Changing the world with 4 simple tools: Vision, Honesty, Planning, and Passion

My life and my Mother’s life are just one generation apart, yet they were starkly different. When my Mother married, she dropped out of the workforce. It was what women of her generation did. Society expected it. Laws allowed gender discrimination in employment. With few options available to her, she took the path well-traveled.

When my Mother was in her early 50’s, things were beginning to change. She took a part-time job at the local newspaper. In a few years, at the tender age of 54, having driven for forty years, she bought her own car. She was so excited. Holding the car title in her hands, I remember her telling me this was the first legal title to anything where the owner was listed as Geraldine C McNeill.

At the time I could not understand why this was such a big deal. But looking back, I get it.

When I graduated from college a few years later, my Mother gave me her beloved car. I proudly walked on the Toyota lot and negotiated the purchase of a new car by applying for credit in my own name. At the time I saw my ability to navigate life for myself as my right. But this didn’t happen by accident. A visionary woman fought a strategic and well thought through battle to change my world.

While I never met her, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed my life.
50 years ago, when Ginsburg started her career at the ACLU, there were hundreds of laws that barred women from credit, employment, education, and more. These laws were seen as necessary to protect women, the weaker sex.

How does one take on a task so formidable? The task of overturning hundreds of discriminatory laws? The task of changing societal norms from a world where women were considered the weaker sex, to one where gender equality under the law is a birthright?

As I reflect on her life, what I see is Ginsburg brought together four simple tools to build a foundation for change.

1. A Big, Bold Vision: Equal application of the law for all people was her ideal.
2. Brutal Honesty: She was brutally honest about the challenges in the current environment.
3. Planning: Ginsburg developed a strategic plan to build the case for her change.
4. Lastly and equal in importance to the other three, Passion.

Her clear and extraordinary vision was equal rights under the law for all people.

She was brutally honest in looking at the massive task before her – inventorying hundreds of federal laws that discriminated on the basis of sex – in education, employment, reproductive rights, mortgages, credit cards, loans, house rentals, prison, and the military.

She developed a plan and approach, modeled after that of Thurgood Marshall on race discrimination, planning for a series of cases at the Supreme Court, each precedent paving the way for the next that would further expand rights and protections.

With extraordinary passion and purpose, she executed her plan and completely transformed the opportunities for women in the United States.
Big bold vision is rarely welcomed when it first arrives. We tend to cling to the status quo. What is known feels safer. As a visionary committed to change, persistence is powered by your inner passion. It is the gas in your engine. Ginsburg modeled her passion and values in every aspect of her life.

To her amazement, she became a legend, The Notorious RBG.

The four magic powers of RBG, Vision, Honesty, Planning, and Passion, are available to each one of us. The tools are simple, everyday tools, free to all of us. The tricky part is they aren’t easy to apply. It takes unwavering faith in your inner guidance to keep moving forward regardless of the external world.

Take this time to ask yourself, in my life, in my business, am I living my best, big bold vision? Am I fueled by my passion? Am I being brutally honest about the challenges and obstacles to my vision? Do I have a clear strategy for change and a plan to get there?

Live your vision. Be the change.