The upcoming International Women’s Day this 8th of March got me thinking about the women in my life.
I have met and become great friends with women of different ages, countries and religions. Single, married, mothers, daughters, sisters… all kinds.
Each taught me something great in some way.
As I thought about them and what I learned from and love about them, I felt so much gratitude. I was so blessed to have been surrounded by amazing women all my life – from school right up to working life.
And so to honor them and those lessons, here’s a list of the 11 things that I’ve learned along the way.
1. Beauty is a state of mind
I’ve seen beautiful women feel insecure about themselves and their bodies. I’ve also seen women who don’t fit the “beauty standard” literally hold the room’s attention in their hand.
That’s where I learned that beauty is not about body shape, hair color or fashion; beauty is something more deep and intense.
Don’t get me wrong, pretty dresses and high heels can do their magic but at the end of the day it is not the most expensive dress that will get people talking, but the woman behind that.
Being comfortable in your own skin is the best outfit you can wear – it took me a few years before I really learned to actually feel that way.
Beauty is a state of mind and it all begins in your thoughts and how you feel about yourself.
It’s sounds so simple but yet can be so complex for many – the key to beauty is to believe and feel that you truly are indeed beautiful (no matter what society’s standards of outward appearances may be).
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” Steve Maraboli
2. Embrace your uniqueness
I don’t know why we force ourselves to fit the standard of what we think is a “beautiful body”, a “good mom”, a “cool girlfriend” or a “smart employee” and why we try very hard to achieve (and then maintain) those standards.
After working in a company like Mindvalley for almost 6 years and meeting so many women from so many different countries (we now have employees spanning 30 or so different countries!) I learned to challenge the standard for beauty.
Instead for looking for qualities within myself that will make me fit in, I learned to look for qualities that make me stand out.
So what makes you stand out? Are you a zombie fan? Are you a yogi? Are you a 70’s music groover? Perhaps you’re a serial-killer book series collector?
Because we’re all different, that makes us special by default. In my instance, I’m a huge fan of The Simpsons. It’s a part of me – to the extent I have my own “Simpsons Logic” for life philosophies! Some might say I’m weird, but I say I like that about me.
Be vulnerable, share your quirks. One you appreciate you for who you are, others around you will too. Plus, you might find some new friends with the same interest along the way.
“The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” Walt Disney
3. It’s OK to ask for help
The Super Woman – the one who is successful at work, raising the perfect happy family, looking and feeling awesome 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all on her own accord – doesn’t exist.
Sorry ladies, she’s a myth.
The strongest, most successful and amazing women I know are indeed super, but super for a different reason. They’re not afraid to ask for help.
This was such a valuable lesson for me after becoming a mom. If there’s anytime you need to learn how to ask for help it’s once you enter motherhood, cause that’s when it gets crazy busy.
Do not feel the pressure to be perfect, to always get things done right. Know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
And no, it doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it makes you a better person because you’re smart enough to know your limits, respect your bandwidth, and also choose when and what to delegate.
I know, the delegate part is tough for a lot of us women. We feel the need to do a lot of things ourselves because that will be the only way to get it “right”. But this just creates a lot of competition, frustration and anger (trust me!).
The moment we accept our limits and ask for help, things will magically start to move forward and faster.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Anonymous
4. Nothing beats a good ol’ Girls Night Out
Ah… these are so good. So many great women taught me the importance of this.
These do so much for the soul and gives you a chance to be goofy, relax and unwind, and enjoy some wine and a good conversation.
I moved back to Argentina while pregnant – because I was returning home after several years of being away, I didn’t have very many friends that were close to where I now lived and worked. It was the time I needed friends most and was missing “the gang” from Malaysia tremendously. My unit of friends that taught me to celebrate anything and everything at the same time.
We all have a special girlfriend(s) in our life, so schedule a girl’s date thing. Regardless of busy schedules, always make time for girl time, at least once a month. Your mind, soul and spirit will thank you for that!
“Friends are therapists you can drink with.” Anonymous
5. Never judge a book by its cover
We all view the world from our own lens, our own filter. As such, we tend to see things from only our own perspective therefore, without realising it or not, we sometimes pass judgement or stereotype others.
A lot of us can’t help but do this on the surface level as well – we see a person, how they look, dress, talk, walk and we think we have them figured out. We think we know them. All based on our own belief system.
But if we allow ourselves to look deeper and beyond we will start to notice that our reality is not as we think it seems.
I used to think that a woman couldn’t be sexy and intelligent at the same time. And then I met my lovely soul sister Veena when she joined Mindvalley a few months after I did.
The first time I saw her I remember thinking, “Please Universe, don’t make her table be the empty one next to mine. I will look ugly for the rest of my life.” Lo and behold, she walks up to introduce herself as my new “neighbour”.
Over the next few weeks, I was happily surprised to discover that this sexy woman was wonderful inside and out with a balance of wit and smarts. Once I realized I was wrong in my quick judgment that one couldn’t be hot and intelligent, I started to notice all the women around me quite differently.
