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Are You Ready to Shine?

Some young women have stepped into the spotlight in a big way as millions of us watched the NCAA Women’s Basketball Finals. Ticket prices set new records. Ditto for TV ratings. Women’s sports—they’ve come a long way, Baby. And yet …

Some things are slow to change.

Interesting tidbit from an ESPN profile of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.

Before she was the nationally known superstar she is now, making millions for her name, image, and likeness, Caitlin tried out for Team USA.

“Possession to possession, shot to shot, she played free and bold. Head coach Cori Close, whose day job was coaching UCLA’s Bruins, saw the confidence immediately. ‘Women have been socialized to not want to take all the shine,’ she said. ‘She is an elite competitor who isn’t scared to step into the moment.’”

Women have been socialized to not want to take all the shine. Amen, Sister.

Girls face some serious pressure about being in the spotlight.

You see that in a new documentary about Girls State, the leadership program the American Legion runs as a companion to its Boys State. The girls’ version is not exactly the same as Boys State, however.

Unlike their male counterparts, the campers at Girls State sing songs and bake cupcakes along with debating social issues and running for mock government offices.

The Atlantic describes it as “a program full of girls overly preoccupied with how to present themselves as potential leaders while still figuring out what feminine strength really looks like.”

The girls know they’re expected to get along, to be “amiable and agreeable.” And they grumble about “the fluff” but they still go along with it. Maybe even enjoy it?

Shirley Li’s article explains it this way. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine “saw girls juggling their ambitions with the pressure to be liked. McBaine said she noticed that their subjects were polite and guarded, nowhere near as tribal as the boys she and Moss had filmed. The girls also seemed keen on being competitive without appearing too emotional or aggressive: When friends vie for the same seat on the Supreme Court, they hold hands before their final round of interviews.” 

They don’t want to take all the shine, do they? And we probably don’t, either, given a lifetime of cultural conditioning.

So, can we share the shine and compete when it comes to business?

I think we can. And it comes down to confidence. Self-confidence.

Seems to me the more confident I am about my own skills and talents, the more comfortable I am when all the attention is on me and also when somebody else is in the spotlight instead of me.

As a professional speaker, I guess I’m always in competition with other speakers. Somebody’s going to get that gig, and a whole bunch of other speakers aren’t. You may be in a similar situation where your success eliminates an opportunity for a colleague or competitor. (And sometimes our colleagues are our competitors.)

The person who always demands to be at center stage may be talented, even the most talented, but they seem insecure, right? Trying to elbow somebody else out of the spotlight isn’t a good look for a woman, or a man, for that matter.

We can do our best to emerge victorious and still genuinely care about the others who want that top spot too.

Part of the fun, watching the Women’s Finals was seeing the players, even the most outstanding players, support their teammates the way they did, in spite of setbacks, disappointment, and losses.

At least that’s my view, but then I’m a woman who’s been socialized to share the shine!

I’ll share it with you – just add your shining comment here.