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Beware of An Idea Whose Time Has Come


“Beware of an idea whose time has come.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It doesn’t matter what side of the political discourse one occupies, Secretary Hillary Clinton’s nomination (and acceptance) has put her in line to become the first woman President of the United States. This is huge! The significance of this is that twenty-one years ago, it did not seem possible. If and when she assumes the presidency, she will have Margaret Wade (of Dennis the Menace fame), and Psychologist Ann Ruben to thank.

In 1993, Ann, who had been studying children’s perceptions of women leaders, surveyed 1500 boys and girls from elementary schools, and asked them what they thought of a woman becoming President. Nor surprising, more girls thought it was possible. In 1995, while her husband was watching Dennis the Menace, he heard Dennis’ playmate Margaret Wade telling him thatSome Day a Woman Will Be President.”

That comment pushed Ruben to contact the creator of the popular comic strip to get permission to use the phrase on a t-shirt. She began selling the shirts to women’s organizations, and because of their popularity, she contacted her local Walmart to enquire if they would carry them. They bought dozens of them, but six weeks later the shirts were taken off the floor because some customers had found themtoo offensive”. Walmart’s head office even said they went against the company’sfamily values”. Well, the people spoke. They rallied against Walmart’s action and the t-shirts were put back on the shelves.


The CBC interviewed Ann Rueben in 1995 when the Walmart story broke. Ann Rueben’s Interview with CBC.

So, twenty-one years ago, it didn’t seem possible. Now we are only a few months away from potentially having the first female President of the United States. How many of us had dreams from that many years ago that are still on the back burner because some people told us they couldn’t happen? How many of us have attempted to bring those dreams into reality only to be thwarted by our own doubts and fears, or by the fears inflicted on us by others?

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ann Ruben said that her father told her “Annie, you’re very smart, and whatever you decide to do in your life, you’re going to be successful. So don’t ever give up, Annie.” Those words gave her the incentive to continue her life’s work of helping to build the self-esteem of girls.

When I launched my mini non-profit Let’s GROW project earlier this year, it wasn’t as grandiose as Ruben’s t-shirts, but it was to encourage women to have a conversation with me, discuss a dream, go after it, and to never give up. Imagine staring at the college diploma of a woman who had a rough life, told she wouldn’t amount to anything, and lived her life believing it. At age 38, and with the help of a coach, she stopped believing the lies, went to college and now has a diploma to prove she is somebody.

Many of us never reach our full potential either because we don’t believe in ourselves or we give up too soon. But, perseverance is the key. When you are knocked down by life’s circumstances, pull yourself up with all the strength you have, and try again. If you cannot do it alone, ask for help. Christian author Dr. Jaime Fernandez Garrido said, “Many winners have reached success by climbing a special ladder called ‘never give up’”.

We are not all Hillary Clintons, and we might not aspire to be President of the United States, but what about taking charge and aspiring to be President of our own lives? You, too, can shatter the glass ceiling of whatever is holding you back. As Secretary Clinton herself said, “When there is no ceiling, the sky is the limit.”

As you reflect on the enormity of Secretary Clinton’s nomination, politics aside, and think of what is possible, may it serve as a motivating force to push you forward in whatever direction you choose. In the meantime, heed Ann Ruben’s advice: “You’re smart. Get educated. Don’t ever give up on your dream and you’ll make it. Hillary made it. She never gave up on her dream.”