Diane von Furstenberg’s initial business success came about in the late seventies as the feminist movement was gaining momentum. And what I admire and appreciate about Diane von Furstenberg is that she doesn’t cast aside her femininity, but rather revels in it, all the while reminding women that femininity is about equality and being able to have the freedom to live the life each of us wants without limitation due to one’s sex.
And while her above quote may sound rather simple, after contemplation, one quickly realizes to become what we’ve always wanted to be is no small feat. In fact, it may be the most difficult task each of us takes on as we go through life.
So how exactly does a woman go about becoming the person she’s always wanted to be?
1. Accept that nothing’s impossible
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.” –Diane von Furstenberg
Science and ingenuity have revealed endless discoveries and inventions that serve as reminders that so long as you can dream it, you can create it. And since necessity clearly is the mother of invention, what do you need to become the woman you want to be? Respect, independence, adventure, love, equality, space? An even more important question, what kind of woman do you want to become?
Become clear about that answer and then let your answer be your guide as you begin making decisions moving forward in your life.
Too often we are clear about what we don’t want – to be thought of as property, disrespected, destitute, trapped, etc – but it is even more vitally important for us to be clear about what we do want – an equal, a mentor, financially independent, healthy, trustworthy, a leader, etc.
While you may not be certain how these wants will materialize, if you are clear about them, the life you seek is more likely to occur. Be clear and be able to explain to yourself why and then get busy moving forward becoming the woman you want to be.
2. Looks may open doors, but brains and personality take you across the threshold.
“The girls who were unanimously considered beautiful often rested on their beauty alone. I felt I had to do things, to be intelligent and develop a personality in order to be seen as attractive. By the time I realized maybe I wasn’t plain and might even possibly be pretty, I had already trained myself to be a little more interesting and informed.” –Diane von Furstenberg from her book
Diane: A Signature Life
The simplest way to become successful in a particular field is to educate yourself. In Diane von Furstenberg’s case, she became savvy about marketing, Steve Jobs had an eye for design and continually capitalized on it to help create a user-friendly computer, and Julia Child enhanced her love of cooking by taking French cooking classes. There isn’t any secret to becoming an expert. The formula is very clear, and it requires, effort, patience and acquiring knowledge. Notice that looks are not part of the magic recipe.
3. Learn to say no.
When you know what you can do, and what will enhance your life, it becomes much easier to say no to things that will not be beneficial. While no one wants to hear “no”, using this power is a way of respecting yourself.
4. Become your own best friend
“The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself.” – Diane von Furstenberg
It is impossible to be genuinely respected and loved if you yourself aren’t respectful and loving toward yourself. Coming to understand yourself, liking who you discover, accepting the imperfections and celebrating and capitalizing on the strengths is exactly what a best friend who loves you unconditionally would do. Why not be that person for yourself? Be the model to others of how you wish to be treated. Don’t cut yourself down, don’t brush aside compliments, but instead refuse to be treated disrespectfully, walk away from those who laugh or poke fun at what you do and most importantly be kind to yourself.
When you model how you wish to be treated – being grateful, extending a genuine compliment, lending a helping hand – you give those around you courage to do the same and not be laughed at.
5. Be able to trust and rely on yourself
Once you come to trust that no matter what life throws at you, no matter how the future will unfold that you can stand on your own two feet, your insecurities recede. Until you feel secure in who you are and what you can withstand, you are easier to manipulate, possibly defensive and have a hard time just being yourself. Give yourself the amazing gift of freedom by creating a life in which you respect yourself and know you can take care of yourself, even if you aren’t alone.
6. Address insecurities
If you find yourself becoming defensive, upset or cynical, take some time to get to the root of the feeling. Why do you feel this way? What event(s) occurred that prompted you to begin behaving in this manner? Upon getting to the bottom of the fear, you can discover more effective ways of moving beyond it.
7. Treat your body like a temple, not for looks, but for health – click here to find out how.
There is only so much our minds can do without a physically able body. Staying in shape is not a vain priority (although, there are always exceptions). By choosing to stay in shape, being knowledgeable about what you eat and how it fuels your body, you are enabling yourself more time to live life more fully and ably.
8. Become more comfortable with taking risks – click here to discover how to become more courageous.
“The best protection any woman can have … is courage.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton
9. Find your voice
“A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.” – Madonna
Mind reading and assumptions are the band-aid used when communication hasn’t occurred. The only way to assure that you will be able to live the life you desire is to speak up. Click here to learn how to better communicate with loved ones or those in which there may be a conflict.
Also, with regards to forging a path for a business venture or prompting change in your community, courage must be found to speak up for that new idea you’ve come up with or the change you seek to make. Find it, practice it, exercise it when it’s necessary.
10. Be willing to work hard
“If one advances confidently in the direction of [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life [she] has imagined, [she] will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” – Henry David Thoreau
Nothing worth having ever miraculously occurred without hard work. Understand that there may be setbacks along the way, you may have to readjust your sails along the journey, but fortitude and grit never kept any dream seeker stagnant for long.
The woman you wish to become is already within you, she’s simply waiting for you to find the courage to let her reveal herself to the world. Find the courage to embrace her and you too will someday be able to utter Diane von Furstenberg’s quote “I was fortunate to become the woman I always wanted to be.”