Women have come a long way in the world. Our history is riddled with fighting for our rights, overcoming obstacles time and again to get where we are today: recognized as equals with men. Well sort of.
Yet there are new fights in this modern world. Society pits women against each other, making them believe that being the best there is involves putting other women down. Gossip websites and magazines create fictional fights between two female celebrities to create a divide between women. They urge the fans to split into two teams, teaching them that this is how it is in the 21st century. For all our fights together in the past, who saw it coming that we will eventually be fighting ourselves?
What we aren’t taught is that we need to value collaboration over competition. The websites and the magazines don’t tell us this because collaboration doesn’t sell as much as competition. Competition can be a good thing, but we need to see it as a way to better ourselves rather than putting each other down. When we constantly bring each other down, we are only hurting ourselves in the long run.
It’s a mindset problem. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck introduced an interesting concept of having a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset”. People with a fixed mindset believe that inherent traits or characteristics determine if they are or aren’t good at something. People with a growth mindset believe that not being good at something isn’t because of any inherent trait or character flaw but because of not putting forth the effort or hard work to get good at it.
Women with fixed mindsets tend to put success as attachment to personal self-worth and thus have this strong fear of failure. When they see other women succeeding, they take it as a personal attack on their own abilities and value in the world. This mentality breeds envy and bitter thoughts. Instead, we should see our struggles as opportunities to learn and grow and take inspiration from successful women as examples to live up to. That is a growth mindset.
Similar to Dweck’s thoughts are the scarcity vs abundance mindsets that Stephen Covey talks about in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If we believe that there is enough success to go around for everybody, and that a single person’s success does not take anything away from you, we would all be happier people (women) in the long run.
These ideas teach us that recognizing that some people are better at other things is a way to improve ourselves. Have you heard of the saying “If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room”? Take that in and realize what it means. The goal isn’t to be the best but to better each other. Collaborate rather than compete.
The next time you see an ad or a headline that fosters a sense of constant competition between women, do yourself a favor and don’t believe it. Society likes watching us scramble for the latest bachelor, twitter-fight over a non-existent issue, and see each other as enemies but that’s not who we are. We are and could be so much more but only if we raise each other up.
It’s time we realize that once and for all because as history has shown us, women coming together towards a common goal is a powerful thing that creates world-changing results.