If anyone has left a mark on our country’s sense of conscious and been a role model for holding the bar high around issues of importance, it is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With a loss of this magnitude, we have all taken pause to consider the impact she made and what this hole in the fabric of our country is going to mean. Let us also consider what is involved in leaving a mark with our life.
When the “Notorious RBG” as her rapper inspired nickname implied, knew she was dying, her one wish was that her replacement not be appointed until the next president was inaugurated and not fuel an electoral fight. It is painful to see this happening. It is a clear sign that her liberal voice for justice was so strong and so controversial, the political fervor over her replacement began within hours of her death.
We can all learn from the potent mark Ruth Bader Ginsburg left. What do we need to consider if we want to make our life meaningful? Here are some thoughts based on the example RBG has provided with her life.
BE FUELED BY YOUR HISTORY AND VALUES
Justice Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn months after her parent’s immigrated to the US from Russian, prompting her to say in her Supreme Court nomination hearing, that her story could only happen in American. She embodied the American dream. Her immigrant, hard working parents of Jewish faith, impressed upon her the importance of disciplined work, family values and a belief that woman are as strong and capable as men. She was encouraged to excel, so much so, that after her mother’s death the day of her High School graduation, she was inspired her to live up to her mother’s dreams for her. Excel she did, pushing herself to achieve in ways most of us only read about.
Consider for yourself, how your history and values have shaped you and propel you forward. Taking yourself and your values seriously can be motivation to push yourself to be your best, giving you courage to put the strongest version of yourself out in the world. As Ruth’s mother told her “be your own person, be independent”.
GO AFTER YOUR DREAMS DESPITE THE ODDS
RBG graduated with top grades at Cornell University, was one of 9 women in Harvard Law School in a class of 500, and ultimately graduated top of her class from Columbia Law. Yet, despite her high achievement in academia, no one in New York would hire her as an attorney. As she said, “I was Jewish, a woman and a mother, making her inadmissible”.
It was a clerkship with a Federal Judge in New York who got her started, and her positions teaching at Rutgers University School of Law and as Columbia’s first tenured female law professor that gave her the grounding in procedural law that defined her work on the Supreme Court. From the mid-1950s through the 1970s she was a woman doing it all, way before the woman’s movement took claim to that platform. And she did it while addressing constant backlash for being a woman. She was 60 in 1993, when appointed to the Supreme Court, an age most considered too old. She was a consistent trailblazer, a feminist pioneer.
Being clear minded, focused and determined in your endeavors always takes a certain degree of metal. But having the same kind of tenacity as RBG means making clear decisions to move forward despite the odds, and to hold true to your core sense of self as someone who can make a difference in the world. We all have that potential.
“YOU CAN DIAGREE WITHOUT BEING DISAGREEABLE”
It was Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rulings on women’s rights and her dissensions on the Supreme Court that made her a feminist leader of huge proportion. She became synonymous with tough mindedness and willingness to take a stand on difficult issues, wearing a lace jabot to signify the importance of her dissenting opinion. She started her career successfully arguing five gender-based discrimination cases before the Supreme Court and ended her career as a Justice, taking a liberal and many times dissenting stand on every tough topic from abortion and equal voting rights to the 2000 election. Her ability to do this while also holding herself as a lady, as her mother taught her to do, made her words “you can disagree without being disagreeable” particularly meaningful.
Taking a stand and being able to hold it without offense toward others is a class act. It is a mark of integrity, maturity and wisdom to have clarity of thought and behavior for what you think is right without causing conflict. It takes courage to be this strong, something much needed to address the many ills in our society now. Consider how adopting this way of moving in the world would change things in your life.
BE TOUGH – OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a fighter, throughout her life she pushed against the odds. Starting with the death of her mother in High School, her husband’s battle with cancer while in law school and her own battles with heart disease and cancer during the last twenty years have marked her as tenacious. Her statements, despite debilitating bouts of invasive surgery and chemotherapy, that “she was still able to do the job full steam” were shown to be true until the very end. Time and again, she moved from a hospital bed to the bench to illustrate her grit. She was not ready to leave when she did. She took her mission in life that seriously.
My, to be that tough. It takes a determined vision of the importance of what you are doing and a commitment to be true to it despite hardship that have earned Justice Ginsburg esteemed respect. In a time when excuses are made for everything, she never allowed herself one. Does this inspire you to move forward with more determination like it does me? Being tough and committed to your calling may not be easy, but it has its rewards in the end. It allows you to make a mark with your life.
If we take lessons from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we find a remarkable model for how to make a mark in life. While we may not have the ambition to operate on the national/world stage as she did, we can all find motivation to embrace some of the tenants that propelled her to greatness. Be clear on how your history and values propel you forward, go after your dreams despite the odds, disagree without being disagreeable when needed, and be tough to make it happen. You too can leave a mark in life.
Does Justice Ginsburg inspire you to consider making a stronger mark in your life? If you would like to explore it more, reach out. My Transformational Life Coaching and Counseling is structured to provide support and direction. You can learn more at www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link to reach me. I would love to help.
Photo: Anda Chu, Bay Area News Group, San Francisco 9-18-20
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