“When sleeping women wake, mountains move.” This Chinese proverb kept repeating in my head during the weekend of the recent Women’s March on Washington.
What started as a Facebook post calling for women to march in the nation’s capitol resulted in the birth of hundreds of “sister marches” that spread throughout cities across the U.S. and world. The marches sent powerful messages that extend far beyond politics or political parties. These peaceful marches signified a deep desire that people have to elevate women’s status in society and business. United by that desire, they were a powerful voice that echoed around the world to tell nations that by suppressing women, we are suppressing humanity.
It was inspiring to see millions marching as one global nation, and it was proof that the challenges women face are beyond geographical borders and cultures. Now, it’s time for each one of us to address these issues individually and as one humanity.
As women, we should not just march one day to voice our daily challenges. We need to march every single day. Here are four ways in which you can march daily:
• March by investing in yourself.
Invest in education, develop new skills and continue to look ahead for opportunities for professional growth.
I know many women who become stagnant professionally; they stop investing in their continuous growth and lose sight of what skills and training they need to get to the next level. Instead, they wait for an employer to fund training, workshops or conferences for them.
While it’s great to have someone else invest in us, we need to be willing to invest in ourselves as well. What do you want your next career move to be? What specific skills, certifications or membership in professional organizations are needed? If your employer can’t fund the cost for any reason, look for ways to fund it yourself. March forward by continuing to invest in yourself because your career growth is worth it.
• March by believing in yourself.
Most of the women who I coach say similar and painful phrases. “I am my own worst enemy.” “I feel guilty when I invest time and money in myself.” “I should not apply for this job, there are so many more qualified people than me,” and so many other similar restrictive thoughts.
Phrases and attitudes like these continue to push us down and actually transform us into our own worst enemy. These women come from diverse geographical backgrounds, professional experiences, religious beliefs and economic statuses, but they are united with the same self-imposed limitations. In order for us to march forward, we first need to look inward and find ways to recognize and eliminate the internal self-imposed limitations that continue to keep us down.
Once we believe in our value and ourselves, then we will become unstoppable; nothing internal or external will stand in our way. The first step to solving any obstacle is awareness. Starting now, I challenge you to become intentional about how you speak to yourself.
Watch what you tell yourself, and if your internal dialogue is not positive, recognize it and remind yourself that you are capable and worthy. Then take the actions needed to march forward with a more positive attitude.
• March by questioning the norm and driving change.
Many are taught at an early age not to question, but rather to accept things the way they are. We were told what is right and wrong, and then expected to follow those rules. But who defines what is right or wrong anyway?
We hear sayings such as “this is how it has always been done” and “don’t rock the boat,” but that has not helped advance women’s status in society and business. Our favorite two questions about every topic should become, “Why?” and “Why not?”
We must start asking, “Why are things the way they are?” “Why aren’t they different?” and “What do we each need to do in order to take ownership and drive change?” Then, we must take action and change the way things have always been done in order to create a better reality for women and everyone.
By challenging the factors that have suppressed women and by creating a new reality, we are marching forward.
• March by empowering other women.
We all march together when we help each other. There is a great need for women role models, mentors and leaders. Let’s transform the challenges that we have faced into something valuable and create growth opportunities for other women.
One way each of us can do this is by selecting a “leadership apprentice.” Work with this woman and help her by providing valuable resources and connections, and opening new doors of opportunity for her as she seeks professional growth.
It’s such a rewarding experience to play an active role in helping the new generation of women and protecting them from the old challenges of the past. We march forward by positively influencing the stories of the future.
Let’s march each and every day by continuing to grow professionally; believing in our abilities; questioning and being an active driver of change; and influencing the new generation of women. When we do these, we will wake up and our eyes will open wide to endless possibilities … and then mountains will move.
Dima Ghawi is a leadership speaker and coach. For more information, visit dimaghawi.com. See a TEDx speech Ghawi recently delivered at Spring Hill College.