I remember the pleasure of spending a special weekend with my 14-year old niece, Morgan, who competed in the National American Miss Pageant. You can imagine my excitement as her name was called and won the title of National American Miss, Miss Massachusetts Jr. Teen 2013!
Competing in this pageant enables young girls from all around the country to harness the power of their true potential. These young girls are our future leaders who are demonstrating that through hard work, dedication and the will to succeed, anything is possible. Instead of standing on the sidelines, waiting for life to happen, they challenge themselves and risk stepping out of their comfort zone, while learning new skills that will serve them in countless ways throughout their lives. They discover early on in order to share one’s brilliance, you have to put yourself out there and take a shot.
When my niece Morgan spoke on stage, looking confident and poised, proudly declaring The Power of Woman, I felt like I was listening to Arianna Huffington speak. Her message was clear, engaging, and inspiring. It went like this:
“Woman and girls play an important and powerful role in our society today. We are mothers, daughters, and sisters. We are doctors, humanitarians and politicians. We are whatever we choose to be. We have the ability to stay on the right path¸ take charge and even do it in high heels! But staying on the right path starts with one word. Happiness. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, but they have the ability to make the best of everything. In order to achieve happiness, we must first be comfortable and confident in ourselves because beauty works from the inside to the outside. As Oprah Winfrey once said ‘It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, the ability to triumph begins with you.'
As women, we have the incredible opportunity to influence every person we come across in a positive way. I vow to always encourage and inspire woman of all ages to achieve their happiness and I challenge you to do the same.”
Hearing these words made me realize how important it is for our children to appreciate just how powerful and special they really are. Instead of looking at what you want to do, look at what you want to be. Our youth deserves to build a foundation beyond just getting good grades. When we can connect to our values, our passions, and our purpose, we gain the wisdom and confidence to build a life that is both meaningful and successful.
Of course, Morgan’s success is also accompanied by past disappointments. This was Morgan’s 5th year taking a shot at winning the title. With each one, she learned a valuable lesson. That when we take risks, there are times when we succeed, and times when we don’t, but both are equally important. The secret ingredient to Morgan’s success is that she remained steadfast and conscious of her inherent worth. She chose to learn from her past experiences, to better her game. She proved that with persistence and hard work and not giving in to defeat, you can realize your dream.