March 8 is International Women’s Day and it is my mother’s birthday. It’s a day when I’m filled with gratitude for women in my life and in the world. I’m thankful for my mother who birthed me, my grandmother who birthed her and my great-grandmother and generations of women that connect me across space and time.
As March 8, 2016 came to a close, I felt deep appreciation for the shoulders that are my stilts. Those that came before me laid a foundation that helps me rise to the best in me and then reach for more.
Reaching for more, knowing that I can keep growing excites me. It’s like that feeling you get when you look out across the ocean. It’s huge, moving, endless, and full of undiscovered treasures.
Our inheritance, the commitment and strength of those who went before us, is a great gift. It’s a reminder to use our talents. It’s a call to take action, to make a contribution that sustains and elevates the next generation.
In business this is often referred to as ethonomics or social entrepreneurship. It’s the place where doing good and doing business merge, dance, and make a positive difference in our world.
Ida B. Wells Barnett is a consummate example of a businesswoman dedicated to social change. She was born in 1862 during the enslavement period. At age 16, when their parents died, she became the parent to her younger siblings.
Barnett took a job as a teacher to support her family and keep her siblings together. Later, as a journalist, she used her newspaper to lead an anti-lynching campaign. With her profession, she crafted a movement for social change.
When you read her work, you feel the strength, brilliance and faith it took to become a writer born to parents who were denied access to reading and writing. She was a prolific journalist raising her voice against injustice and leading a revolution.
Wells exercised her right to free speech and applied it to build a better world. Her work as a journalist was not separate from her values for justice and human rights or her commitment to humankind.
We often separate our work from the other aspects of our self. This can leave us feeling scattered as though one part of us is competing with another part of us.
Wells shows us that the entrepreneur, family member, and social activist are all one in the same. They are bound by the deepest values and the understanding that everything we do, every aspect of our self is relevant to doing the good we came to do in the world.
Building a better world gives our life meaning. It’s an act of reciprocity that energizes our life each and every day.
Take a look around your life. Find the thread, the glue that connects your parts and helps you bring your whole self to every day. Notice how you are building a better world by being the best in you.
© Sandra Y. Lewis