My grandmother never made an effort to hide her disdain for my teenage appearance. Her top concerns: my clothes too skimpy, my chest too flat, and my makeup made me look easy.
No wonder I grew up to be such a bitch.
An enthusiast for mint green pantsuits herself, my grandmother and I were probably never destined to see eye to eye on fashion. Still, I can’t say her beauty advice was all bad. Once, mid Lip Smacker smackdown, she bestowed this piece of femme wisdom: great makeup is about showing off your best features.
Grandma’s wisdom can be applied to a lot more than cheekbones.
A lot of industries rely on self-improvement narratives. Beauty ads are all about reviving damaged hair and repairing brittle nails. Books on leadership focus on 10 Essential Practices Effective Leaders Can’t Afford to Overlook, 7 Things Successful People Do Before 8 a.m., or Why Women Need to Act More Like Men to Get Ahead (ugh).
Feel inadequate yet?
Here’s a little thought-process-makeover from me to you: stop wasting time on weaknesses and spend some quality time obsessing about your strengths.
I’m so over people being more comfortable talking about how much they hate their frizzy hair rather than how great their eyebrow arch is, or how much they suck at networking instead of how bomb their writing is.
Playing to your strengths has serious payoffs. Moving on from self-improvement to self-development means finding the qualities you like most about yourself and focusing on them.
Bonus points if you can subvert societal ideals, obvi. I’m currently into rocking as much of my nonexistent cleavage as possible.
Strength based leadership is also the most effective and liberating thing ever. Leaders often feel a lot of pressure to be superstars at everything, but great leaders know when to step back and motivate others to take the lead.
I’m not trying to say your leadership style or beauty routine always have to be so strategic. I see this as more of an overarching philosophy than a daily mandate. Some mornings I wake up, blast some Gaga as I’m getting ready and I feel this inexplicable urge to wear green eye shadow. Why fight it?