Lessons from Hillary Clinton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes part in a Center for American Progress roundtable discussion on "Expanding Opportunities in America's Urban Areas" in Washington.

No matter your politics, last night was historic.

For the first time in 240 years, our country has chosen a woman as a major party nominee and now Hillary Clinton is thisclose to being our next president.

I have to confess that I didn’t vote for her in the primaries, I haven’t always liked her, and I don’t totally agree with her on the issues.

But I am awed by her and what her nomination represents, and I think she and her candidacy have huge lessons that we can learn from – and our kids can too.

The power of resiliency

Perhaps you think every investigation surrounding her throughout her years in public life – Whitewater, Benghazi, the email server, etc. – are totally justified. Fine, think that. It’s irrelevant. She’s still a badass when it comes to bouncing back. I cannot think of a public figure who has gone through so many attacks on her character, her abilities, her judgment, her decisions, her marriage, her looks and still picked herself up, dusted herself off and not only kept going, she blazed a trail that brought her to this historic day. I don’t know of a man in modern times who has demonstrated this level of resiliency.

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If I’d been in her shoes after the Monica Lewinsky scandal alone, I would have gathered the last shreds of my dignity and climbed under the covers of my four-poster bed in the presidential suite at the White House and slept until I was able to skulk away to my private life in upstate New York. Forget running for Senate. Forget running for President (and getting beat by an unknown freshman Senator). Forget handling the pressures of being Secretary of State. Forget running for President again and laying it all on the line one more time for your chance at realizing your dream. I am just not made of such tough stuff. And I don’t know many who are. But we could all look to her example and try to develop just a fraction of her dedication and resiliency. Imagine the lives your sons and daughters could live if they were this fearless and tenacious in pursuing their own ambitions no matter what resistance or failures they faced.

Women are more than wives and mothers

Women have long been defined by their roles in relationship to the other people in their lives. Hillary Clinton started her life as Hugh’s daughter. Then she went on to become Bill’s wife and Chelsea’s mother. And when her husband was elected president, she took the ultimate title by association – First Lady. But she shrugged that off and proved to the world that ultimately, firstly, she was Hillary, her own person with her own unique identity, interests and dreams.

This is true for all moms – whether you work outside the home or not. You are more than your role in other’s lives. As valuable as those roles are, as significant and profound and important as those relationships are, you are bigger than that. And you and your unique needs (and dreams) matter. And if you haven’t realized that fact, then there is no way your sons and daughters will see you that way or see other women that way. No one will appreciate your complete value until you recognize it in yourself. Hillary is an example of that.

Don’t hold a grudge

You know that mean mom who makes her passive-aggressive digs or the co-workers who don’t include you in their lunch runs? As Elsa would sing, “Let it go!” Hillary was singing this tune long before a certain ice queen was all the rage. After all, as Senator she ended up working side-by-side with the very people who impeached her husband from office and dragged her into investigations as well. Lindsey Graham, the stalwart Republican Senator from South Carolina, was front and center during Congress’s Clinton crusades, and yet much to his chagrin – and surprise – he had to admit that he got along with her as a Senate colleague. “She is extremely well respected throughout the world, handles herself in a very classy way and has a work ethic second to none,” he told the New York Times in 2012. He’s even gone so far as to call her a “friend.” There is no way that would have ever happened if Hillary didn’t forgive and maybe even forget. Hillary learned or knew innately that holding onto grudges or perceived injustices only gets in your way and has no impact on those who you think have wronged you. If we can teach our kids this Hillary lesson, they’ll not only get farther, they’ll be happier.

So, what do you think? Any additional lessons Hillary could teach kids, or am I crazy for suggesting that she has any redeeming qualities worth emulating? Let us know in comments!

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