I LOVE me some TED Talks. If you have never listened to or watched one of these podcasts or videos, I encourage you to subscribe on your devices and check them out!
With Gauthami and my introducing #UGauGrrl this past week (thank you for all the support!), the timing of the last TED Talk could not have come at a better time. In her rousing 12-minute presentation, Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani implored the audience, “I need each of you to tell every young woman you know to be comfortable with imperfection.”
Young girls, she says, are taught to be perfect, while boys are encouraged to be brave.
When I first heard her speak on this, I thought, “Yes, of course! As girls, we are taught so many things, but bravery is not one.” Even in the generation I grew up in (somewhere between Y and Millennial), I hear speeches on going after what you want, being yourself, having it all…but never bravery.
The pursuit of perfection can be paralyzing at worst and slow you down at best. It harbors doubt and keeps us from moving forward. Bravery, on the other hand, tells you to dive right in and take action. Risks abound with anything you do, but the reward can be far greater.
It made me think about the women we have been discussing for our upcoming t-shirt collection. It’s easy to think, seeing the success these women have garnered in their respective fields and lives, that it must have been easy. Everything fell into place and happened, perfectly.
However, if you look at the path that each woman took or is taking to achieve their goals, they did not meet them without some bumps in the road. In other words, their paths were not perfect. And, if you dig a little more deeply, these women were not perfect either.
You can only think, following Ms. Sujani’s talk, that these women put aside that need for perfection and replaced it with unwavering bravery. That’s how they made things happen.
Harriet Tubman is a perfect example. Can you imagine how scary it must have been to help so many slaves reach freedom in a time when one misstep would have meant certain death? She risked her life, those of the slaves she helped and those of the people whom she trusted to do something extraordinary and to change so many lives. She had to have an insurmountable amount of courage to do it.
Ms. Tubman probably felt insecure at times. She may have made some mistakes along the way. At some point, though, she had to have changed her mindset to believe that, despite the times and the risks, she had to take action. She had to put aside perfection. She had to be brave.
One of my favorite quotes, from Mark Twain, that has changed my personal perspective on courage and actually helped me incorporate it more into my life is this: “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
Pretty powerful, right?
So let’s start removing perfection and fear from our collective MO. Let’s replace it instead with bravery and action. I challenge you to start small each day and practice having the courage to speak up, make a change or do something amazing. No matter how big or small, you, too, can make an impact on your life and, subsequently, the life of others.