Lessons from RBG’s early career | Kelly Services
On September 18th, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87 due to complications of pancreatic cancer. Throughout her long career, she was a passionate advocate of gender equality, battling sexism in a then male-dominated profession, to ultimately be nominated as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Often dubbed a “firebrand,” RBG held a rockstar status among people of all genders and ages.
In this article, we’ll summarize some of the most important lessons we can learn from her early career steps.
- Don’t let anything get in your way. After losing her mother when she was 17 years old, RBG went on to attend Harvard. In a field dominated by men, professors never called on the few women in class, and the staff tried to keep her out of certain areas of the library. On top of that, her husband was battling cancer. Not one to be intimidated, RBG became the first woman to join the Harvard Law Review while simultaneously caring for her toddler and husband—and even helping her husband with his own assignments. The lesson: don’t let obstacles discourage you from pursuing—and achieving—your career goals.
- Follow your own path. In the beginning, no law firm was interested in hiring RBG, so she became a volunteer lawyer with the ACLU and a law professor at Rutgers. This led her to co-found the Women’s Rights Project and take on gender equality cases—some of which went all the way to the Supreme Court. The lesson: life is unpredictable, but sometimes opportunities arise where you least expect them. So be aware of what’s happening in your professional arena, and be alert to the next opportunity.
- Work at your own speed. Even when the world around her was changing rapidly, RBG kept moving forward at her own pace. She had a strategy, and nothing could stop her from advancing her vision. The lesson: don’t get swept up in other people’s plans, even if their objectives are related to your own. You’re the only person who knows the steps you need to complete to achieve your career goal.
- Own your uniqueness. RBG’s frame was small—but her presence was larger than life. She also expressed her femininity, going so far as to wear decorative collars with her justice’s robe. The lesson: just like RBG, know what sets you apart—and embrace it!
- Learn how to compartmentalize. RBG knew innately how to separate her personal life from her professional one—and that ability enabled her to keep moving forward, despite losing her mother and husband, and even battling cancer multiple times herself. The lesson: while a difficult one to learn, compartmentalizing will help you maintain stability in at least one area of your life—no matter how tough the going gets.
RBG was an icon and a powerhouse—a lady to whom we should all be grateful for her championing of gender equality. And if you take some inspiration from her attitude, you might become just as unstoppable in your career!
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