I just got back from watching The Post, and there were two speeches that really struck a chord. The first was Sarah Paulson’s speech about what made Kay Graham’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers so brave; the second was Meryl Streep’s speech about finding herself suddenly in charge of the paper. Both of them reflect the times: back then, women weren’t traditionally the key decision-makers in big organizations. As I left the theatre, it hit me: my parents raised me to assume that I could do things: leave home, have a career, dream big. Most of my career has been based on the “what the heck–I’ll try it” theory of career planning. I tend to take on the opportunities that are presented to me. (It helps a lot to have a husband who is there to brainstorm with me and who supports the “what the heck–let’s try it” theory.)
For those of you who weren’t alive during the actual event, The Post’s timeline is set in the early 1970s. What that means is that, when I was barely in double-digits of age, my parents were already instilling in me an unquestionable sense that I had no barriers other than my own qualms. (OK, they weren’t right about my having any medical or musical aptitude, but other than that, they were spot on.) What a remarkable gift–one that has paid dividends many times over. I can thank my mom by treasuring her memory, and I will thank my dad tomorrow during our conversation.
We can give that gift to others. By expecting people to be able to take on challenges, we’re giving them a head start for success. If we can also give them the tools to address those challenges, then we can make sure that each generation has more opportunities than the one before it had.