Downton Abbey's photo snafu has been quite the buzz on social media. If you haven't seen it, there is a plastic water bottle in the background of one of the promo pictures. The social buzz got me thinking about all the stuff the show has gotten right. I love so many things about the show: the costumes, the upstairs /downstairs relations and the portrayal of Americans. But one aspect I find most interesting is the role women played in that time period. On the show, they have leadership positions in the home and strong opinions. Violet Crawley, played by Dame Maggie, is probably my favorite character. Her words of wisdom are outstanding.
Here are a few quotes / words of wisdom from Dame Maggie that are great advice, regardless of the time period.
"I am a woman. I can be as contrary as I choose."
The takeaway: disagree. And speak up about it. Diversity of opinion is one of the most successful aspects of any management team. I find, as a woman, I frequently think about things differently than my male colleagues. Voicing those opinions has helped me bring value to the companies I have worked for.
"Don't be a defeatist, dear, it is very middle class."
My experience is that women sometimes are their own worst enemies. We are harder on ourselves than anyone around us. If you think you can't do it, you probably can't. Believe in yourself. You will succeed.
"Life is a game, where the player must appear ridiculous."
Don't be afraid to look like an idiot. Try something new. Go out on a limb. I read a statistic somewhere that public speaking is the number one fear in women. More than death. Or snakes! My father forced his daughters to enter speech competitions as kids. Now, I am so glad. My advice to women: conquer your fear of public speaking. Take a speech class. Don't be afraid to stand up in front of a crowd and make a fool of yourself -- it is a very valuable skill.
While I don't suggest taking life lessons from television, I will make an exception for Dowager Violet. I find it inspiring to find a female character that is strong, outspoken, and a force to be reckoned with. Especially from a time when women had almost no legal rights. Bravo Downton Abbey creators and writers. I will overlook a misplaced water bottle for more great life lessons from Dame Maggie.