" I believe that our purpose in this life is to grow. Grow ourselves and help those around us grow as well."
- Maria Caldarone
Creator of Women's Brains Matter
The Brains Behind the Challenge Coin Campaign
Women’s brains matter. Such a simple statement. Yet, the reality of our world doesn’t always reflect that truth.
Many years ago, I was in a meeting with my colleague, Ashley, and two men. After the meeting, we called on another colleague (a man) to join us. When he entered the room, one of the other men stood to greet him and said, “Oh good, the man is here. The meeting can start.”
Ashley and I knew better than to engage the comment. We were smart. We were strong. We’d faced similar attitudes before and we weren’t going to let it stand our way. We had a goal and we were going to make it happen!
We concluded the meeting professionally, got what we had gone in there for, and went on with our day. Perhaps a little annoyed, but confident that we had kicked butt!
Later on, I shared the story with my friend Andy. Andy thought about it and said, “Doesn’t he get it? Women’s brains matter!”
There it was. Women’s brains matter! More than that, the different perspectives and approaches women take, the varied problem solving strategies and the diversity of experience all bring so much value to the table.
I’ve enjoyed a successful and fulfilling career with many positive interactions and relationships with both men and women. But that career has also been peppered with “Oh good, the man is here” moments. We can’t always change those moments, or the minds behind them, but we can choose to embrace our strength and take full control of how we respond and how we choose to show up for ourselves and those around us.
We can choose to focus on what we’re capable of and to bring the full energy of our brain power forward, creating what we want for ourselves and making a positive impact for others.
Now, that’s easy to say, but when we have moments of doubt, feel like we’re alone in the field or just need a reminder of who’s behind us before we step forward, how do we call on that inner strength and focus?
When my boys were little, I would often give them small tokens to keep with them for strength in challenging times. Something they could reach into their pocket and hold when they needed a boost on the first day of school or to get through a tough time with friends.
My youngest son especially enjoyed having that power in his pocket. The power to call up his own strength and the enduring support of the people who love him. Years later, when he returned from Army boot camp, he handed me a challenge coin.
The origins of the challenge coin date back to the Roman Empire when coins were given to soldiers to recognize courage on the battlefield. Over the years, that practice evolved to modern day soldiers challenging each other with coins and keeping those coins as reminders of strength and camaraderie; that through their own power, and the power of their army brothers and sisters, they can persevere and accomplish anything.
How incredible is that?
This resonated with me in such a powerful way. How many times throughout my career and life could I have felt stronger if only I’d had that enduring reminder of everything and everyone holding me up? If I could just reach into my pocket for strength? Strength that was already within me, but just needed a little boost to be called forward?
It’s easy to look at a challenge and see everyone watching for you to fall. It can be harder to remember all the people watching for you to succeed, ready to cheer you on if you stumble, and eager to applaud your achievements.
That’s why we created the Challenge Coin Campaign. To put the strength of camaraderie in women’s pockets.
I believe that our purpose in this life is to grow. Grow ourselves and help those around us grow as well. I believe that each of us is the sum of our experiences and that we have the power to create transformative experiences for ourselves, growing ourselves each day. If we don’t like who we are or what we do, we can wake up each day and decide to change. What an incredible power that is!
Transformative change is hard and it takes time. But it is also so rewarding to take those steps, each day, towards our goals.
The Challenge Coins Campaign is about just that - committing to bringing the best of ourselves forward, and reaching out to other women, recognizing them, supporting them and urging them into the global space. It’s about bringing women’s brains forward into the world, increasing the cognitive diversity of families, businesses, governments and organizations so that the best the world has to offer - both men and women - are leading us towards a better future.