Issue #1: Arresting the Bravery Deficit
Reshma Saujani’s inspiring Ted Talk on “Teaching Girls Bravery, not Perfection” ignited an international dialogue on the socialisation of girls versus boys: Girls are raised to be perfect and polite; to avoid risk and failure. Boys are raised to be adventurous; take risks and be brave.
If our thoughts become our words and our actions, and our actions become our habits —then what we teach boys and girls and our how we raise boys and girls has a significant influence on their character. By the time boys become adults, they are habituated to take risk after risk and they are rewarded for it.
Reshama Suajani, with sobering accuracy, highlights the “bravery deficit” in girls and women as the culprit for the underrepresentation of women in the workplace; in the boardroom; in the political sphere; and, in leadership positions. Of course, there are other significant stumbling blocks to the advancement of women in the workplace, in the home or in society – but it is hard to deny that our dreams are often deferred because of our own fears – fear of failure; fear of not being good enough; fear of the unknown.
How often do we as women not speak up during a meeting at work or at the dinner table? Why do we hold ourselves back and convince ourselves that we are not ready to submit our application for a new job, or resign from an existing job to pursue bigger opportunities or start a new venture? How often do we allow our fears to convince us to choose the ease of complacency over the discomfort that comes with taking a risk?
The greatest unpacked resource in our society is women. We just need to believe in ourselves enough to take risks; to be adventurous and to find liberation in failure. In the same way that an acorn believes it can become an oak tree, we need to develop the self-confidence to know to believe that we can become something bigger.
The Thread is our attempt to arrest the bravery deficit within ourselves. In order to get The Thread to your mailbox, we needed to overcome our own fears and dare to do something that we are deeply passionate about. We hope that The Thread inspires you into acts of bravery. To get out of your own way and clear your runway for lift-off!
The most important relationship you’ll have is the one with yourself. We’ve all heard this, whether it’s from a trained therapist or via an Instagram meme. The phrase has become so popular because it’s true, which is why it resonates with so many of us. Women in particular, have traditionally defined their relationships with others as an act of service, and their relationships with themselves as martyrdom. We’re proud to be mothers, daughters, wives, employees who give all of ourselves, and yet when we gave even half of that love and effort to ourselves, it’s racked with guilt. Think of all the encouragement and support you’ve given to those you love? Now, imagine giving all of that encouragement and support to yourself, loving yourself as fiercely. Feels good, doesn’t it?
There is no shortage of books, articles, blogs about women and finance, aimed at helping women take control of their finances. Yet research continues to point out that women, even millennials, continue to defer money matters or long term investment decisions to their male spouses or partners. While our earning capacity has increased, we still tend to take a back seat in financial planning and money matters in the home. Part of the lack of participation is because we are still preoccupied with traditional household chores — cooking; bathing the kids; cleaning up after supper—or staying on top of everything at work. We already juggle various roles and are all finding the appropriate balance, and yet, staying on top of the details our finances escapes us. This is in part because it’s daunting, and feels like yet another thing we need to handle, but is important that we handle it. You don’t need to be a financial planner, but you need to know the state of your finances, especially if it’s going to finance all those ambitions you harbour. So gather your courage, download your bank statements, and take stock.
We’d all like to be more active. We sign up to the gym, buy the new gear and cue up the playlist. In some cases we even start the training programme, but inevitably it peters off and before you know it, months have passed and your new leggings have become your Saturday morning cleaning outfit. It’s all so familiar, and frankly some of us have done this several times. This would be the moment to be brave and surprise yourself. Take yoga, for example. There’s a very real risk you will look awkward in that new yoga position when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the floor-to-ceiling mirror. Or on your first jog or hike, your lungs and legs may burn so much that it will really feel like running is not for you. Push through. Risk imperfection each day for the sake of discovering a new part of yourself.
From the time that we are little, we are encouraged to use our words. To speak up and make ourselves heard. It is a survival mechanism and its empowering to venture into the world armed with your voice. As we grow older, and even as our vocabulary expands, our ability to speak up disappears. It is difficult to offend when you are silent and impossible to sound stupid when you say nothing. And so we habituate silencing ourselves and we make ourselves disappear even when we are in the room. The problem with saying nothing is that it’s difficult to advance yourself; your argument; your ideas; and your career through silence. Your voice is an invaluable instrument – use it. The next time you enter the meeting, take your seat at the table, breathe and contribute to the discussion. Look for opportunities to step forward and speak up.