ceiling is just that, glass — a permeable barrier that can not only be shattered, but one day, completely obliterated.

It would require pages and pages to list all the great accomplishments of women throughout history who broke through walls of racism and sexism so that more people (not just women) could have greater chances of achieving their dreams and we often cheer for those who “made it”, sometimes being inspired and motivated ourselves to follow in their footsteps. Some women didn’t even imagine that something was possible until they saw another women achieve it.

But what about you? What are your dreams and do they include making a difference in your home, on your job or in your community? Have you already begun to follow in the inspirational footsteps of a mentor or person you admire — causing many more cracks, as Hillary Clinton said, in that glass ceiling? Or, maybe you’re a trailblazer and you have begun (or begun thinking about) burning up paths where no woman (or man) has traveled before.

Perhaps you’re already in a senior leadership role and have reached the pinnacle of your career. Is there another direction you can take it? Is it time to dream a bigger dream?

No matter where you are or what you have achieved, there’s always an opportunity to make a difference. You might not be the first in a particular field, but you could be the first some other woman has had a chance to see in action. You might be the first in your family to get that degree, pursue that career or accomplish a particular goal. It’s time to go beyond what you might consider ordinary and step into extraordinary! Someone is depending on you and your dreams so that hers (or his) can be realized.

Take your time, talents and treasures and illuminate your world. And, as Marianne Williamson said so eloquently in one of my favorite poems, Our Deepest Fear, “…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

Dr. Julianna Hynes, is an Executive Coach focused on supporting leaders in developing their professional presence. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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