Words of Wisdom
Local content creator, writer and editor Susie Ippolito attended the WISE Women’s Business Center’s annual Symposium this spring, and was inspired by the language of the event and keynote speaker, Kathrine Switzer. Susie reconnected with Kathrine after the event to bring us some tips and tricks on how to empower yourself and those around you.
At the WISE Symposium this year, we observed conversations about business, entrepreneurship, motivation and life. As we interacted with women in attendance — all at various stages of business ownership — we noticed language reflective of distinctly female abilities. It was language of motion, of boundless energy, of positivity and of self-motivation. The event’s keynote speaker, Kathrine Switzer, certainly embodies all of those things.
Her keynote speech challenged the audience to be empowered by being a woman — to use the innate qualities we sometimes take for granted to propel us toward success. She encouraged the audience to be aware of how we handle victory and defeat, and how we encourage or discourage other women. The ways we utilize language — both internally and externally — affect how we motivate ourselves and others. Kathrine believes we are living in a time in which this dialogue is beginning to change.
Kathrine is the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon. She ran it in 1967 as an athlete seeking to accomplish a goal. She wasn’t looking to make a statement. The idea was born out of a conversation with her running coach, who was foolish enough to suggest a woman is too fragile to run 26 miles. Kathrine took that as a challenge and jumped at the chance to take it on.
The race started without incident and Kathrine ran until she was attacked by the race organizers, after they suddenly realized a woman was running. The assault was heavily photographed and in papers across the country the next day.
“At the time, it was the worst thing in my life,” Kathrine shared with the crowd at the Symposium.
Women are often propelled by traumatic events like Kathrine’s. It could be divorce, death, illness or that little voice whispering, “There must be something more.” At some point in our lives, most of us will be moved to take a new path. Whether or not we follow that direction is up to us.
“I always try to break women of the, ‘Oh, poor me, I can’t succeed because I’m a woman mindset,’” Kathrine told us.
Women like Kathrine prove positive focus, paired with “women’s heroic capability” and the fact that we are “genetically predisposed for endurance and stamina,” empowers changes that move your life towards happiness. She also noted the need for women to support and encourage one another.
Kathrine is a lifelong athlete and writer, which gives her an educated perspective on the dialogue and language affecting women. She speaks at events and runs races around the globe, and notes that in 2017, women are less apologetic and more positive and grateful for the marathon experience.
“They are openly thrilled with meeting other women. They compare stories and take inspiration from one another,” Kathrine shared.
This is a change from decades past when it was “as if another woman’s success somehow diminished the critic’s own capability,” she continued. “We have come out of that now.”
In her travels around the world this year, Kathrine noticed women now see the need to help one another create “this emergence of self-confidence and empowerment in other women.”
“We women are now thrilled with each other,” she said.
She credited the ways we exchange information and praise for one another as propelling forces toward real progress for women. She champions the cycle of praise and utilizes her nonprofit — 261 Fearless — to pass to other women the strength she’s gained from running.
Women like Kathrine are inspiring not only due to their accomplishments, but because they choose to motivate other women and assure them there is something more. When asked about the habits that empower her as a woman, Kathrine credited her speaking engagements and work with 261 Fearless, in addition to her husband.
We tend to think women like Kathrine — with her boundless energy, focused wit and enviable arms — are somehow more capable of greatness than we are. And it’s true she is an exceptional woman. But her real secret is in her language of ability, possibility, motion, knowledge and experience.
Kathrine became a feminist icon because she had no fear of running the Boston Marathon in 1967. She continues to be an icon 50 years later because she believes and spreads the word about women’s innate ability to maximize strengths and move forward.
Listening to Kathrine speak makes you want to grab a pair of running shoes and sign up for a marathon! Here’s some of her best advice, and ways you can apply it to your own goals:
“You need to just get out there, put your nose to the grindstone and do it.”
• Whatever it is you want to do, make a choice to start immediately. Choose to connect with your goals and take one step forward.
• Get a journal and write down goals and the reasons you want to achieve them. Visit this list daily.
• Devise an achievable task — no matter how large or small — that will get your closer to your goal.
• Repeat daily.
“Free yourself to think how this could look.”
• Open your mind and think only of positive outcomes. Notice if you doubt yourself and ignore it. This becomes easier as you practice it more and more.
• When your mind inevitably gives you a million reasons why not to move forward, play the positive “What if…” game. Ask yourself, “What if this works? What if I am successful? What if I see this differently?”
• Visualize yourself living your dream.
• Repeat as often as possible.
“When you achieve success, your heart and mind know it.”
• Let it land and enjoy it.
• Choose to acknowledge yourself and your accomplishments.
• Make a “To Be” list: be grateful, be kind, be open-minded, etc.
• Check items off your list each time you notice yourself putting these items into practice.
• Repeat daily.
“You meet your destiny when you finish the job.”
• Often, in your journey toward success, you will feel this is the path you are meant to be on. As you start to share your talents with the world, it’ll feel like you are fulfilling your destiny. And it’s true — you are in the process of fulfilling your destiny.
• Appreciate the journey.
• Keep a daily journal of your progress. Record every day — even the tough ones. It’ll become a collection of victories and lessons.
• Celebrate working toward your goal every day. SWM
For more of Susie’s work, visit susieippolito.com.