Why do so many girls feel the need to be perfect? What shapes girls’ belief that anything short of perfection is failure? A packed room of 180 Orange County business and community leaders, together with local girls, filled the Pacific Club in Newport Beach on Friday, May 8 for a much needed conversation on this critical issue: girls’ fear of failure and their need for perfectionism as barriers to achieving their dreams.
Voice for Girls 2015, hosted by Girl Scouts of Orange County and sponsored by The Capital Group, featured a keynote address by acclaimed developmental psychologist and author Dr. JoAnn Deak, who delved into the biological differences between male and female brains. Most females, she noted, are hard wired to feel anxiety when confronted with challenges and uncertainty – whereas most males feel exhilarated by the same challenges. Girls can, however, “stretch” their amygdala – the part of the brain that processes memory, decision making and emotional reactions - by acknowledging their fear and taking on new and difficult tasks anyways. She challenged attendees to ban the term “fearless” from their vocabulary. Instead, girls should be encouraged to “hug the monster” and push through uncomfortable feelings that often accompany difficult situations.
Following the keynote, guests heard from panelists who shared their unique perspectives on so-called “failure”: Jerry Dipoto, General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Dr. Michelle Khine, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UCI: and Kim Shepherd, CEO of Decision Toolbox. Orange County Girl Scouts interviewed the panelists about how their careers and experiences have shaped their views on embracing fear and taking on new challenges.
Dipoto noted that baseball is a sport filled with moments that can be perceived as failures. A .300 batting average is exceptional – even though it means the batter got a hit only 70% of the time. He encourages players to view the success of the team as a whole and the “failures” as necessary steps toward success.
Kim Shepherd, whose virtual HR company has been named three years running to the INC 500/5000 List of Fastest Growing Private Companies, has gone through several career changes before arriving at her current position. She shared that she doesn’t consider her previous career endeavors as a Sports Commentator for ESPN & NBC Sports, Foreign Correspondent for CBS News, Director of Entertainment for Club Med and a “near miss” on the Olympic ski team, as “failures.” She encouraged girls to define their own personal best, not hold themselves to others’ standards.
Dr. Michelle Khine shared that her lab at UCI is a safe, inclusive space where students are encouraged to bring all ideas to the table and challenge everyone’s theories – including hers. Failure, she noted, is a necessary part of experimentation and that in science, you want to “fail fast” so that you reach solutions more quickly.
Finally, attendees took the messages they heard throughout the morning and worked together to write an “Open Letter to All Girls,” encouraging them to push past through their fears and take on the challenges necessary for growth. After the event, the messages of encouragement will be shared with 22,000 Orange County Girl Scouts, inspiring them to achieve their dreams.
About Girl Scouts
We’re the Girl Scouts of Orange County. We’re 37,000 strong—22,000 girls and 15,000 adults who believe every girl can change the world. Girl Scouts began over 100 years ago with one woman, Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, who believed in the power of every girl. Today, we continue her vision of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place by helping them discover their inner strength, passions, and talents. And with programs in every zip code in Orange County, there’s a chance for every girl to do something amazing. We’re the Girl Scouts. To volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.GirlScoutsOC.org.
Girl Scouts of Orange County