Principle No. 11: Wear your crown by bringing your whole self into your work, sharing your passions, talents, and triumphs in a way that inspires others to persevere and wear their crowns.
Yesterday I took my 7-yr old to Highline College’s Y.E.L.L. (Young Educated Ladies Leading) Summit. The keynote speaker for the event was Erin Jones, a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington. The venue was packed with women of all ethnicities and backgrounds all looking toward the stage and towards a future that holds the promise of both challenges and triumphs. A look around the room was a statement in itself of embracing your culture, your hair texture, your ethnicity and your history without reservation. Though she was much younger than the intended participant, I wanted my daughter to be part of that. I wanted her to hear about how other young women persevered through adversity and how they set goals for themselves. I wanted her to see and meet Erin Jones and know that you too wear a crown and each day we add jewels to it by the choices we make.
The most memorable moment of the day was when Erin closed her talk by referencing the poem Dear Woman by Michael Reid:
Sometimes you’ll just be too much woman.
Too much of something that makes a man feel like less of a man,
Which will make you feel like you have to be less of a woman.
The biggest mistake you can make
Is removing jewels from your crown
To make it easier for a man to carry.
When this happens, I need you to understand
You do not need a smaller crown—
You need a man with bigger hands.”
In that poem, I heard wisdom for all of us to apply to our daily walk at work, in the home, or at school. We should wear our crowns without fear of offending others or making them feel less accomplished. The crown represents what we are passionate about, what our gifts are, our accomplishments and the obstacles we’ve overcome. It also represents our dreams for the future. Wearing your crown doesn’t symbolize a lack of humility, but rather an acknowledgement that each of us has a responsibility to use our gifts in a way that honors the giver of the gift. Removing the crown can certainly allow us to blend into the crowd, but our crowns should compel others to action. Our crowns should radiate a light that inspires and we shouldn’t feel compelled to dim our lights to get acclimated to mediocrity. The crown can get heavy. We should feel the weight of it and not be afraid to have some support in carrying it at times.
I hope that my daughter understands that in choosing to wear her crown comes a great responsibility that involves truth-telling, criticism, and perseverance through trials. Yesterday, she and I were able to see one of the nation’s most remarkable young leaders humbly wearing her crown, feeling the weight of it, yet not shying away from its significance. Like everyone else in attendance, Erin Jones inspired us to stand tall, speak boldly, and confidently wear the crown.
Many thanks to Highline College and the organizers of this event…especially Mr. Rashad Norris and his team of volunteers. I who provided my daughter with a chaperon and attended to our unique needs throughout the day.
Soundscape: Just Do You by India Arie