Career & Jobs

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Was A Rebel (3 Ways You Can Be One, Too)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a zealous advocate for gender equality, has died. Justice Ginsburg had the courage to challenge the status quo. As the saying goes, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Ginsburg made history because she pushed the boundaries. Learn these three things from her, and carve a momentous path in your own life:

1.     Voice your opinion.

Judges generally are quiet outside of their written opinions to avoid the appearance of being influenced by anything other than the law. Justice Ginsburg was outspoken on issues, including feminism. She said, “People ask me…, [w]hen will there be enough women on the court? And my answer is when there are nine.” She recently hinted at her opinion of the current political landscape by saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” 

When you feel strongly about something, take note of Ginsburg’s outspokenness and speak up for yourself. Listen to your gut. Not saying something may make you feel worse. Don’t let your role imprison you. Be authentic. Be yourself.

2.     Make your outfit your own.

While in Court, judges wear black robes and generally do not wear or add other accessories. Justice Ginsburg was famous for her collars. She donned many pieces of neckwear, some of which her fans would send her. Some thought she used her collar as a way to tacitly express her opinion on issues before the court and in politics.

Respect the role you play, but make it your role. Bring some personality to the role. You don’t have to be or look exactly like everyone else. Stand out. Make a statement by being you.

3.     Approach issues from the opposite direction.

In the first case she argued (and won) before the U.S. Supreme Court as a lawyer, Ginsburg chose to focus on an issue in which a man was discriminated against. She knew that the all-male panel of justices in 1973 would probably be more sympathetic to learn that men married to women in the military were not entitled to receive the same benefits as a female military spouse. A few years later she won a case that struck down an Oklahoma law that prohibited males under the age of 21 to purchase beer but allowed females over the 18 to purchase it.

To get people to listen, Ginsburg knew she had to frame the issue in a particular way. To get men to listen and understand discrimination against women, she brought to the forefront discrimination against men. She turned an issue that she cared about on its head. She framed the issue in language so that the listener would see and feel the injustice.

To influence people or convince them of your argument, be strategic with how you frame the issue. Think outside the box. Don’t be predictable. Can you come at the issue another way that better makes the recipient feel the emotions you are feelings? Put yourself in their shoes. Coming from the other person’s perspective can more effectively inspire the person to act and create change.

Don’t let a role define you. Define the role you want to have. You have leeway to create change. Speak your mind, dress how you want to feel and tackle issues in unique ways. You have the opportunity to advocate for yourself. You have the opportunity to be your authentic self. You have the opportunity to blaze a trail for yourself and others.

How do you jilt the status quo? Share with me your stories and thoughts via Twitter or LinkedIn.

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