The Power Of Women
I found myself getting choked up a lot during the Olympics and while it is true that the older I get the more I am becoming my mom (love you mom!), these emotions were stirred by the world finally seeing what so many of us already know to be true: the power of women.
My first ‘girl power’ moment was the 1999 World Cup Women’s Soccer win. As a 14-year-old girl I was seeing something I hadn’t; an unapologetic display of female strength and athleticism. I was motivated and awe struck and desperately wanted to be them. But as my path has diverged from becoming a professional soccer player, I continue to be inspired by women like Simone Biles, Allyson Felix, and the USWNT. There is still a desire to emulate them, but more importantly, an appreciation for what they are demonstrating to women of all generations: lead your way and if it has never been done before then create the path forward.
I only see strength in Simone Biles, who could have sold her body out just to make others happy but instead chose herself, her safety, and her mental health. I don’t know how many men would’ve had the courage to do that, but what I do know is it was one of the many examples of the way women lead. We saw that same strength in Allyson Felix, when she refused to let a sponsor sell her short for being pregnant and instead took a new, uncharted path. We continue to watch the power of the USWNT and their refusal to back down from the fight for equal pay.
Women are powerful and they lead boldly. The problem is for too long we wanted to compare that power to men, instead of respecting it on its own merit. We are leaders and role models in different ways. We are stronger and more emotionally intelligent than we have ever been given credit for. For too many years women have been taught they have to be like men. They have been told to hide diversity in their personality and their leadership style. We have been conditioned to believe that we have to be tough to be respected. We have been told to shy away from vulnerability or compassion for ourselves or others as it will be viewed as a weakness.
I know this story all too well. I spent too much time in my career fighting these battles, only recently realizing that I will fight and lead my way; not for or like anyone else and not to be the guy who came before. But to be me, unapologetically and with all the facets of my personality that it requires to lead well. I am forever thankful to these women for showing us that being you is the most powerful thing that you can give to yourself AND the most powerful thing that you can give to anybody else.
Representation matters. When we see a woman embracing her personality and strength and then living that out loud on one of the biggest stages in the world it only further highlights why we need more female representation. Women are fully capable of leading with humility, competence, confidence, and resilience. Women are bold and empathetic; they are more diverse and capable than what we see portrayed and it is WAY past time for the world to see more of that.
What we saw in the female Olympians is that strength and leadership do not have to look the way it’s always looked. There is so much more courage in saying “I will own and express my power in the way that comes naturally to me”. They showed us that there is courage in boundaries and the word ‘no’ as well. They reminded us that we can demand the best out of ourselves, push the boundaries of what is possible, forge our own path, and still have vulnerability and empathy. They displayed their power by simply being themselves.
What I have realized is that the power of women will always bring me to tears and that is just of those things I will no longer apologize for.