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Living, loving and leading

Posted on: 3rd November 2016 | Category: Guest blog, Women and Leadership

A few weeks ago, my daughter turned 10. On the eve of her birthday, I decided to reflect on what I had learned in the past decade and share my hopes and dreams for her as she grows into a young woman.

I wrote down my thoughts in the form of a letter to her which contained 10 pieces of advice that I called ‘A List for Living and Loving’.

My letter was a personal one but, having shared snippets of it with friends who are themselves mothers of girls and young women, I realised the advice rings true for all those who want their daughters to aspire to greatness and to be agents for change in this increasingly complicated and at times confusing world.

In this world, where our daughters are often labelled as ‘bossy’, but boys are called ‘leaders’, we should be encouraging our girls to express their ambitions, showing them there is no shame in dreaming big and no shame in falling if we give it our all and if we learn to pick ourselves up when we fall.

In this world, where we are often measured on the valuables we own rather than our own value, we should be encouraging our daughters to be the best they can be, not in the mould of someone else, but in their own distinct mould.

So often we are asked and we ask our children what they want to be when they’re older. The answer usually comes in a comparison with someone else. When I was younger, I dreamt of being a famous foreign correspondent like the BBC’s Kate Adie.

Just a few weeks ago, after Hillary Clinton became the first woman to win a major party’s nomination for US president, I read about a seven-year old girl Lily whose mother wrote to Clinton HQ, saying her daughter dreamt of being president one day and wanted to change her name to Lillary thinking it might help her chances.

Her letter went right to the top and little Lilly received a note back from Hillary Clinton, telling her there was no need to change her name, because if she could ‘dream big, work hard and care deeply’, there would be no limit to what she could achieve.

‘Proudly take credit for your ideas. Have confidence in the value of your contributions,” the presidential nominee advised her.

“And if the space you’re in doesn’t have room for your voice, don’t be afraid to carve out a space of your own.”

To me, the letter transcended politics and ideology, though I am sure cynics would argue otherwise.

 To me, this was about telling our daughters that success isn’t about aspiring  to follow in someone else’s footsteps.

It’s not about being the next female president or celebrated correspondent, though obviously that might be their personal ambition.

If our daughters aspire to be the best possible version of themselves, they will make their own indelible mark on the world, carving their paths with tenacity and vision as leaders in their own right, wherever that path takes them.

Hannah Storm
Journalist, mother, world traveller, Surval friend and girls' education advocate

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