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Ignite Ambition: How women can inspire other women

Family Features | 7/17/2018, 1:48 p.m.

Family Features

Having “it all” is a concept women have discussed and aspired to attain for nearly 40 years. Still, the conversation continues because no one has determined what having it all actually means.

A first-of-its-kind social experiment dug deeper into the choices women make in life and uncovered that female relationships often play a significant role. In collaboration with Dr. Emily Balcetis, Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University, Lean Cuisine asked women to define their “ideal life,” as part of its ItAll social experiment.

The experience explored how women answered questions alone versus in the presence of other women in their lives. The results showed that women help each other set a higher bar for themselves. In fact, 89 percent of women set more ambitious goals in the presence of other women.

Despite societal stereotypes that suggest female relationships encourage anxiety, pressure and judgment, this experiment determined that women have a positive impact on other women as an engine for ambition.

“We rarely talk about the positive power of female relationships that we saw firsthand in the ItAll experiment,” Balcetis said. “Women can encourage each other to shoot for more where it matters most, rather than working to accomplish something less fulfilling only because society says they should. Women have a truly unique way of inspiring each other to reach their own greatest potential.”

Balcetis offered tips, which were observed during the ItAll social experiment, to support women aspiring to be the best versions of themselves:

Be a Role Model

Allowing a woman to observe and model your performance, whether in your personal or professional life, is an opportunity to give someone the courage and confidence to excel in her own right. A role model can set standards for an aspiring woman to work toward, while proving that certain goals are, in fact, attainable.

Provide Encouragement

Take stock of the women in your life, including family, friends and social and professional acquaintances. Consider where you may be able to lend support or nudge someone into higher aspirations. It might mean encouraging someone to set or achieve a certain goal, or it may mean challenging someone to take a leap, like applying for a challenging new position.

For example, the ItAll experiment first surveyed female participants individually then allowed them to express their aspirations in the presence of familiar, influential women in their lives. Life choices became less conservative when others were involved. For example, participants declared a desire for higher salaries, chose to work more hours, wanted to spend more time with friends and be more involved with children.

Start a Conversation

It’s been said that variety is the spice of life, and no place is that truer than among women working to define their own ambitions. Engage with women from different backgrounds and start important conversations that may open your eyes to unique experiences or viewpoints you hadn’t previously considered. Arming yourself with that kind of knowledge can help make your own path clearer and encourage others to be a positive force for change.

Learn more about the social experiment and discover ideas to spur ambition for your own life at http://youtube.com/leancuisine.