Being Something is Better than Being Anything

  Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Disclaimer: This is not a political post, though it will begin with a brief summary of a conversation I recently had with a total stranger about the upcoming election. Hang with me through that part, and I think you will find some food for thought.

During a recent business trip, a complete stranger initiated a conversation with me about the upcoming election. She was very excited about her first opportunity to vote for a female candidate, and asked if I was too. I paused because I try not to talk about politics very often, and especially not with strangers, but she appeared to be anxiously awaiting my response. So, I breathed deeply and said "not really." To say she was appalled might be an understatement. After she suggested I was not feminist enough, noted that it was pretty disappointing that a female business owner didn't appreciate this historic opportunity, and asked "don't you want your daughter to know she can be anything," she ended our dialogue before I had the opportunity to explain my answer. So, I'm explaining my response to all of my readers instead.

I believe in the power of aspirations, big dreams, and audacious goals. If I had a daughter or a son (I have neither), I would want them to think big. But I would encourage them to think more in terms of being something, rather than being anything. You see, in our world, being anything typically is associated with fame, fortune, and power. And when we talk about being anything, we often talk in terms of the outcomes, benefits, or prestige for that individual. We say, "you could be President" with a sense of wonder and awe at the status that one would get when holding that office.

But, I think that's all backwards. I mean, can you imagine a young Mother Teresa making it her goal to become canonized as a saint? It's laughable, really. Mother Teresa set out to be something. She wanted to live a life of integrity, compassion, sacrifice, and giving. And as she became something by living consistently by those principles and values every day of her life, she created the life's work that allowed her to be anything.

So, my lack of excitement about the election isn't about Secretary Clinton, it's about the fact that the power of being anything (even the power of being President) isn't what makes true change in our world. It's influence (leadership) that makes the difference. And I would want my children to be something first. And if anything followed, that would be fine too.

Trying to be something, and allowing being anything to come as it may,