Recently, I watched the movie “The Post”, which tells of the dramatic and tense days leading up to the Washington Post’s decision to publish the US government’s confidential information related to the history of Vietnam War. The story was thrilling and remarkable, full of twists and turns. However, what strikes me the most is Katharine Graham, then publisher of the Post, who survived and thrived in the male dominated industry. What makes her character interesting is her paradox of intelligence and insecurity, clarity and timidity, power and indecision. Meryl Streep’s stellar performance as Katharine vividly displays this internal struggle. She would go to meetings fully prepared but too nervous to even read what was written on her notebook and, instead, allowed her advisor to say the exact same thing. She would second guess herself and valued others’ opinion over her own. However, at the critical moment, it was she who made the difficult decision to reveal the government secret and owned her choice.
Yes, it is a movie; yes the actual events took place in the 70s; yet I believe that the exact same thing happens today, to you, to me, in our lives, over and over again. I was talking to my coach the other day and telling him how frustrated I was when potential clients ghosted on me. “They were excited after sample sessions and I’m sure I’d provided value, but they disappeared. I don’t get it!” I complained. “You are giving them too much power,” my coach reflected. Silence. Mic drop – that is exactly what I did. Although I know I provided value, it is not enough for me until I hear that from the potential clients and obtain their validation. Subconsciously I am looking for evidence to prove my worth, which ended up fueling the ‘not good enough’ story. I am winning at the game I am playing! The story is only powerful as I believe in, and it started to lose its force when I stop relate to it as reality.
Same as Katharine. When she was told time and time again that she doesn’t deserve the position she was in, when her opinion was constantly shrugged off by her peers and the Board, when all the male partners not only looked past her but treated her as she were not even there, she started to believe that it is true - that she was not good enough and not worth it. I am not sure what went through her mind and what fundamentally shifted when she made the critical decision, but I have it that she did it from her heart: her belief of what the news industry is about, her love for the Post, and her integrity of always telling the truth. She risked her fortune, reputation and company for something she truly believed in and that was the battle worth fighting.
I am saying this to you and to myself: Next time you are confused, frustrated, or upset take a deep breath, pause, and ask yourself what made you want to do this to begin with? What is your vision and what does your heart tell you? Embrace your strength from that place. Maybe you are afraid, doubtful, or unsure - and all of that is completely fine and normal! You don’t need to fake it to make it. Like Katharine Graham, you can choose to own your power and greatness in the face of fear; you can choose it now, at this moment, and every moment after.