It was ninety years ago today. After suffragettes fought for years, the 19th amendment was passed and gave women the right to vote. Earlier this year, with an unprecedented number of women running for political office, the GOP declared 2010 the “Year of the Woman”. And no wonder.
n California, business women and conservatives Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorino won tough primaries in California, for governor and senator respectively. Sarah Palin’s popularity grows in spite constant criticism from the mainstream media. Democrat Blanche Lincoln has been dealing with tough, tough criticism in her state (AR) because of her support for President Obama’s heath care legislation. Yet when challenged in the Arkansas primary by the state’s Lt. Governor, Bill Halter, Lincoln won. Closer to home, here in Pennsylvania, five women are running for State Representative, three of them for open seats. In November, 106 women around the country are challenging their state’s incumbents.
Surprisingly, gender has barely been raised and campaigns aren’t focusing on abortion/right to life issues. Instead they’re focused on the economy and the size and scope of government. More than ever before in our history, women are stepping into political leadership roles.
Still according to sheshouldrun.org, “Women are 50% less likely than men to seriously consider running for office, and 30% less likely to actually run. Women are also 1/3 less likely to be asked to run, or to consider themselves qualified. When women do run, they win at the same rate as men.”
In the run-up to the November elections, the women in politics will be all over traditional and social media. Are there lessons you can learn from the women in politics season? Yes, and probably the same ones that your mother and grandmother might have learned from those early suffragettes, including these:
- Values First: What really matters to you? What do you never want to live without? Freedom, love, money, independence…or something else? Knowing what you value is important because without values how would you know what matters? How would you know what your life stands for or defend what’s important to you? And when you aren’t sure of your true values, it’s like the old saying goes, “if don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Lesson: know your values; make a list.
- Vision: When you think of the future, what is in the picture that has “my life” written underneath it? Is it an active woman playing golf, cards, dancing or hanging with the grandkids (or all of those)? Or is it the owner of a successful business, a talk show host, a U.S Senator or something else?
Without a picture that describes what you want (vs. what someone else said you should have or expect) you give up your true self and let someone else lead the way…and maybe not in a direction that you want to go. Lesson: if your vision isn’t clear to you, create your own personal Victorious Vision Book.
- ASK: You might feel comfortable asking your girlfriends for what you need. But do you shy away from asking your boss for a raise or with help figuring out your career path?
In nearby Delaware, Business Owner Kay Gallogly is running for District Representative. She won her party’s endorsement, but the Democratic Primary is a month away and her opponent is tough. Over the past few months, Kay has asked friends, colleagues and supporters for their help in the form of time, talent and money. It’s not easy for her, but Kay honed her “asking skills” during years of doing volunteer work for her church and as a board member for the annual Delaware Women’s Conference.
Lesson: Build your ASKing skill so you can easily and graciously ask for what you need.
Ignore random criticism: Most women seem to be really sensitive to rejection and see criticism as one display of it. Unfortunately, fear of rejection keeps many, many women from stepping up into their own happiness and success. But in politics, criticism is just part of the process. If a candidate can’t handle the negative (often unfounded) things others say about them, they look weak and lose credibility.
In the nineties, few women were as vilified as Hillary Clinton during Bill Clinton’s presidency. Now it’s Sarah Palin’s turn. What do they do? Clinton and Palin may not like it, but they take it in stride as they move forward.
Lesson: people are going to say what they want – whether it’s true or not. Don’t let it stop you. Instead, be sensitive to honest feedback from people you trust and ignore the rest.
If you develop them, these four skills will help you run your own race to be the best of who you are. That’s what our foremothers did to get the vote. It’s what the “Year of the Women” group is doing this political season. Watch them, learn and grow.
Copyright ©2010 Annmarie Kelly
Special Offer: Do you know how to make a Victorious Vision Book or what your values are? Annmarie Kelly will send you the Vision directions and a Values Tracker, free of charge. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with VALUES TRACKER in the subject line.