June 7, 2019
“You Shine, I Shine” is a motto I’ve tried to follow while traveling as a Kappa Delta leadership development consultant this past year. Shine Theory, coined by Anne Friedman and Aminatou Sow, is a term based on the premise that all people, especially women, need to collaborate and not compete.
As a 23-year-old woman, I find myself comparing my appearance, skills and everything else to other women — whether I know them or not. I’ve struggled with this my entire life, and my confidence has suffered because of it. Nothing I did was ever good enough for the impossible standards I set for myself through comparison.
opens IMAGE file One time, I was standing in line for Starbucks thinking about how the woman in front of me had better hair than I did. In reality, we both had fabulous hair! Why was my first instinct to think her hair was better instead of thinking, “Wow! I love her hair AND my hair!”
Most of the time, when I compare myself to other people it makes me feel worse about myself. Too often, women are hyper–competitive and engage in unhealthy behaviors by tearing each other down instead of building each other up. Success isn’t finite and there is enough to go around. Someone living their best life doesn’t take away from my ability to live my best life.
I continued to compare myself to my friends, co-workers and random people in Starbucks until this year when I found my niche and recognized what I was good at. It took a lot of self-exploration, reflection and challenges to realize that I shine at showing compassion at the heart of everything I do. It’s what sets me apart. I try to lead with compassion, serve with compassion and build relationships on the foundation of compassion. Sometimes, I wish I was more courageous or more professional instead of being compassionate. But just because someone is more courageous or professional than I am, it doesn’t make them better. And because I live with compassion, I’m not better than anyone else. The world is a better and brighter place when we all shine together and collaborate. Recognize what you shine at and own the awesomeness it adds to other people’s lives, while thanking others for adding to your life, too.
I am better because of all the women who support me and shine with me. I learn from them and push myself to be better. When they shine, I shine. So, next time you find yourself comparing your hair to the woman in front of you in line at Starbucks, give her a compliment and know that you are shining just as much as she is.
Senior Leadership Development Consultant