The Lessons of Perseverance in Leadership as Women
Updated: May 22
Fortitude does not howl; it does not clamor nor growl. Instead, fortitude is the hushed voice that plainly says get up and try again tomorrow.
When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson appeared at her confirmation hearing, I saw a woman who embodies grace, empathy, and gratitude. I watched a woman who is the epithet of intellectual brilliance, beauty, graciousness, and genuine regality. I saw an exemplification of American exceptionalism, black excellence, and achievement.
I listened to one of the classiest humans who operated with marvelous grace and graciousness. I saw a woman whose indelible mark with extraordinary talent will bend history and shine a light so bright for others to follow, even myself. I heard a woman who has persevered time and time again.
As I watched and listened to her confirmation hearing, I realized that whether or not she is confirmed, her fortitude and presence have already altered the lives of so many of us. Where there was no opportunity, she constructed one for us that was not there before. By using her leadership voice, Ketanji Brown Jackson has provided a light in the dark for change to transpire, and as these lights burn magnificently. It has and will continue to lead the way for others for years to come. She has cemented the path for the next woman of color in any leadership role. The key is that we must persevere.
I wasn't ready for the profound emotional response her confirmation had on me. Post-haste, my thoughts went to the history and legacy that this woman was carrying on her shoulder. The exceptional, remarkable, formidable, and worthy moment she was stepping in. The sheer amount of courage, bravery, and stalwart it took to be prepared to meet such a big moment, which she met with such rectitude, excellence, gracefulness, and gentleness. Ketanji Brown Jackson meeting the moment is part of the destiny she designed for herself and the generations of women to come after her.
Her moment displayed for me all of the opportunities that await us all when we choose to follow our dreams, even despite them looking impossible to achieve. Watching and listening to her reminded me again of who I want to be and my desire to be a part of history.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was not stepping into those hearings; she was standing on the shoulders of generations and generations of women who had the courage, drive, and willingness to fight for their freedom. Women who used their voices to transform lives that helped bring about freedoms to make the world and our country more inclusive. They fought to have a seat at the table and created opportunities when there were none so that future generations, such as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, could shatter the glass ceiling.
What is perseverance?
Perseverance can be denoted as persistence, resoluteness, determination in accomplishing a goal or objective in defiance of, notwithstanding, and undeterred by challenges, difficulties, or delay in reaching a goal.
My own experience with perseverance
When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's eyes moistened during her confirmation hearing, I was transported to the many moments in my life's journey that I have felt those tears about to fall.
I was brought back to the memories of my professional and personal setbacks or opportunities I had lost for various reasons. I remembered those days vividly. To prevent myself from unraveling at work, I would get in my car and drive somewhere so none of my coworkers and managers could see me cry. I remember breaking down in my car while my best friend or mentors would talk me out of resigning from my job or making a reckless decision.
They encouraged me to persevere and remember my dreams. Many years later, I realized that those impediments and obstructions were necessary. It was a part of my destiny, and I did not know it at the time. These adversities and barriers led me to this moment so that I could write.
I am grateful I had mentors and a village that would not let me give up on my dreams. Instead, when I faced a constant string of difficulties, adversities, or closed doors, they challenged me to find another door that would open for me.
In those low moments when I did not want to get up, they pushed and forced me to. I am where I am today because of perseverance. All these years later, I can honestly say I am so thankful for my unanswered prayers because all those opportunities that did not work out for me put me at the right place and the right time to meet the love of my life, opening doors and opportunities I had never imagined; I just had to persevere.
When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked what advice she would give to this generation, she said, "I would tell them to persevere."
To anyone reading this blog who faces setbacks or hindrances in accomplishing your dream - please do not give up. The generations of women who came before us always looked behind to see who was there, who needed help, and they pulled them up. When there was no opportunity, they created one to make our path much more accessible. They were only able to do that because they preserved. Therefore, we must continue to develop new opportunities for the next generation of women that will need our help to shatter the glass ceiling.