To all the women who dream big

Lillian had her first day of 3rd grade yesterday.  It was such a magical day.  As I watched her run into school without even looking back (as she does every day) my mind raced with excitement of all the possibilities that await her.  All the dreams and hopes and big ideas that she’ll go after.  And how at each step of the way, I’ll be cheering her on.

And it got me thinking, maybe I need to do the same for myself.

I talk with Lillian a lot about how she can do or be anything she wants.  Maybe it’s because she’s my only girl. And while I feel the same for my boys, I feel an extra call of duty to reinforce this idea with Lillian (any other girl mommas out there feel the same?).

I say to her; you can be anything you want.  But in reality, my words only go so far.  I need to show her.  Lead by example.  And as I reflect back today, if I’m really truthful, I don’t know that I’ve always lived up to my advice.   

For the past 10 years, I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom, and while I have no regrets about the past decade and would do it all again, I know deep down there is something more I still want.

And I’m beginning to realize I’m not aloneThere are so many women out there, just like me. Women who want to go for a new job, quit a job, write a book, start a business, have a baby.  You name it.  But we’re living somewhere in this “stuck phase”.  A paralyzing grey area.   Content (enough) in the current role we’re in, but deep down carrying around a dream or passion or idea that we’ve always kept quiet.  A dream we’ve actually never shed light on or even said aloud.

We see other women going after what they want and we silently think to ourselves, good for you.  But that’s not for me.  I couldn’t.  And we immediately rattle off in our minds all the reasons why.  Time, kids, money, lack of talent, fear, failure, and the list goes on.

But it’s dawning on me lately that those women who I SEE going full steam ahead are NO DIFFERENT THAN ME.  They have the same barriers.  The same doubts. The same fears. But they did it ANYWAY.

So, I’m asking myself this question today – why not ME?  Why not me to start that business.  Go for the job.  Quit the job.  Run the race.  Pitch the proposal.  Why not ME?

I see Lillian with all her youthful confidence and I’m almost envious.   I asked her recently what she wanted to do when she grew up so she said; be a pop star, of course.  And when I pushed her a little further about a back-up plan (you know, “just in case”;) she immediately responded with; don’t worry mom, if I’m not the best singer, I’ll just lip-sync.  Ok then. Seems like a foolproof plan to me.  My job here is done. 

My point is, she didn’t’ say to herself; who am I to be a singer?  She just sings. Regardless of whether she believes she has the vocal talent or not, her plan (and even her back-up plan) is based on sheer faith, confidence, and passion.  She loves to sing – so a singer she’ll be.   

Chances are she may not be the next Taylor Swift.  But the truth is, it doesn’t matter.  She doesn’t have to be.  What matters is that she learns what it feels like to go after her dreams, full force, without hesitation.  Without questioning her worth.  Without second-guessing herself before she’s even begun.

I recently read a Harvard Business Review which quoted that men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them.  100% percent.  Just let that sink in for a second.

When in God’s green earth are ANY of us ever 100% ready, FOR ANYTHING, man or woman.

And if that young college boy, husband, father, you name it, can go after a job or opportunity, when let’s face it, he’s only just slightly more than HALF qualified.  Then, Lillian, you go be Taylor Swift, my love.  Sing your heart out.

If I waited until I was 100% sure, or qualified, or confident, or ready for ANYTHING in my life, I think I’d still be sitting on my parents’ couch.

Half of the success, and let’s face it, probably half of the qualification needed for anything, is just the decision to go out and DO IT! 

I’ve spent years watching other women go for it.  And I mean really go for it.  Start companies.  Leave companies.  Go for the promotion.  Go for the baby.  Write the book. Go after their dreams, full steam ahead.  And I’ve sat in the shadows and sidelines of all of them thinking; good for you.  Cheering them on 100%, all while deep down simultaneously thinking, but that’s not me.

That. Stops. Now.

No more excuses about time and motherhood and money and family and sleep and school pick-up.  That all stops. Today.

And ladies, whether you’re a young mom, a college student, successful businesswomen, whatever, I’m asking you to come with me.  To start today.

Why not me?  Why not YOU!!   Start the company.  Share your idea.  Tell your spouse or significant other about that one crazy idea you’ve had.  Let it breathe a little life.  Run the marathon.  Lose the weight.  Write the book. Quit the job.  Have the baby.  Whatever.  Just go and (I can’t believe I’m actually writing this….) just do it! 

60%.  That’s all, friends.  60%.  And I know every single one of you reading this is a whole heck of a lot more qualified than 60%.

I want my daughter, and all our girls, to see us reaching big.  Not just dreaming big, but going big.  To see us stop censoring ourselves or playing smaller than we really are.  To stop feeling guilt or pressure or responsibilities that we don’t need to feel.  We’ve carried that extra layer of guilt and worry around for far too long. 

You and I are NEVER going to be 100% ready or qualified or sure of ANYTHING, ever.  We need to stop waiting for 100%.

When my first child was born over 10 years ago and I became a stay-at-home-mom, I knew I wasn’t ready.  I had no idea what I was doing.  60% qualified would have been a dream.  But I’m pretty sure I killed it this past decade.  Those four little people are all the proof I need to know that this momma did well.  So if I can do that – I’m pretty darn sure I’m more than qualified for this next chapter.  And my friends, you need to hear this today, so are you

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