5 things i'd tell my little girl about being a super hero
October 16, 2014
By Matthew Tukaki
There is something quite fascinating just sitting back and watching, often from afar, how children develop on a societal level and how they begin that path we have all taken to find our place in the world. A few days ago my god daughter posted a picture of her daughter Keira on her Facebook wall and I when I sat It thought to myself “spot on – this little lady is really going to go places!”
We all know that pictures paint a thousand words right? And this photo sure does! Here is Keira, not quite in school yet, running ahead with her super hero cape on. I have no doubt that is some kind of fairy princess dress fluttering off to the sides! Now, if you know Keira you would also know that she is a very confident little girl with a presence about her that is quite enamouring – in other words, she not only knows who she is she is gaining in confidence by the day. We are all products of the environments in which we grow up and so it is with absolute confidence that I state clearly her confidence comes from her mother!
Keira will be growing up in a world where women’s empowerment and the ability for girls to succeed is increasingly part of business as usual and not seen as just a side issue –yet there remains a huge amount of work to do. In agriculture, for example, women make up more than 40% of the labour force but only represent between 3-20% of landholders. In Africa, women-owned enterprises make up as little as 10% of all businesses whereas in South Asia that figure is only 3%.
According to US AID women make up nearly half of the global population yet only account for 20% of legislators. In fact, they US AID go further by saying “If we can erase these inequities--and put women on equal footing with men--we know that we can unlock human potential on a transformational scale. Just by empowering women farmers with the same access to land, new technologies and capital as men, we can increase crop yields by as much as 30% and feed an additional 150 million people.”
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook said in March this year that she wanted to go so far as to ban the word bossy "We know that by middle school, more boys than girls want to lead," Sandberg said, "and if you ask girls why they don't want to lead, whether it's the school project all the way on to running for office, they don't want to be called bossy, and they don't want to be disliked."
"If you look at the world, women do 66% of the work in the world. Woman produces 50% of the food. Women make 10% of the income and women own 1% of the property. We are 50% of the population. We are 5% of the Fortune 500 CEOs," Sandberg said. "We are 17% of the board seats. We are 19% in Congress. That's not enough for 50% of the population. We live in a world that is overwhelming run and owned by men."
Of course this belies the fact that there is overwhelming evidence to show that the backbone of many developed and developing nation economies is filled to the brim with women – small business. But even in these cases there are challenges. One women business owner remarked to me recently that she had started a business in Saudi Arabia but “In order to get to work I have to get my husband to drive me because I cannot hold a license!” She is part of a campaign to get the Government to change the law.
So, coming back to this incredible little girl who is growing up in a world that resembles nothing like the 1950’s (or dare I say the 80’s) what advice would I give her about her becoming a super hero?
1. Determination: remain determined and whenever someone tells you no turn it around and continue to ask why not. It actually doesn’t matter the gender, the truth is we are discouraged more often than not to do new things because we somehow have to fit within someone else’s box or convention. Remaining determined is a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs and super heroes alike!
2. Disrupt convention: conventional thinking leads to conventional worlds of both work and play – by disrupting convention you open your mind to new ideas and potential new ways of doing things. Super heroes and entrepreneurs live in worlds where innovation breeds solutions and the only way we arrive at innovation is by disrupting the conventional.
3. Lead people, don’t manage them: one of the empowering things you can do is not to manage people – instead lead them. In doing so you allow their own talents and skills to come through leaving you more time to lead by example. People follow leaders, not managers – in fact people more often despise managers and yet love leaders! Find the balance!
4. Confidence is built through knowledge:confidence is the result of knowing what you know through research, reading, absorbing information and having experiences. Wherever possible know a little something about everything and engage in conversations from a height of knowledge, not a depth of anecdote
5. Test the boundaries: we never overcome barriers by simply accepting a wall is a wall. Walls were built to be torn down and the only reason some exist longer than others is we believe it is too high to climb. Therefore gather people around you that can lift you up and, in turn, you can reach back and pull them over the wall with you. So, test the boundaries where they exist.
We see a lot of inspirational quotes from any number of well-known men from history and only a smattering of women. When we developed our #inspirational quote series to provide a daily dose of inspiration to our readers and followers, we never thought of an imbalance – yet, for every five quotes we find from men we can only find one from a well-known woman. Funnily enough I don’t see this as a problem. In fact it tells me there is a lot more to come from women from leadership in business and politics, to communities and industries.
It gives me the confidence to say to Keira that you will be a super hero entrepreneur having adventures I could only have dreamt of and, in doing so, build a world more creative, innovative and empowering than one we live in today.
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