In this day and age, there are certain life skills and lessons that every little girl needs to learn in order to grow up to be a future leader.
How to raise a strong daughter these days is by teaching your little girl these life lessons.
How to raise strong daughters by teaching them these six essential life skills:
1. Be defiant.
Follow the rules unless they don't make sense and you can affect change. Then, be willing to stick your neck out and maybe even risk getting it chopped off.
Learn to disappoint people by disagreeing when you're young and this won't feel so terrifying later. The trouble is that most of us, especially girls, spend our childhoods learning how to blend in and smile pretty. Always running away from the sting of disapproval.
But if you want to make a difference in your work, your family, and your community, you've got to be willing to rub people the wrong way. Learn to disagree with others respectfully and discuss differences intelligently (ideally, not on Twitter).
Get comfortable swimming upstream salmon-style. Be done with integrity and grace; it's called leadership.
2. No one is coming to your rescue.
Sorry Princess Buttercup, but your Westley is not coming for you. Get scrappy. Learn to manage money, parallel park, and change a tire. And plan to do it alone or with a few great friends and AAA.
Your slightly defiant attitude mixed with strong ideals about healthy relationships means you will be picky about whom you spend your life or career with.
You may have to wait for the right partner. You may have to walk away from the wrong one. Know what you stand for. Then, be strong enough to do it on your own and you won't need a hero.
3. Other people will judge you on whether you succeed or fail, so you may as well thrive.
It all looks great on your social feed, but everyone knows you used filters. That's fine. We all know the show's a little bit fake, just like kids know all too well whether they are succeeding or failing based on the looks of disdain or grace on their peers' or parents' faces.
When do we teach kids to make choices based on their core values rather than how many followers they can get? Adults, not to mention kids, have a hard time pinpointing their core values, much less knowing when they change with time and experience.
No one knows your jam better than you. No one knows what job or relationship sucks the lifeblood from you better than you.
A life done well is cumulative. Build yours on a strong foundation that feels meaningful. Add layers with risk-taking, deep relationships, and compassionate acts. What you say, what you don't say, how you say it, and whom you align yourself with end up being a whole lot more important than your "likes" or your GPA.
Smile because you know who you are, even if everyone else only sees the feed.
4. Fear is an irrelevant emotion when it comes to making decisions.
Together with the 3 above, they mean not worrying about stepping out of line with the group — whether in an executive team meeting or between ropes waiting for Space Mountain on the Fourth of July. They also mean taking ownership of your choices and throwing other people's opinions out of the equation.
I applaud kids that make decisions that grown-ups don't applaud. We promote the ideal of fearless individualism as we collectively grow a nation of resume-building middle school kids.
In the end, if you're old enough to have read this far, you are a whole, creative, and resourceful human being. You know the choice you want to make. A good teacher told me, "If it makes you throw up in your mouth a little, it's probably the right choice."
5. Your gut is smarter than your ego.
All of these bold acts taken by our best selves aligned with our highest values will not always get us a gold star. So why do we crave gold stars? I can't think of a kid or ego that doesn't want praise and accolades. But our egos don't make us happy. And every win for our ego can be a crushing defeat for our soul.
I wish I learned more about how to trust my intuition as a kid and was a little less trusting of adults in my life to guide my path. Our inner self is always smarter than the one performing for the adults, bosses or lovers in our lives.
We need to teach kids to notice who they're dancing for. If it feels wrong in their gut, well it probably isn't right, even if it comes with a participation trophy.
6. Being on your own is better than compromising your standards.
This is true in your career and your life. Pick your companions well. A few true friends or noble colleagues are all you really need (and maybe AAA).
Sharon Demko is a Co-Active® leadership coach, Certified Strength, and Conditioning Specialist, and professional trainer.