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RBG - Using life’s obstacles as opportunities

By Anna Soussis

Since Justice Ginsburg’s passing last week, much has been written about her extraordinary lifetime achievements - her fight for gender equality and women’s rights. There have been international tributes to her from different colours, creeds and across the generational divide. She has been described as a pioneer, trailblazer, icon.

All this is true.

What I find most inspiring about RBG was her approach to adversity. The legal profession in 1950s America was a man’s world. Despite graduating from Cornell first in her class, no law firm would employ her as she was a woman. In the 1960s she was rejected from a clerkship at the Supreme Court due to her gender.

Despite her remarkable ability, the odds were pitted against her. In a sense, it would have been understandable if she became cynical, embittered or even opted out.

Instead she persevered. She found a ‘way’ – a different way. She pursued a career in academia, founded the Women’s Rights Project, took on private gender discrimination cases, building on each successive victory.

RBG famously said So often in lifethings that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” Rather than accept defeat, she used her setbacks to reassess, reposition herself and pursue a different course. For me, there lies her great strength. She recognised that she could not immediately change the external environment or the prevailing views of the time but she could choose how she responded to them.

This option is available to all of us. It’s not easy. It takes practice. It has become my mantra for the week.

In uncertain times such as these, recognising that we have this power is all the more important. It would be easy to become demoralised with economic uncertainty, ever-changing government stances on the pandemic and the competitive job market. Yet, instead of becoming paralyzed, apprehensive, reluctant to act, I see on Linkedin fellow members creatively reinventing themselves – as authors, podcasters, volunteers, keynote speakers, campaigners.

This is inspiring.

These strange times offer us options and opportunities. Time itself is a gift. We can reflect and reassess the things that are important to us. Remind ourselves of the things we enjoy. Come to think of it, never before would I have found the time to write this article. And for me, this is ‘good fortune.’

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