Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On empowerment: Two more things

As I mentioned last time, I am signed up to give a keynote address on empowerment at the Livingston Young Women's conference which is completely sold out.

No pressure, there. Especially not since I just recently learned that the talk WAS on empowering the next generation.

Never one to back down from a challenge, though, I boiled it down to five words.

Forgive. Learn. Love. Grow. Persevere.

Since the last post was on forgiving yourself and others (including your parents) for not being perfect, I wanted to ramble on this time about learning and growing.

I am 56 years old. I have traveled to every continent except for Australia, lived in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, California, Canada, Alaska, Mississippi, Japan, Pakistan, North Dakota, Colorado and probably several other places I have forgotten.

Never once have I met anyone who said,

"You know, I wish I was more ignorant."


"The real mistake I made in life was learning too much."


"I wish I hadn't gotten so much education."

(PAYING too much for your education is a subject for a different day, or a financial aid workshop.)

If I could only give you one piece of advice to be financially successful, it would be this:


Don't ever, ever ask, "When I am ever going to use this?"

When I was in college in the 1970s, I took computer programming classes because they were required. No one in my classes thought we'd use it. Computers were super-expensive and took up an entire room. I took a statistics class just because it sounded interesting and fit in my schedule. My husband took a programming class offered by the computer club at his university just because it sounded like fun.

We have both made careers writing software and for much of mine it has been statistical analysis.

I studied Japanese in college and when I applied to study abroad in Japan, I was accepted in part because I was one of only two applicants who had any Japanese language and there were two open spots!

Nothing drives me crazier than when someone who works for me objects to doing a task because, "I don't know how to do that."

I want to shout at them (okay, I admit it, sometimes I DO shout at them) FIGURE IT OUT!  None of us that know how to do whatever it is shot out of the womb knowing that. We figured it out.

There isn't a point when it becomes okay to stop learning. Sometimes people will apply for a job and I really want to hire them because they are such nice people but they don't have the skills for what I need done because they got comfortable in a job years ago and quit learning. No one needs VCR repairmen any more. No one needs 8-track tape installers. Do you even know what an 8-track tape is? No? My point exactly!

Read. Get a library card and check out books. Go on youtube and watch videos that teach you how to program, bake cakes, whatever. Go to the Khan Academy website. There is a lot more on the Internet than pictures of cats and Beyonce. Search it out.

Read your textbooks and pay attention in class. For the love of God, you're already there!  Puh-lease don't tell me you aren't studying because that teacher is mean or doesn't like you or you hate her. Guess what, kiddo, whether you get an A or an F, that teacher still gets paid.


There is a difference between being educated and mature. As someone who spent many years as a well-educated, immature brat, I can guarantee this.

What does it mean to be a grown-up? If I ever grow up all the way, I'll let you know. As of now, though, I think every woman as she matures should learn to do a few things better than when she was in middle school. Here is my list, and feel free to add your own.

  1. Take responsibility for your own actions. No one made you drink that beer, slap the person in the seat in front of you or keep you from doing your homework. Unless someone came to your house and tied you up, there was SOME way you could have gotten that homework done, gotten home from that party, got to the job interview.
  2. Consider perspectives other than your own. Maybe the reason your mother, teacher, coach or boss wants you to do something is not because they are evil and want to ruin your life. Maybe they think that staying home on Friday night and studying or practicing soccer would be better for you than hanging out with the cutest person in the 11th grade. I know that is hard to imagine. Maybe that boss is not thinking of you at all but rather of the fact that the store where you work is busiest on Fridays, that's when they make the most money and there really need to be seven people working.
  3. Learn to give up what you want now for what you want most. First of all, figure out what you want most, whether it is a world championships, PhD, singing career, a college degree or to start a company. When you have the chance to go to a party, watch Vampire Diaries or sleep until noon, don't do it and do something in pursuit of your goal instead.
I'll have more to say tomorrow but since I uncharacteristically was up at 9 am this morning, I'd say the thing most in support of my goals is getting a good night's sleep.


Want to get even smarter? Check out 7 Generation Games!

On Friday, you can back us on Kickstarter. I know you can hardly wait.


Unknown said...

Sounds like the speech is coming along great. I find the concept of speeches on empowering women baffling but I appreciate your points and think this is a speech worth hearing regardless of who the target audience is.

Anonymous said...

Thought you'd find this interesting:


Brian Hemminger said...

Hello Dr. De Mars,

I wasn't sure the best place to reach out, but I was wondering if you'd be interested in a guest appearance on my Verbal Submission podcast.

I have my 200th episode coming up on April 5th. If you're schedule is too busy, I completely understand, but I think it would very interesting to speak with you about all things judo, mma, empowerment and everything in between.

If you're interested, feel free to contact me at HemmingerMMA@gmail.com. I'd really love to hear from you.


Brian Hemminger
Managing Editor
Verbal Submission radio

Ventus said...

If i could suggest, on number three in growth: "Learn to give up what you want now for what you want most."

Thats a difficult thing to convey to anyone. People are naturally very predisposed to "get" immediate satisfaction, in many ways. But also, not all time spent otherwise then "working" is wasted... speaking or partying sometimes, or hanging out, -sometimes, or doing nothing, for a little bit. Like, when you are sleeping. :) Maybe a bit sneakier approach would be better.
- i remember very well when someone would try to explain this to me in my young days. If it was presented in any way that looked like telling me i should not party at all... It would end up like as if someone tried to push together two equally charged magnetic poles.

There is something intrinsic to the right of the young to party, to just hang out, to do something else. Its a natural necessity of sorts. Just like afternoon nap makes you think better and feel better after. :)
Its really only a problem when it goes into extremes, just like i think being too focused only on "work" all the time would create its own negative effects... as we can see with a lot of various examples out there, mostly in pages of yellow press. :P
Some people have families to take care of to give them that something else, young people generally dont so they have to find that balance in other ways.

- And also! there was his cool documentary on TED, i think, about how playtime does all these beneficial things for human brains, especially for younger persons and kids! and for development of many useful traits and physique and so on. So its not like im just winging it here! I have science on my side! :D

I think again, its a matter of proper balance. And its a theme i keep finding reading these posts of yours so often. It is connected to how i started to see things myself generally but, i find that its inspirational reading these thoughts from a Judo champion, in that sense. Judo itself being a kind of art of balance, one could say, i believe.

Still, all that said, since everyone are out of balance with too much partying and too little studying they sure need a stronger push all the same. ha.

Ventus said...

I also thought to work in a joke about someone who had so little partying in her youth that she is going around breaking peoples arms and winning Judo championships, Olympic medals and UFC champion belts and all... but i thought i was pushing it enough already anyway. :)

It wouldn't be entirely true since, as far as i understand, she had about a year or so of partying non stop before she decided to do MMA... so being burned out on just partying played a role there too.