You Have Important Lessons to Share

I am lucky to count many strong women in my family, and among my friends and my colleagues. From them, I have learned many valuable lessons. From my mother, also an attorney: “Work hard, dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, but don’t stress over things that are out of your control.” From one of my closest friends: “Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to others, it’s your career you’re building.” From the first partner I worked for as a summer intern: “You’re just as smart, competent, and worthy as the men you work with, and there’s no reason you can’t do the job wearing a dress or bright red nails.”

As a young attorney starting out in a new city and a male-dominated workplace, I was grateful to have the support of these strong women. I felt capable of overcoming the challenges associated with my new work environment, knowing that my role models had faced similar or greater ones in their careers. Despite their positive impact on my career, however, some of these bright women may never seek to mentor others, or even consider themselves role models, as they fail to recognize the value of their guidance.

As women, we strive for perfection in all areas of our lives, but often minimize the importance of our achievements. As we focus on improving our performance in this or that area, we hesitate to take on the role of mentor, thinking that surely someone else is more successful and a better example for younger and less experienced women. But we need to recognize and celebrate our accomplishments, and those of the women we work with, for our own professional and personal development and for the women who think of us as their role models. When we do, we might realize we have a lot more stories to tell and lessons to share than we thought.