I have, scratch that, had a big problem with idolizing and idealizing people, particularly women in business whom I envied and/or emulated. I placed them on a very high pedestal and spent a lot of time worshipping them and trying to be like them. That’s a formula for failure. One by one, they fell off the pedestal, after which I lost interest pretty quickly.
I heard it said that a pedestal is simply a garbage can turned upside down.
What I want to teach aspirants, and what I have so painfully learned for myself, especially in the last month, is what Elizabeth Lesser said so eloquently from the platform of the Women & Power weekend.
- We are all the same.
- Everyone is making it up.
- No one is leading the life you think they are.
I first noticed some clay tootsies several years ago when a celebrated designer was in the news for her million dollar licensing contract with a particular gift company. All the designers whom I was addressing at a conference that year were envious of her ‘success.’
I had the opportunity to interview that ‘million dollar designer’ only to find out how deeply in debt she was–that the contract she’d signed had many loopholes, that she had over-extended herself financially, not to mention her agent’s fees and taxes taking a huge bite out of that million. While her admirers thought she was rolling in dough, she was working overtime to keep up the image and suffering big-time behind the scenes.
I’ve had the privilege of working with many remarkable women (and I am one!) who seem to the masses to have it ALL. But scratch anyone’s surface and there’s STUFF underneath. Stuff you may not want that gets disguised by $$ signs or other stuff.
Please, when you’re picking a role model, don’t cherry-pick. You can’t cook like Julia Child, be shaped like Heidi Klum, play tennis like Venus Williams and be as nurturing as Mother Teresa. It’s not going to happen.
The best and earliest advice I received from a therapist (and I’m proud to claim I’ve been to many) was “Stay with yourself, Jane.” Other than, “Always bring a book and a sweater,” this mantra remains evergreen and one of the most applicable.
That green-eyed monster rears its head almost daily for me. I have several strategies for battling it. I remind myself to look down at my feet, breathe, and get back to doing what I love. I’ll reach out to a wise friend, or jot down a list of what I’m grateful for. Whenever I’m in action, the gremlin departs.
As a result, I’ve gained friends and given up idolatry.