They say, “like attracts like”. So, when it comes to how you’ve modelled yourself, who would you say has most inspired who you are? EWiF’s Steph Gutmann looks at why it’s important to acknowledge other women, this International Women’s Day.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, which – depending on the type of imitation – will depend on how true this is. I’m not sure Spitting Image is always flattering! But, in terms of those we admire, look up to and respect, we often end-up absorbing some of who they are, and what they know, in an amalgamation of who we are, or who we’re becoming.
Not that we become fully like them – you’re more complete when you are completely you. But rather, we become a smörgåsbord of traits we admire in others, as a better version of ourselves. This could be – and as it’s International Women’s Day, I’m going to focus on women – your mum, a favourite aunty, a teacher who saw something in you, someone successful in a field you’re interested in, or a woman from the history books who stands out.
If you were to think of those women who you admire, and what it is you admire about them, can you then see how they’ve helped to formulate who you’ve become? I know I can.
The idea of Roles Models being important for women, isn’t new. The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship highlighted it as one of the reasons behind why there are less women in positions of leadership. When we don’t have someone to look up to, who can’t always visualise ourselves in their shoes: Be they DM’s, converse or heels.
Psychologically speaking, we want to be assured we can do something before we do it, because we need to know it’s not impossible. Seeing another woman doing what we’re aiming for, is a big part of this. Whether we know her, or not. We just need the confidence to take our first step, by placing our feet in the imprint of those who went before.
But it goes deeper: When there are women in our sphere of influence who are like role models, they encourage us to be better than we ever thought or imagined we could be. Those who know you – friends and colleagues – can often see something in you which you’re not always open to seeing in yourself. I know I have a few friends like this in my life: they’ve been the ones who plant a seed of an idea in my mind, then cheer me on to accomplish it.
And it goes deeper still: Because who you are is inspiring someone else. You may not even be aware of it – unless you’re in a mentoring relationship with them. But, we’re always watching others to know what we can learn for ourselves. So, whether you’re aware of it or not, chances are you’re a role model for someone else. You are admired by someone else, who will draw the trait they admire about you, into the best version of themselves.
So, this International Women’s Day, let me ask you this: Who would you say has inspired you to become the woman you are today? Celebrate them, and allow us the honour of celebrating them with you: They may not be aware of how awesome they really are.