Today, I want to explore who inspires me and why. More specifically, who are the women in my life who have inspired my actions and what makes them so inspirational?
Of course, the answer is a long list (of not just women!) – those I’m close to and those I don’t know at all. Given the nature of our work, I share with you the few women who came to mind almost immediately.
There’s Caroline Criado-Perez who single-handedly took on society and its institutions for leaving out women from just about any process designed for society at large, as she sets out in her book Invisible Women.
Tinna and Lisa
There are Tinna C. Nielsen & Lisa Kepinski who developed the uniquely-helpful, practical way to become more inclusive in the workplace without really trying. Their ‘secrets’ are set out in their book called Inclusion Nudges and is, in my opinion, mandatory reading in this discipline.
There’s Tarana Burke who founded the #metoo movement in 2006 and then waited for history to unfold and start righting its many wrongs.
The common denominator
As I reflect on the deeds of these women, it strikes me that they do have a lot in common. Perhaps these commonalities are some of the building blocks of inspiration.
All these women have courage! Courage to do something that requires them to swim against the mainstream current; courage to stand up and say something that’s going to make them potentially very unpopular and disliked (and we know, as women, how difficult that is for us); courage to stick to their positions and to continue voicing them loud and clear, irrespective of any personal cost.
They also have passion! I’ve always admired people who have a singular passion for their chosen field. Early in my career, I had a colleague who was a tax lawyer. While most of us thought of tax as a rather mundane topic of conversation, this man found it exhilarating! He spoke about tax law with such passion, it almost made it riveting! He found ways to look at it that breathed life into the dry subject. His love for the topic oozed out of him. So much so that, when I heard him speak about tax, I felt I could almost befriend it.
I sense the same type of passion for their area of focus from these three women. They’re whole-heartedly devoted to it. So much so, that they continue to evolve their topic in newsletters, further books and other publicity that helps us gain clarity and understanding. In this way, they manage to bring to us information that we might not have otherwise encountered, and inspire us to take action.
Finally, all three are creatively pragmatic. Perhaps not intentionally, each of these women found a way to package her expertise into something that has universal appeal and allows us to engage with it. From highlighting women-focused organisations (such as a business that makes cycling saddles designed for women’s anatomy or a charity that works with Councils to design common spaces with girls in mind), to making something as difficult and elusive as Inclusion simpler, more practical and, therefore, more achievable, to coining a simple phrase/hashtag that highlights to the world many of the wrongs that have been perpetrated against women in the workplace.
Each in her own way, these women inspire me to alter the way I see life, the way I raise my children, the way Voice At the Table supports its clients. In this way, I hope that my inspiration can be converted into concrete benefits to those with whom we interact.
What about you? Who inspires you and what are their character traits?
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also enjoy reading Are We Being Cowards If We Don’t Speak Out?