Help Me Be Brave, Not Perfect!
Girls are brave. Take a group of Brownies hiking and you’ll see girls climb up rocks and trees, hang off branches, and laugh as they test their limits. Girls are risk takers. Here at Girl Scouts we’ve all seen awesome moments where our girls dig deep and challenge themselves to try something hard. Inspiring girls to seek and conquer challenges, to be brave, has been part of our mission for over 100 years. This is what Girl Scouts does!
Why are we pointing this out? Because studies are showing there is a bravery deficit in girls. Yes, we’re serious. Somewhere along the way our girls are losing that drive to take risks, to challenge themselves, and that’s not acceptable.
Why is this happening? Reshma Saujani, the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, thinks perfection is part of the problem.
Researchers have found that men are more inclined to take risks than women. Why? Reshma (and others) thinks it’s because girls are more socialized to aspire to perfection than boys. Perfection is a giant barrier to being brave. It is an impossible standard that “shuts down progress” and hinders success. And it’s their fear of not getting it right, of not being perfect, that is holding our girls back.
So what’s the solution? Teach girls to be comfortable with imperfection. How do you do that? Here’s a few tips:
1. Encourage them to try things they know will be difficult. As Teddy Roosevelt said “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
2. Praise them for their efforts, not their talents. As Calvin Coolidge pointed out “nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
3. Show them role models like Reshma who are honest about their imperfections and failures. Share your own imperfections too and how you’ve dealt with failures.
At Girl Scouts we’re dedicated to helping girls grow into women of courage. Won’t you join us as we help our girls embrace imperfection so that they can succeed? Let’s teach our girls to be brave.