Given the opportunity, life’s inevitable struggles can either ruin a dream or pave the way to achieving it.
WomenSource, a nonprofit aimed at creating success for women in North Georgia, hoped to encourage personal and professional success at its Motivating Women seminars on Tuesday.
Fawn Germer, best-selling author, Pulitzer-nominated journalist and motivational speaker, spoke to more than 100 women Tuesday afternoon at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center. Germer also spoke Tuesday night at Scott’s on the Square in Gainesville.
She has written seven books on leadership and success and interviewed hundreds of the world’s most successful, famous and influential women, including Hillary Clinton, Jane Goodall and Erin Brockovich.
While writing her books, she asked the women what it takes to be successful and how they deal with it emotionally. Many of the women in her books shared openly about their own struggles and triumphs.
Her book “Hard Won Wisdom” was featured on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The talk show host called it “very inspiring.”
Germer said it’s important for her to encourage others to reach for their potential because she was once “held down.” As a newspaper reporter, Germer had a passion for investigative reporting that earned her four Pulitzer Prize nominations.
Though she was a successful and driven reporter, she had one “boss-hole” who told her she would never be anything more than a reporter.
After two years of feeling like a victim, Germer took control of her career and life.
Without intending to, her boss and the struggles she faced because of him propelled her down a path that brought her to where she is today.
“The timing was right,” Germer said. “If I had not experienced all the negative things that I had, I wouldn’t have known that there was a need to do what I do.”
But getting there wasn’t easy. Germer’s first book was rejected 15 times before it was released on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. The attacks created additional struggles, but Germer persevered.
During her presentation, Germer encouraged the women to take risks and to pick themselves up if they fall down. She encouraged the women to own their calendars and balance their lives.
She also spoke to the women about embracing their imperfections and learning how to be comfortable as their authentic selves.
Germer encouraged the women in the group to cut themselves a break.
She asked the group how many had a negative thought about themselves that morning. Nearly every woman in the room raised her hand.
She told the women to mute their negative thoughts and to realize that even the most successful women say negative things to themselves.
She said just knowing how many of the world’s most successful women have poor self-esteem should illustrate just how untrue thoughts of worthlessness are.
No matter what a woman’s issue with herself is, whether it’s her appearance, health or bunions, Germer asked the women to love themselves.
“When are you going to like yourself?” Germer said. “When you lose 10 pounds? Why not 9? Why not today?”
After the presentation, many of the women waited for the opportunity to speak with Germer and have her sign a copy of one of her books.
Kelly Orr, a senior at East Hall High School, said she was impressed with the way Germer’s advice applied to women of all ages.
“It wasn’t just to older women or younger women, it was to all sorts of women,” Orr said. “I liked how she said live your life now. She said this is it. Be happy. Do what you want.”
Lisa Lozelle of Gainesville said Germer’s message of perseverance resonated with her.
Other women appreciated being reminded to own their time and stop criticizing themselves.
“I think that with women, a lot of times we need someone to remind us that it’s OK to say no and to be confident,” said Robyn Lynch, chairwoman of the WomenSource board.
Germer said she’s found the hardest lesson to learn is to let go. Plans don’t always work out when or how they’re supposed to, but that doesn’t mean things will not work out.
“When bad things happen I still see that there is sort of a cosmic thing that keeps it all in order,” Germer said. “I say it’s a God thing. Some people don’t go there, but that’s meaningful to me.”