As foul-mouthed politician Selina Meyer in Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is all grit. She knows what she wants – the presidency – and will go to virtually any length to get it.
In a previous role as Elaine Benes in Seinfeld, Louis-Dreyfus once mistakenly believed she had “a little grace” but not nearly as much as America’s embodiment of grace Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Characters with either grit or “a little grace” have propelled Louis-Dreyfus to seven Primetime Emmy Awards for acting.
Success for female entrepreneurs isn’t an either-or proposition though – at least not according to SheSays Boulder.
During a recent SheSays Boulder meetup, a panel of five powerhouse female entrepreneurs outlined the importance of demonstrating both grit and grace. According to the panel, you need toughness and determination but also self-love and awareness.
I’d argue that that lesson applies to entrepreneurs of any gender, so don’t be quick to click away just because you’re a dude like me.
Still here? Good!
Here’s how amazing female entrepreneurs balance grit and grace in their careers.
Grit: I will hold you accountable…
Grace: Because I want you to improve and succeed.
Employees can be a pain in the ass – especially if you’ve accidentally hired an April Ludgate. Remember, they’re only human and humans make mistakes.
When they do, will you chew them out or will you coach them up?
Grit: I will ship this product…
Grace: Because I love my customers.
In tech, “shipping the product” refers to a feature improvement or version upgrade. This is a big deal and often requires long hours, stress headaches, and even tears.
We might interpret this as undertaking any major project on behalf of our business. And, any project taken on behalf of our business is ultimately a project undertaken on behalf of our customers.
Grit: I’m a strong woman…
Grace: With a big big heart.
So often, pop culture portrays strong women as cold. This is absurd. Strength and warmth aren’t mutually exclusive.
We can be strong for our business, our employees, our customers, our spouses, and ourselves without being jerks. Strength doesn’t require emotional invulnerability.
Why Female Entrepreneurs (and Male Ones!) Need Grit AND Grace
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride with exhilarating highs and breath-taking (and occasionally terrifying) lows.
There’ll be long hours. There’ll be roadblocks. There’ll be outright defeats.
Like Selina Meyer, you need grit to survive. It takes creativity and resilience. To paraphrase another badass HBO heroine, Arya Stark of Game of Thrones, you have to look death in the face and say “Not today.”
Meanwhile, like Elaine Benes, you need at least a little grace to thrive. You have to ride the ebbs and flows, balance work and life the best you can, and channel your inner-strength to increase the odds of success. You have to build your business on love.
For female entrepreneurs (and male ones too!), the question is not whether you’re a Selina Meyer or an Elaine Benes. The question is: Can you be both?