Once I released any type of quick judgement, I noticed I was meeting more and more amazing people, all unique and beautiful in their own way, all doing amazing things in work and life. My mind was suddenly open to new experiences and information and this gave me a sense of fun and joy around people.
“When we are judging everything, we are learning nothing.” Steve Maraboli
6. The sexiest part of a woman is her ______
It makes me smile when I see a magazine cover that reads, “10 Exercises for the Perfect Butt” or “The Secret to a Perfect Body”. It’s these types of things that are contributing to the message that boobs and butts are what makes a woman sexy.
Being surrounded by so many different empowered women taught me that the sexiest part of a woman is her… well, this depends.
Amongst my friends, each have variety of beautiful and unique smiles, eyes, hair, legs, and yes, butts and boobs too. The sexiest ones are the ones who are able to find the best things about their bodies, explore it, adore it, and are proud to rock it.
So there is no criteria checklist to be declared sexy in some way or another. Just enjoy being you and the sexy will follow.
“True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows.” Audrey Hepburn
7. Do things with love
When I started to think about the women in my life, I realized most of them had this in common – they do what they do with love.
None of them are miserable in the work or activities they partake in. They’re driven by passion. If they’re not happy, they will find something that makes them happy. And so when they get to do what they enjoy, they put so much love into it.
So figure out what that is to you and gravitate towards that. If you don’t enjoy your job and feel it might be difficult to make a switch, then start by having a hobby that you really enjoy. I know with full schedules it’s hard to find the time, but what’s the point of doing the things we do if we aren’t enjoying the ride?
Recently, I found the quote below and it became my new mantra to remind me this: do something not because you have to or need to, but because you are choosing to do so and therefore, doing it with love with follow.
“Do all things with love.” Og Mandino
8. You can be a leader and a nice person at the same time
In the past, a “powerful woman” was to me the image of a woman with an angry face and a short temper.
I don’t know where I got this idea from, but all that changed when particular friend came into my life.
She is smart with a very gentle nature who always has a smile on her face. I’ve never seen her mad or raise her voice at anyone. She joined the company on a basic level and then grew to lead two big teams from customer support to production.
From the time she joined till she moved on years later, she was still the exact same person. She never changed. She was just as humble as always but she was a very well-respected leader amongst her colleagues.
I realized that she was very secure of herself, her abilities and her knowledge and this contributed to what made her such a calm and respected person.
Through her I learned that one does not need to be “bossy” to get ahead of the pack or to be seen as “powerful”. We all have “power”, we just need to know how to access it.
“Confidence is silent, insecurities are loud.” Anonymous
9. There is no way to look bad with a smile
I know a lot of us fuss over hair and makeup so we can look better, but I’ve learned that the best “makeup” is a smile. You can have your makeup and hair all done, but if you’ve got an unpleasant expression on your face (or bad attitude), you will not be very attractive to most people.
All my favorite people are smilers and indeed, they are all very attractive in general. Their smiles are radiant and when I see them smile, I want to smile too.
A real smile comes from deep inside, from feeling good. And when you’re feeling good and you’re smiling, this transcends in your energy and your vibes and you glow. You will be radiant. All smiling faces are beautiful. Who can deny that?
So don’t forget to smile, and yes, that’s at work too.
I recently read an article about smiling that said, “In a follow-up experiment, published in 2010 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers found that people primed for exclusion showed a greater preference to work with individuals displaying genuine smiles than those bearing cheap grins.” You can read the full article here.
“A smile is the best makeup any girl can wear.” Marilyn Monroe
10. Treat others the way you like to be treated
I’ve met some powerful and successful women and I have to say the ones I admire the most don’t just have big careers, amazing boyfriends/husband and great bodies, but they are also the ones who make you feel like you matter.
This was also a great leadership lesson for me – if you treat others the way you want to be treated, you will see how they will follow you, love to work with you and help you in the mission.
There is nothing more “persuasive” than a person who listens to you and makes you feel like you matter and you are appreciated. You can’t help but gravitate towards someone who makes you feel good about yourself.
“The wise do not buy into other people’s perceptions of who they are and what they are capable of. Instead, they bypass a person’s public persona and see who they are in their highest expression. When you see actions taken with integrity, instead of words only, you will then know a soul’s worth.” Shannon L. Alder
11. Enjoy being a woman
When I was a teenager I used to think that for some reason it was better to be a man because jobs and promotions was easier.
I held on to that for many years but then as I continued to meet amazing women and learn their stories, I saw them accomplish so many wonderful things and were equal to men in the workplace. I am so grateful to Mindvalley for that. I could see so many reasons to celebrate womanhood.
I’ve met women brave to travel the world solo just to follow their dreams; a woman who challenged her own religion to be with the man she loved; a woman teaching art to refugee children in her free time; a wonderful woman who taught me the importance of love and care for your family, and the list goes on.
Every woman I have met has made me face limiting beliefs about myself and life. They’ve taught me to honor the woman inside me and fall in love with myself more and more. Through that I learned to see the beauty and strength in every woman and person.
“I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better.” Frida Kahlo
So here’s to International Women’s Day and to all the amazing women in our lives!
p.s. Here’s a lil’ something to remind you how phenomenal you are. 🙂