As our economy unravels, we may find it hard to see the silver lining, but U.S. Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn doesn't think so. We sat down with her to talk about her new book Life Equity: Realize Your True Value and Pursue Your Passions at Any Stage in Life to find out why now is the time to assess your life worth.
MC: What are you hoping women can take away from this book?
MB: One of the things I hope women realize is that this book is not about demanding your rights. It's about deploying your gifts and not selling yourself short. Life equity is the sum of your strengths - those things your good at, your experiences, the places you've been, the things that you've done, and what you're truly passionate about. My hope is this will encourage women to improve their quality of life and see themselves as leaders. Many times when you discuss the term leadership with women they will shy away from it and say, "Well, I'm not a leader." But if you talk about their sphere of influence, they perk up immediately. I want them to see leadership as a transferable commodity.
MC: How have women responded?
MB: We have stories and profiles of real women between each chapter. These women aren't CEOs or CFOs - they're ordinary individuals - that have gone on and done something extraordinary to improve the quality of life in their community. Many readers say, "Oh, that's similar to my background." Yesterday, I spoke to a young girl, who had taken the LSATs for law school, and was going to give the book to her mom, read it first, and ended up saying, "You know what? I'm short-changing myself. I'm going to get those applications done and finally apply."
MC: I know that you're also a career-changer - how did you become a congresswoman?
MB: I didn't start out in the political arena. I started out with a desire to give back more than I took from my community and to leave things in better shape than I found them. That is something my parents and grandparents felt was very important. So during college and after, I worked door-to-door selling books during the summer time - it was 80-hours a week of knocking on doors. I use that as an example of the mundane preparing you for the magnificent. I didn't realize then that some day it would help me in my run for congress.
MC: What advice do you have for someone else considering a career change?
MB: My hope is that this book will encourage women to look at the organizational skills they learned while in college serving as president of an organization or the training team they led during their first job as skills they can use in another capacity. It's so important for women to realize because they don't see themselves as leaders and I love to remind women you can assign the title of leader, you can elect a leader but leadership - the exercise of leadership - is an action that an individual has to take. And now more than ever that's what people respond to.
MC: In the book you talk about myths that we use to sabotage our success - can you elaborate on those?
MB: Women think many times that the job will go to the one with the best pedigree and what we know more and more is that it will go to the individual who is willing to work hard and make that time commitment. Another myth that we talk about is that women will say - and we hear this a lot: "Oh, well, she's doing that job but she has information and knowledge that I don't have." But you can get that information yourself but you have to go after it.
Women also think that people are going to cheer for them every step and if people don't, they get frustrated. They think, "Well, I was putting all this effort into this project and it seemed like nobody cared." They have to keep their focus on their goals and not get bogged down or frustrated when people are not standing with them.
MC: Why do you think women do that?
MB: It's because they think that others can accomplish what they've accomplished. A man on the other hand will think he's the only one in the world that's ever gotten it. We have to be bolder when talking about ourselves and our success.
To learn more, go to yourlifeequity.com