HONORING RBG THROUGH HER OWN WORDS
This past Friday we lost an icon and a defender of human rights, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also known as The Notorious RBG. Justice Ginsburg was a tireless and resolute champion of justice who changed the world for the better.
Women, if you have a credit card in your own name and your own credit history, if you have leased an apartment or bought property in your own name, if you have consented to your own medical treatment or played a sport in school you can thank Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It feels somewhat cosmic that she passed on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which is time for renewal and reflection. RBG was a Jewish Woman, Mother and Grandmother. She brought a unique sensibility to the Supreme Court that stemmed from her upbringing.
There are so many lessons to be learned from Justice Ginsburg’s life and career. As I sat with the reality of her passing, I reflected on how a woman I never met had such an impact on myself and so many others. I began to research quotes from RBG and I drew parallels between my life and hers. Because of a woman like RBG, it is possible for me to be the woman that I am. Here are some key lessons from RBG in her own words.
RBG didn’t know she was a trailblazer. She acted on instinct and intuition while also being overly prepared. She was quoted as saying, “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”
Believing in yourself and your abilities is not always easy, especially for women, people of color, and immigrants who often face discrimination. Ginsburg faced a good deal of discrimination and challenges as a young law student, lawyer and eventually as a Supreme Court Justice.
As a female entrepreneur and the founder of the first woman owned experiential agency in the United States, I have been subject to discrimination.
RBG’s lesson to us is to dig deep, stay the course and don’t be distracted by negative thoughts and insecurities. You can accomplish almost anything if you remain focused and committed to your beliefs and principles. These things are only possible if you adhere to the next lesson.
Turn Down The Noise
Learning to deflect scrutiny is a one key lesson to be taken from RBG. Ginsburg is quoted as saying, “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
Many times throughout my career I have reacted in anger or with emotion that was not worthy of the situation. As I have become more senior in the business world, I have learned to use emotional intelligence and empathy in business matters. I have also learned to sit on an email or comment for at least 12 hours before sending or saying something in haste.
Look for the Magic in the Mess
RBG once said, “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” Every hardship, set back or problem we face can be an opportunity for growth. I have witnessed this often in my career and personal life. I have learned to dissect a problem with gratitude and leave fear on the sideline. This has helped me weather many storms.
Pick The Right Partner
Her relationship with her husband was a love of the ages and also so unique for the time. Ruth’s husband, Marty, pushed her out front and supported her career. He defended her and protected her during an era when women weren’t known for making such bold moves.
Ruth is quoted as saying, “If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”
This past week I celebrated my 4th wedding anniversary. I am fortunate to say I married a man that supports and honors my ambition and is not threatened by my drive or success. To Ruth’s point, choosing a partner who lifts you up makes all the difference in your life experience.
Unification not Segregation
So much of RBG’s work was around human rights and equality. In the words of The Supreme Court Justice and co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, “Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”
Ruth wanted to bake in equality mentality into people of all ages. When speaking to a group of children she said.
“The children of public school age can do much to aid in the promotion of peace. We must try to train ourselves and those about us to live together with one another as good neighbors for this idea is embodied in the great new Charter of the United Nations. It is the only way to secure the world against future wars and maintain an everlasting peace.”
She also said, “Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake-proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination.”
This lesson is very critical at this moment in time in the United States. We have a leader who is basically saying that America is coming apart and you should be afraid of other Americans coming to get you. Trump’s tendency to cast the nation into camps of loyalists and villains is a movement to divide us and destabilize us.
Now is the time to come together as a unified country for the betterment of all of us. When one segment of the country rises, we all rise together.
I have been very vocal on social media and amongst my peers and family about this upcoming election. I have stepped outside my comfort zone where I was normally quiet on political matters so as to not upset any business and personal relationships I may have that share a different point of view.
But this election is different. There is so much on the line for all of us. I feel it is my duty to speak up. However, I will heed this lesson from RBG as we move closer and closer to the election. “Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” I will choose my words and statements based on facts and not emotion. I hope to sway anyone who is on the fence about who to vote for with the same steadfast focus and fact based information that RBG exemplified when speaking on matters of great importance.
It is reported that Justice Ginsburg told her granddaughter, Clara Spera, that she hopes President Trump won’t be allowed to replace her on the Supreme Court, dictating, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
This topic will be fought and spoken about a great deal in the coming weeks. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have already vowed to nominate and confirm a replacement for the 87-year-old justice and women’s rights icon.
The real question is whether all of this can be accomplished before the election on Nov. 3, or if it will roll over into the lame-duck session of Congress after the election.
Either way it will be a first. The Senate has never filled a Supreme Court vacancy this close to a presidential election. The closest time in the past was when Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes resigned from the Court to run for president and that was 150 days before the election. It is going to get messy and downright diabolical. Which leads me to my final lesson from RBG.
RBG once said, “You can’t have it all at once. Over my lifespan, I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time, things were rough.”
The lesson here is that both life and politics are cyclical. Many of us are experiencing tough times due to the pandemic, politics, racial division, unemployment and above all stress and issues with mental health.
We have to recognize this is a rough patch we are experiencing, but it will not last forever. We have been through equally trying times in the world. And through it all, human civilization and humanity has always persevered.
We will weather this storm. I am feeling optimistic about the passion this election is stirring up. I believe Trump, McConnell and especially RBG’s death are going to be a catalyst that causes important changes to happen both in the United States of America and the world.
In closing, I believe RBG would say to me and the rest of the world, stay focused, stay informed, stick to deadlines, be equitable in your thoughts and deeds and love big.
Change for the better is coming!
Brook Jay. Relentless Visionary. Founder, All Terrain Collective.