Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'm not bossy. I'm the boss.

photo by Tony White
Have you seen the new Lean In Foundation "Ban Bossy" commercial?  (If not, you can find it here).

I'm going to try to refrain from spiraling too hard here, but as a girl woman who has been labeled 'bossy' once or two hundred times in my life, I am crushing on this one-minute clip in a way that I usually reserve for things like 'watching my kids meet Santa' or 'eating guacamole', but not because I want to ban 'bossy'.

As a lifelong 'bossypants' and now mother to a boy and a girl, I've given some thought as to why being called 'bossy' never extinguished my desire to seek out leadership roles, whether it was something as casual as being the self-appointed Social Chair of the neighborhood kids in elementary school or deciding to run for and win the school presidency my senior year of high school or now as an adult, directing a staff of 60 to execute a party like the Tony Awards Gala at the Plaza each June.

With a daughter and a son at home, both of whom I want to feel equally empowered to be leaders, I've asked myself why, exactly, I, like many women, feel comfortable taking the lead, and I think I've found an answer. I'm curious to know your feedback on where I landed...



I'm very fortunate that, from a very early age, my parents encouraged me to explore things I was passionate about, regardless of where those activities fell on the gender spectrum.  They facilitated everything from piano lessons to carpentry to my two-year obsession with Abe Lincoln, and as I developed new knowledge and skill sets, I also discovered the attendant thrill and confidence that accompanies hard work and accomplishment, even if that accomplishment was simply teaching myself how to french braid my hair or joining the cross-country team.

Because I got hooked on the thrill of the challenge very early on, by the time the 'bossy' labels began, I was already moving too quickly for the labels to stick. When I was passionate about something, I had no problem nudging my way to the front if I knew I could set the right pace to get things done, at which point 'bossy' became a dismissive term flung about by those who weren't willing to work as hard in order to accomplish the goal at hand.  I knew that getting things done meant working hard, pushing yourself and sometimes pushing others.

'Bossy' isn't mean or aggressive or condescending, 'bossy' is passion, confidence and hard work.

So yeah, I'm bossy.  And I hope my kids are 'bossy', too.

And as much as I love #banbossy, the campaign behind this amazing PSA, might I actually propose #embracebossy instead, because calling a girl 'bossy' will never stop, but then again, neither will we.



4 comments:

  1. Woot Woot! All I will say is that I can relate. Well put. Amen.

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  2. I was called bossy as a child - probably as an adult too. Until I saw the PSA I didn't really realize (or care maybe?) that this was even a negative term. My thoughts as a kid were somewhere along the lines of "well someone's gotta get it done and I have a vision. Wanna call me bossy? Why thank you!" Why ban something that I don't deem as an offensive description of part of my personality?

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you feel the same way. :) maybe we all should start a bossy club.

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  3. I love the term bossy! I don't see it as a negative - it's powerful. I call both my son (7 years old) and my daughter (2 years old) "bossypants." As for me, I've always been bossy. Know what I do for a living now? I'm an administrative law judge. So there.

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