I enjoy words a lot. I get word of the day pop up every morning from dictionary.com, I play Wordle every day, love crosswords and particularly love playing scrabble with my Mum-in-Law (she beats me all the time!) As a kid, I loved thumbing through the big red Oxford Dictionary that my parents had to learn new words and their meaning. I was a regular at the library and more regularly called a bookworm. I wasn’t audacious though. That came much later.
I was a long time judge for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. During my judging tenure, I had the privilege to interview a finalist who used the word audacious when I asked her to describe her approach to business. She told me that she uses audacious as a word to help her be focussed, courageous and always be moving herself, her business and her cause forward. It defined her approach to life and leadership. I shamelessly wrote that down, because I know that this was something for me to ponder on. More on that later.
What Does Being Audacious Look Like?
According to Dictionary.com audacious (as an adjective) means
- extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless: an audacious explorer.
- extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive: an audacious vision of the city’s bright future.
- recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent; brazen.
- lively; unrestrained; uninhibited: an audacious interpretation of her role.
Which version do you identify most with? I like #3 as it uses words like defiance and insolence. It reminds me of the quote “Well behaved women rarely make history” which I have a mixed relationship with. I man, who made the damned rules that said women need to be well behaved anyway?
Let’s face it, without audacious acts by defiant and insolent women, we wouldn’t have the vote, we would still be expected to stop work when we got married and have children, we wouldn’t have equal pay …oh wait! See, there is still lots of opportunity for more audacious acts by audacious women!
What Being Audacious Sounds Like
My favourite act of audacity was by the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. She took then opposition leader, Tony Abbott, to task for his unrelenting sexism and misogyny directed towards her. Her audacious act to stand up at Parliament question time and call out revolting behaviour by this powerful and influential man, as well as the disgusting behaviour by other men. It shocked and inspired me then and continues to inspire me today.
Prime Minister Gillard’s now legendary speech brought about a change in the meaning of the world ‘misogyny’ in the dictionary. The term used to mean a general ‘hatred towards women‘ but has now changed to ‘Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women‘. Something that so many of us have to deal with on a day to day basis. Particularly if you are an outspoken audacious feminist woman on Twitter!
I Decided to Be More Audacious
The Misogyny Speech has galvanised me into action more times that I can recall. As I write this, it is more than 10 years since that speech, however I have watched it time and time again to inspire me.
Back to my interview with the audacious businesswoman. I decided that week of that interview, that I would undertake to be far more audacious. That year I resolved to make one act of audacity every day. You know, those acts, actions or thoughts that you secretly harbour but consciously think, oh I couldn’t or shouldn’t do that. Here’s some of what I did:
- Called upon a Federal politician to get her involved in a new venture. (it worked)
- Asked a high-profile woman of substance to support me a cause that is important. (it worked)
- Pushed back hard on a matter of injustice and inequity. (it’s a work in progress!)
- Asked to be included in an initiative that means a lot to me. (it’s a work in progress)
When Resolve Wavers
Each time I wavered in my resolve, I called upon that word audacity and the audacious women who have gone before me. I also took some of my own advice, after all, what’s the worst thing that can happen if I do?
It goes to show that we are always learning and have the ability to be inspired to be a bigger bolder version of ourselves each day. I thank that businesswoman who inspired me many years ago. She inspired me to make some big courageous bold moves that help me reach more women, connect with more organisations and help to have a more significant impact towards achieving a gender equal world. She helped me look and sound more audacious every single day.
What audacious act will you undertake this week?
Here’s some watching, reading and listening courtesy of audacious women that might inspire you:
If you’d like to create a workplace culture that embraces audacious women, then have a chat with me.