Today’s passage opens with a quote from Faith Whittlesey on the iconic dance skills of two legends: “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.” Women are so quick to downplay their talents. We underestimate our own skill and expertise. The traits we expect of leaders—assertiveness, power, confidence—are aligned with society’s expectations of men, while characteristically female traits of empathy, compassion, and caring are considered weak and secondary by comparison. Girls who demonstrate leadership from a young age are criticized as bossy. Women are called controlling or bitchy. Slowly with time this is changing, but the hurtful stereotypes run deep. When we’ve grown up hearing these things our whole life, it can be hard to get outside of that mindset. It takes courage to own our talent. Courage to stand tall. Courage to proudly and boldly lead.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“That’s right! Ginger Rogers was amazingly good at what she did, and so are we. It takes courage for women to acknowledge how good we are at what we do. We are caught in a strange cultural expectation of having to be simultaneously competent and passive. This often results in a kind of humility that really is a denial of our expertise.
Also, women who do too much seem to vacillate between exaggerating our competence and feeling that we are worthless and totally incompetent. This vacillation between extremes is part of the addictive disease.
The real test of courage is being realistic and letting ourselves know that we really are competent at many things.”
As women who do too much, we struggle with balance. We fail to recognize our talents without overemphasizing them. We move between two extremes—either thinking we are the best, most competent people in the room or the worst, total failures. We must be brave in facing the truth about our competencies and limitations. It takes courage not only to boldly own our accomplishments, but also to bravely admit our shortcomings, those areas where we need improvement. As with all things in life, it is truly a balancing act. Courage gives us the strength to be humble without disregarding all that we are good at. For surely, we have strengths. We are gifted. We bring those gifts to the world, and there are times we can learn from the gifts others have to offer Courage helps us see all of this. Never underestimate your own power, but recognize there are still areas where you need help.