So What is “Strong”?

Ink on Watercolor Paper – Words: Lillith Saintcrow

Sometimes people describe someone as strong. A strong personality, a strong speaker, a strong leader, or even a strong woman. When we hear that we have to listen very carefully. Are they using the word strong as a compliment or as a euphemism for intolerable? I have learned over the years that the strongest person in the room is not always the boldest, the loudest, or the charismatic leader, the strongest is often the one who is silent, calm, thoughtful and truly listening. They know their role, are comfortable in that role and are content to absorb and process instead of being in the limelight.

In the times of Lillith Saintcrow the role of a woman was to be pretty and silent, here she reminds us that being strong is powerful and better than being useless. I have had those spaces where I felt useless, where my voice was not respected or even expected and it was assumed I would sit silently. Usually after the first meeting that expectation of me was dissolved; I have a hard time being silent or useless. I am glad to listen and willing to hear the opinions of others, and fully expect that I am then free to share my thoughts and ideas otherwise why am I in the room?

How mindful we must be to include others and not let our own biases and low expectations prevent us from allowing others to join the conversation. Everyone has a way they see things and to know that we must shut our own mouths and listen. Everyone also has learned over time where they are free to be themselves and when they are expected to fulfill a role, even if they do not want to fit into the box in which they have been shoved. Strong leaders know when to speak, when to listen and when to ask for the opinions of others even if they totally contradict their own.

Think today about when you need to be strong, when you need to listen, when you need to open your mouth and share your ideas, and when you need to stay silent so someone else can talk. Knowing when to do each of these comes with experience and wisdom. Better to be a listener than to be useless because you are always talking and eventually no one is listening.

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