What do you think when you hear the word “bossy”? Negative thoughts, right? Recollections of school yard bullies who controlled the handball court, or maybe dictators in your university group work that breathed down your neck.
Or perhaps, you were a girl who was called bossy, strong-willed, stubborn or determined when you were younger? Were these words treated as negative attributes? (Boys, stay with me… I appreciate you were never a girl and will never be one either…but this has an important message for you too!)
The word bossy and all of its synonyms definitely can have negative connotations, and there have certainly been times I’ve been bossy and stubborn*(scroll down for my infamous iced donut episode) and it hasn’t turned out so well.
But why can’t these words mean something different? Why can’t bossy mean that a girl possesses leadership skills, strong-will and determination mean passion and stubbornness stand for an admirable quality of standing up for what you believe in?
This great new campaign has just come out of the US and has all the usual American star power to go with it, but it really resonated me for one reason. It asks us to “ban” bossy. And when Queen Bey tells you “I’m not Bossy. I’m the Boss” it’s time to shut up and listen.
Getting over 1 million plays in just four days, it’s clear #banbossy is resonating with thousands of girls and women around the world too.
Why? Well, I think it’s because too many girls have had their ideas mocked or potential crushed.
Yes, I may have a tendency to think I’m right 99% of the time and I also feel deeply hurt or disappointed when I’m rejected by something or someone, but this stems from a deep desire to lead others, to help those I lead reach their potential and to achieve unimaginable milestones.
The many times I’m told I’m bossy, stubborn or strong-willed (aside from the many times my parents rightfully corrected me!) haven’t encouraged me to develop my leadership skills or explore my passions. It’s squashed my hopes, trampled my potential and pushed me off the ladder of success.
I’ll never forget a remark from my Year 11 Legal Studies teacher when I’d volunteered to lead another class discussion the next lesson. “Caitlin, you’re very bossy and determined, you’ll be lucky to find a man that’ll put up with that!” Whilst maybe this was said in jest, it made me wonder… “Wow, maybe he’s right.”
And boys, this is where you come into the picture. Never, ever fear a girl who has drive, ambition, leadership skills and passion. Don’t feel challenged or threatened by her skills and passions that you need to squash them. Encourage her, push her, lead with her. Don’t let your friends put her down by saying you’re whipped (I could write a whole other blog on the awful language boys use with each other which discourage their value of women!) Let her reach her potential, and be proud of it!
I’ve been blessed to marry a natural leader – a boy who is always picked as sports captain or asked to lead groups at church… but he’s never, ever trampled my potential or desire to lead. He’s accepted that we are gifted in different areas and encouraged me to pursue my particular passions too.
And girls, please, please, please don’t every call your fellow girl bossy or pushy. Don’t let your jealousy or inadequacies cause you to bring down someone else.
True leaders see the potential of everyone around them and bring them along for the ride.
So let’s #banbossy and applaud and encourage the next generation of girls who dare to lead and dream.
*As a two-year old, I may or may not have thrown a tantrum on the ground in front of Donut King when Mum wouldn’t let me have an iced donut. This is a bad example of strong-will and stubbornness. Sorry, Mum!