When was the last time you thought about the Spice Girls, the all-girl pop group from the UK that gained popularity in the late 90s? You may remember some of their hits, such as “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life.” I remember these songs fondly but, more importantly, I have always remembered their message of “Girl Power.”
Let’s consider for a minute why their message was, and is, so important. Do you realize that only 22 out of the top Forbes 500 companies have female CEOs, but roughly 60% of all undergraduate and graduate degrees are earned by women each year in the US?
Based on these figures, it is not a surprise that in a recent conversation with my coworkers, they were astounded to learn that the majority of leaders and bosses in my life have all been female. I am incredibly lucky that my exposure to strong female mentors happened early and has been a constant in my life. This is not the case for the majority of women I know. I believe one of the most valuable gifts women can offer each other is the gift of guidance and mentorship.
Here at the top three lessons I’ve learned from my female mentors:
- I learned the power of observation and listening. One of my earliest mentors taught me the importance of listening before acting and showed me the many lessons you can learn just by observing. Think about the most successful person you know. What could you learn from a few seconds of observing her interactions with others or navigating her way through an important meeting? I’ve received some of my greatest lessons just by observing and listening.
- I learned the power of demonstrating empathy; the ability to truly understand the emotion another person is experiencing. To me, emotions are the universal language of the world. You will never lose the ability to connect with others if you are able to define and understand a shared emotion.
- I learned the power of self-care and setting boundaries for yourself. How often do you hear someone say, “I’m SO busy.” I hear this every day and am probably guilty of saying this myself. Think about it: If you are not setting boundaries for yourself and you are consistently pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, are you really effectively achieving what you set out to accomplish? My mentors taught me the power of setting boundaries and protecting yourself and that self-care is a key foundation for success.
Thanks to the female mentors in my life, the Spice Girls included, I have learned the true meaning of Girl Power.
Happy International Women’s Day to all of the strong, smart, compassionate, and resilient women I know. May you always encourage the women in front of you, behind you, and beside you.