Abby Wambach’s Advice For Women
If you’re in the business of being a woman, you know that being a woman in business is not straightforward. To navigate that path, a natural starting point is to turn to other women in business. But the higher up you go, the fewer role models you find. Until one day you realize you’re the only woman in the room.
If you can’t find role models in your direct vicinity, a decent substitute is the advice of women in power in peripheral fields. You might be thinking Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi here. Well, I found myself surprisingly drawn to neither of those, but Abby Wambach, soccer star, instead.
Sheryl Sandberg skyrocketed to business leader fame after her 2011 Barnard Commencement Speech. This year, Barnard speaker Abby Wambach seems to be following in her footsteps. Wambach is a retired soccer player who has amassed countless awards: two Olympic gold medals, the world record for the number of international goals scored, champion of FIFA Women’s World Cup, U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, not once but six times, among many others.
But despite her long list of accomplishments, she found herself in an unusual predicament. She retired with a mere portion of the income earned by her male counterparts equally honored with the Icon Award at the 2016 ESPYs, Kobe Bryant and Peyton Manning. Faced with this precarious situation, she recognized that her strange circumstance wasn’t unique to her, but one shared broadly among most women. And in her speech, she reflected on her learnings that were wrapped up in the frustrating outcome of unequal pay.
Failure, especially in business, and even more so in entrepreneurship, is glorified far too often. That we know. What rarely gets covered is that failure is often amplified and lingers far longer for women than for most men. When women fail, that failure sticks to them like lint. No matter how many times they try to brush it off, it still finds a way to follow.
Wambach offers Michelle Obama’s thoughts on the topic that is too rarely touched upon: “I wish that girls could fail as well as men do and be okay. Because let me tell you watching men fail up—it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to see men blow it and win. And we hold ourselves to these crazy, crazy standards.”
The athlete mentality is the best antidote to failure, Wambach says. No one wants to be defined by failure. Failure acts as a strong motivator to bury said failure with success. It encourages you to take that failure as fuel. And maybe, if failure clings more strongly to women than to men, women have more fuel.
(Read More: FORBES)