Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ten Things Smart Women Can Learn From Sarah Palin

Yesterday, Sarah Palin boarded a plane that took her home to Alaska. It’s what I had hoped for, dreamed about, and was all too afraid would not happen. However, now that she has left the lower forty-eight, I don’t feel all that satisfied about it. I do have a great deal of satisfaction and pride about the outcome of the election. I have great hope and enthusiasm about Barack Obama’s pending Presidency. However, Palin continues to nag at me.

Part of this feeling comes from the certainty that we have not seen the last of her. My money is on her somehow ending up in Ted Stevens’ U.S. Senate seat. I can see the comparison now of Palin launching a Presidential bid with exactly the same amount of U.S. Senate experience as Obama had when he launched his successful bid. The other thing continuing to nag at me about Palin are the many lessons she left for smart working women during her sixty-eight days on the National stage. Here are the top ten things concerning Palin that I will be teaching my daughter:

1. Know your limitations.
Seriously. I can write, I cannot sing. So, I write and I don’t sing. If my daughter wants to be a singer, I’ll check out her singing voice prior to driving her down to the American Idol auditions and letting Simon Cowell crush her spirit on National Television.

2. Appearance matters, but you can achieve it on a lot less than the price of a single family home.
It is important to look your best, but you do not need to spend a fortune to do so. A lot of my professional clothing actually comes from Target. Anything else I own was bought on sale. I will occasionally splurge on a pair of expensive jeans, because, well, cheap jeans don’t make my ass look as good as the expensive ones. However, this is the exception, not the rule.

3. Enunciate, enunciate, enunciate.
The first semester of my freshman year in college, I was fresh out of small town East Texas when I landed in a Speech Communications class. The very first feedback I received went something like, “You have the potential to communicate effectively, but you will have to lose the accent first. No one will ever take you seriously if you continue to enunciate your words as if you were unintelligent.” I immediately dropped all “y’alls” and “dangs” from my vocabulary and began paying attention to how I formed words before they left my mouth. It is one of the most valuable lessons I learned in college. Why Palin was unable to pick up on this when her major was Journalism is an enormous mystery to me. We have a rule in my house that goes like this “Thou shalt not speak like a Redneck.”

4. Your children are not accessories.
If you are a mother, be a good mother. If you are a good one, no one ever needs to see you doing it. They will just know.

5. There is no substitute for an education.
Hard work can get you a long way and without hard work, you probably won’t get far. However, an education teaches you about the world at large. This is not something that you can obtain from on-the-job training. My biggest fear is that Palin will return to Alaska and actually attend a university for the next four years.

6. Confidence is a good thing, but over-confidence can be deadly.
Think about when you first learned to drive a car. You had to have enough confidence not to get run over by other drivers. However, it would be a very bad thing to get in the car and pretend to be Dale Earnhardt, Jr. There is a big difference between being confident in your abilities and over-confident in abilities you do not possess.

7. If you want to be taken seriously, drop the giggle.
C’mon girls. We know this, right? Men may like it because it signals something to them about your intentions, but if this is not the message you’re trying to send to the President of France, don’t do it.

8. Work to find your own voice so as to no end up as a caricature of who you’re trying to be.
Authenticity takes time and a certain maturity.

9. There is a middle ground between Caribou Barbie and a snarling Pit Bull.
Everything in moderation.

10. Hurtful words matter.
And, in my experience, hurtful words are the ones you typically end up having to eat. Speak thoughtfully.

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