I’m in the process of interviewing dozens of badass women so I can write their stories. I get to ask them whatever I want, learn about what makes them tick, what routines or mantras they follow, challenges they’ve overcome, books they read — WHATEVER I WANT. I know, it’s the coolest project ever.
Once I interview them, I digest. And then I start writing. I playback our interview and listen. And I write more. I listen again, focused on the tone in their voices as they tell me about gender or racial discrimination they’ve experienced. I listen for the way they speak confidently about their successes. I hear how that despite others thinking that they can’t, they do. And then they do it again.
I ask about their goals. Their mentors. How they got to where they are. They tell me about other women who have lifted them up. And other men. How they have learned through books. Books that have taught them everything from the dynamics of communication in small groups to how to build a budget. They openly admit they don’t know it all, and when they don’t know the answer to something, they are not afraid to ask.
Some built careers while raising young children. Others are single and have opted to pursue their careers exclusively. There are some women who have taken over a family business and others who started as an entry level worker. One woman who cleaned an office building at night just so she could spend time with her daughter during the day, and then went on to become a director in a multi-national business.
What I’m finding is that this process is just as much about self discovery as it is about exploring the worlds of these women. I’m only about a quarter of the way through the interviews have already found that it doesn’t matter who you are, what socioeconomic background you come from, what level of education you achieve or what position you’re in, you’re going to inevitably encounter some challenges along the way. It’s universal. But the difference is that the women who are truly successful don’t let those challenges define them.
Oprah once said, “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
The huz and I were just talking about the number of rocks that have been thrown in our paths recently. We’ve had some hiccups and run into some complete assholes. We’ve seen how greed can completely obscure integrity and have each been disappointed to see the true versions of people we once trusted and respected.
But this project has helped me see the big picture and appreciate that it’s just a bump in the path. You persist. You keep going. And when you do, success in whatever form you desire will come to you.