Lessons learned the hard way: One Woman of Color to Another

Jul 17 2019

We rise every morning to a brand new day; a day full of promise and challenges. Sometimes we leap right over one of life’s hurdles. Other lessons we must learn the hard way, running again and again into what can feel like a brick wall, until we forge a way around it. 

In difficult moments we get to practice and build upon our resilience, and we can use that hard-won knowledge to help illuminate someone else’s path. 

Prioritize your need


Janette Braverman

“One area that took me a while to learn was to truly focus on my personal passions. For years, I would take on roles that I felt were needed to advance my career. Meaning, I never really focused on the things that were essential or core to me. Roles that allowed me to bring my true essence to the table.” – Janette Braverman, Dean, College of Business & Management

Building Brave Mentor - Assistant Professor of Nursing at Marquette University

Abiola Keller

“When I started my first position I noticed other colleagues getting resources that I wasn’t, because I didn’t even know they were available. When it comes to making the ask, I have found that focusing on the thing I need to bring me closer to my goals–rather than the ask itself–helps move me past the discomfort.”  –  Abiola Keller,  Assistant Professor of Nursing, Marquette University

From the Building Brave Community:

“I stayed in my career for years wondering why I wasn’t being promoted despite exceptional praise. I waited. And waited. Then I couldn’t wait anymore. A friend asked me What’s the worst that could happen? They tell you there aren’t any opportunities and you realize it’s time to move on? It took me months to gather the courage to ask about advancement, but I did it. Ask once and it’s uncomfortable, ask three times– it still might feel uncomfortable, but it gets easier.”

“You don’t have to say yes to everything just to appease those around you. I always felt as a Woman of Color that I needed to go above and beyond and say yes to every little task. That backfired when I began feeling overwhelmed in my work and personal life. I had to push myself to be more honest, even if it felt uncomfortable.”

“I don’t need to apologize for things that aren’t my fault. There’s a time and a place to say I’m sorry, but I’ve tried to stop saying it when things really aren’t my fault.”

“When receiving compliments regarding professional or hobby work, I used to downplay myself and have a difficult time accepting words of praise. Over the years, I’ve learned that accepting a compliment doesn’t make you boastful or arrogant.”

“I had to learn to ask for what my skill level, experience, and knowledge was REALLY worth. Be ready to justify your ask with industry and position research, your list of qualifications and years of experience, and a list of successful projects. Then learn how to articulate said experience and skills into your own personal elevator pitch. Have confidence in your abilities and ask for what you’re really worth.”

Download Building Brave’s Mobile Mentoring app for more advice from professional women at all ages and stages. Get guidance for your specific situation, or consider fresh voices and perspectives.



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About the Author

Meghan Wollack


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