“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Shirley Chisholm
In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress and in 1972 United States presidential election, she became the first black candidate to run for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party‘s presidential nomination.
No doubt there have been many articles written about Shirley Chisholm, her talent and great contribution to her community and country. There have likely been countless articles on analysing what this quote means for women all open to individual interpretation.
For me when I first heard this quote it just rang so true in terms of women in particular and the thousands of women I have worked with through my involvement as Founder and Director of Kickstart. No doubt it also rang true of myself when I was particularly in the earlier stages of my career and starting business where I was building an identity and finding the right community.
When I think about this quote and reflect on the meaning for me, I take the following lessons which I live and work by:
- We need to show up without asking for permission metaphorically – it won’t always be offered.
- Be persistent and don’t be put off guard even if your approach may be different to those around you.
- That we deserve to share our learning, ideas and experiences so that it leads to improvement and better outcomes.
- We need to be courageous and speak up when we know we may go against the grain. Or may not be liked.
- Change requires creativity and resourcefulness – look for alternatives in terms of a solutions.
- There are times we are going to have to be brave even if we may know the stakes may be high and the outcome not always comfortable.
- There are many different ways to reach a great outcome – be open minded and be curious.
While we will all take away something different based on our own experiences and learnings, taking time to reflect on these words allows us to stop and think how we are living these in our own lived and work practice. Consistently.
What connects in with you the most?