Formal education is a fine thing, but before setting out on their own, would-be small-business owners are advised to have completed a semester or two at The School Hard knocks: at least one pass through the proverbial meat grinder of life (ouch!). Those who’ve been there and done that value the practical experience gained as much or more than knowledge acquired in the halls of academe. In short, you don’t need a PhD from Yale or Harvard to become a successful leader, executive or business owner. And that applies to women as much as it does to men—perhaps more so, a point ably made by Congressman Marsha Blackburn, four-term Republican from Tennessee, and author of Life Equity (Thomas Nelson, January 2009).
What I Think:
I became aware of Congressman Blackburn through her post-election interviews on Fox News, but only learned of her new book when she was interviewed on former Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show. In that interview, as she does in Life Equity, Congressman Blackburn invites women everywhere to forget about meekly waiting on the outside to be asked in, but to bust through the door of opportunity…taking it on, and making it happen.
“As women,” says Blackburn, “We tend to compare ourselves to others and undervalue the talents we already possess. Mom was right though, there will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier, and more talented, but no one else is uniquely you.”
Moreover, as noted earlier, it doesn’t take an Ivy League education to become an effective leader. Blackburn maintains, leadership is a transferable commodity – that using the Life Equity women [and men] have already built up they can bring about real change from their ordinary, everyday life experiences.
And contrary to Conventional Wisdom, which relegates so many talented individuals to the sidelines, the mundane equips us all for the magnificent. Blackburn ads that it’s because women are such natural team leaders and consensus builders, many may simply view a strong desire to lead as, well, a bit rude. So in addition to believing in themselves, a few other conventional myths need to be eliminated.
Blackburn’s Myth-Busters From Life Equity
Myth #1 – Opportunity, influence, and the power to bring change naturally flow to the one with the best pedigree. It simply isn’t true that opportunities to lead go to the smartest, the richest, the best dressed, or the most qualified “on paper.” In reality, true functional power tends to flow to the one who is willing to shoulder the responsibility.
Myth #2 – The people currently filling the role you are considering have special knowledge and ability you don’t have. The fact is, almost everyone learns by doing, improves by continuing to do, and becomes confident only because they have done.
Myth # 3 – You don’t have to tell your own story. Someone will step up and tell it for you. In a perfect world, we would never have to point to our own accomplishments. Great work would speak for itself and get noticed every time after all, “nice girls don’t brag.” The uncomfortable truth is that it’s up to you to tell your own story.
Myth #4 – Everyone is going to cheer for us, every step of the way. Sorry, but the higher up you poke your head, the more attractive a target it makes for the bitter, the jealous, and the naysayers.
What Do You Think? Marsha Blackburn is a wife, mother, and businesswoman — a skilled and competent legislator who gets the job done. As an SBO—male or female–how does her message resonate with you? We welcome your opinion. Have you registered?
Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater FL. He has been a high-impact writer and editor for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes ghostwriting and editing for businesses of all types and sizes, professional practitioners and individuals, and is a www.thefreestyleentrepreneur.com Contributing Author. Visit his Website: www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
Or contact him at email@example.com.
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