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A few weeks ago, I took my two young daughters to the time-honored tradition of a birthday party at the roller rink. While my girls enjoyed the party, I sat off on the sidelines observing the children at play. I was struck watching two girls in particular – one slightly older, teaching her younger friend how to roller skate. The younger girl, clearly anxious of her tenuous newfound skill, clung to the wall for dear life as she went around. As she approached the 10-foot gap in the rink where there was no wall to hold onto, the girl, fearful of falling, told her friend she couldn’t do it. In reply, the older girl cheered the younger one on, encouraged her, told her she could do it…and finally said, “I’ve got you, you’ll be great!” The younger girl took a deep breath and went for it.  My ears quickly were pierced by the shriek of joy only a nine-year old girl can make, as she celebrated her friend’s success for clearing the 10-foot divide.

As I watched this innocent scene play out in front of me, all I could think of was how genuine her excitement was for her friend, and when as women – as people – did we stop cheering each other on? When did we lose this sense of comradery and compassion and start seeing each other as competition? When did we lose the ability to take a chance, and aim high, even if it scared us? When did we stop encouraging others to do the same?

March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day around the world, with this year’s theme dedicated to making a “Pledge for Parity.” So in that spirit, as you step up to pledge for greater gender parity across the world, I also encourage you to make a more personal commitment — a pledge to care for one another.  As women, we can invest our energy in elevating each other, or tearing each other down. I hope we opt for elevation. To help get started, here are just a few simple ways to ensure we are supporting each other and pushing ourselves to achieve our goals:

  • Say “yes” when your comfort zone is telling you to say “no” – Just like the young girl at  the roller skating rink, you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to succeed. Challenge yourself to try for the role or opportunity that seems like a stretch; push yourself to take on new projects that will force you to engage with new people. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. You also need to believe in others abilities, and encourage the “yes.”
  • Embrace your inner child– Remember the support you received as a kid – as a member of a team, on the playground or in the classroom? There was nothing you and your girlfriends could not accomplish! Bring that feeling back – support your colleagues, encourage them, cheer them on – and they’ll start to do the same in return.
  • Don’t forget to disconnect to connect– In today’s tech-savvy world, we can communicate anywhere, anytime – but are we truly communicating? Don’t forget the value of personal connections when trying to build professional relationships – the ability to read body language, be empathetic and connect one-on-one is invaluable. These connections help you recognize when someone needs your support, or when you need theirs.
  • Pay it forward – Always be grateful for those who helped you in your journey and remember to pay it forward. You did not get here alone. Do you recall the mentor that shaped your career and gave you the lay of the land? Perhaps the friend that thought you could do anything, or the team member that welcomed you when you were the “new kid?” Become that person for someone else.

Hopefully, you’ll find some useful advice here to share with your colleagues and peers. And just maybe, you’ll help “roller rink girls” everywhere become the strong, caring and encouraging leaders we know they deserve to be.

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11 Comments

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    1. Malin Liden

      Thanks Caroleigh, supporting each other is so important – Diversity does not just happen, it takes a conscious effort and noone is going to do it all for us. The ball is also in our corner, and it is our game to win. It starts with truly wanting women around us to succeed, just like the older girl in Nicoles example. Great article!

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    1. Peg Kates

      Hi Cathy – This blog can definitely be shared outside SAP. Life at SAP is using all of their social media channels to spread the word — and you can feel free to tweet it/post it via your own channels, as well. We are also working to place it with some major publications, too. Stay tuned! 🙂 Cheers, Peg

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  1. Jelena Perfiljeva

    Such a beautifully written and inspirational (I hate this over-used word but it suits perfectly here) blog! It reminded me of a saying “one person can’t change the world but you can change the world for one person”.

    Thanks for posting and Happy Women’s Day!

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    1. Nicole McCabe Post author

      Thank you Jelena, I am so glad that you found it inspiring. I also am a huge fan of the saying you shared, and a believer that by helping one you will help many.

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  2. Colleen Hebbert

    Great article

    “Say “yes” when your comfort zone is telling you to say no” is fantastic advice. It’s be a bit of my motto for the past two years and I’m still amazed at some of the opportunities that have come my way. I still have plenty of doubts but I’ll still push myself towards opportunities.

    There is no such thing as luck – it’s all about being in the right position at the right time and actually willing to capitilise on the opportunity – and this can come down to shear hard work.

    I extend it a bit that if someone in the workplace pays you a professional compliment or suggests you apply or take something on then don’t question them or tell them why you aren’t qualified. They must be seeing something in your abilities and if you give yourself a chance you might realise it too.

    Another bit I’m trying it to give things a go even if I know I won’t be successful (huge mindset). My comfort zone is success only which makes it hard to try new things. Recently there was a “mini-election” for a membership piece. I was surprised to have been nominated as other candidates were much more qualified (am not putting myself down here in anyway) so I knew there’d be other people considered before me (am not as well known). But I decided to do it anyway to show interest and take the experience. I was right – I wasn’t selected and I’m fine with that. But you never know, if I keep doing this and putting my hand up/trying new things, I might be successful the next time (or eventually).

    regards

    Colleen

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    1. Nicole McCabe Post author

      Colleen – thank you for sharing this, and I will send good vibes your way. Kuodos to you for trying new things and stepping outside the “safe” zone.  It is not easy. When we take blinders off and start saying “yes” when we want to say “no” for fear, it is amazing the opportunities that present themselves.  GOOD LUCK, keep trying – you totally have this!

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  3. Melissa Best

    What a delightful story and a great reminder to continue to be champions for each other. Everyone needs some encouragement to take the leap.  Great article and Happy Women’s Day!

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