When you were growing up, was there a female sports star you wanted to imitate? Maybe not? It’s only been in recent years that this is changing. Female sporting role models are helping to empower women by teaching transformational life lessons. Their message is that it’s okay to be unafraid, to be competitive, and to be confident, strong leaders.
Getting involved in sports is helping to empower women in other ways, too. Here are a few examples:
Sports teach that you can do better next time. The fear of failure keeps so many women from even trying. However, failure in itself isn’t humiliating. It actually identifies what to work on to strengthen yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. Sports during the school years teach girls to get involved and do their best. That it’s okay to enjoy healthy competition and learn from losses and wins.
Sports teach you how your body works. You know that exercise strengthens your muscles, including your heart. Your core is toned and your posture becomes more confident. It makes your bones stronger and you experience less back problems. Your hand-eye coordination improves. Girls and women who exercise regularly have reduced risk of breast and other reproductive cancers. Beyond all of that, it also creates greater awareness of the connection between your mind, body, and spirit. And you can use that to your advantage!
Sports teach you to work hard. Laziness doesn’t bring success. Pushing yourself makes you improve and grow. Sports help to empower women as they develop discipline and mental toughness. Oftentimes, we have to do what is uncomfortable to excel.
Sports teach that success is ultimately in your control. The food you eat, how well you sleep, the mindsets you cultivate are all within your control. Discovering this control is a huge self-esteem builder.
“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” – Mia Hamm (Olympic gold medalist in women’s football)
Sports redefine beauty and help you love yourself as you are. When you feel good about your physical activity, accepting your body comes naturally. You’ll see the beauty in a strong, healthy body.
Sports teach teamwork. Real teamwork questions the status quo and searches for better options. You see your own weaknesses and can appreciate the strength of others. In sport, it’s impossible to avoid confrontations and you learn they bring success.
“Some people say I have attitude – maybe I do…but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.” – Venus Williams (Tennis)
I’m so glad to see the shift in women’s attitudes – more and more they no longer focus on the unrealistic and unhealthy craze for skinniness. Enlightened women have discovered that being healthy and strong empowers them to accomplish more than they ever expected in life and in the business world. They’ve discovered that participating in sports has enormous power to generate more gender equality and real social and economic change.
As I’ve progressed in my Cross Fit training, I’ve seen how it helps to empower women through a community and culture where every woman works hard on her personal progress. Women see that they can do it! And if they can do this, they can do anything they want in life.
If you’d love to learn more about how to empower other women, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. You’ll get to choose one Big Goal you want to work on – something really meaningful to you, something that you have carried in your heart for some time. And together we’ll give it life, refine it, and teach you to put it forward with intention, clarity and courage!