Om. Om. In yoga, mantras are used to set the intention for the workout and the goals you want to achieve by the end of your session. The repetitive sound vibrations literally raise your consciousness and help you focus in on the words you’re vocalizing.
You know who else could use that kind of mindfulness? Working women.
You’re not always going to feel like you can give 120 percent. So, right before you walk into an important meeting or give that presentation you worked so hard on, channel your inner yogi and repeat a mantra to yourself. Think of it as your life motto, a reminder of your purpose. Repeating those few little words can completely lift your spirits and instill a deep sense of confidence and determination.
Don’t have a mantra yet? Here are some examples from nine serious powerhouse women:
Media executive Lisa Gersh has a resume for the books. She cofounded Oxygen Media and subsequently served as the company’s president and COO. After selling Oxygen to NBC, she served as president of strategic initiatives at NBCUniversal and then CEO of Martha Stewart Living, goop.com, and Alexander Wang. What does she attribute her success to? Saying yes.
During an interview with MyDomaine, Gersh said her former Oxygen partner, Gerry Laybourne, encouraged her to “learn how to say yes.” She explained, “Learn how to say yes to an idea and make it work. It does not mean that you will agree with every idea and implement them, but you will always work through the idea, and by saying yes, your team will come to you with their best thinking. The more ideas you kill with no, the fewer you will receive.”
I’ll tell you what I want, what I really want—Victoria Beckham’s confident attitude. After rising to fame as Posh Spice in the all-women band Spice Girls, Beckham followed her passion for style and created her own fashion label. Her brand has been extremely successful, with showcases in London Fashion Week, and it landed her the opportunity to guest edit French Vogue.
In an interview with Elle, she revealed that her personal mantra is “I know what I want.” During the opening of her flagship store, she repeated the affirmation at least seven times.
We all know Reese Witherspoon is an incredibly successful actress (still praying for a third season of Big Little Lies), but some might not know she’s also an entrepreneur and producer. She’s launched a production company, Hello Sunshine, and a clothing company, Draper James. In addition to her business ventures, she’s involved in several women’s and children’s advocacy groups and has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
She told Working Mother that she still follows her father’s motto, “You gotta make hay while the sun shines.” In other words, seize the day and get sh*t done.
She also revealed to The New York Times her motto for staying positive: “All those things that you’re worried about aren’t important. You’re going to be okay. Better than okay. You’re going to be great. Spend less time tearing yourself apart, worrying if you’re good enough. You are good enough. And you’re going to meet amazing people in your life who will help you and love you.”
Sheryl Sandberg is another working woman to look up to—she’s a technology executive and successful author. She currently serves as the chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org, a global community dedicated to helping women realize their goals. In addition to her role as COO, she’s also the first woman to serve on the company’s board.
In line with the name of her organization, her mantra is “lean in.” It’s important to work wholeheartedly and she explains in her book that as a woman, it’s important to think about and share ways with one another on how we can improve our professional and personal lives to better obtain our goals.
Obviously Michelle Obama is the former First Lady, but she is so much more than just that. She’s a super successful lawyer, university administrator, and author (hello if you still haven’t read Becoming —drop what you’re doing and go buy it). Plus, she’s been an ardent supporter of women’s rights and gender equality.
Although her mantra, “when they go low, we go high,” is rooted in politics, it transcends everything she does. When Obama was targeted and criticized in the media, she kept holding her head high and never let her abusers get her down. That’s a lesson we can all learn from.
Yeah, so, the Harry Potter series author is a pretty dang successful working woman. While we mostly are only familiar with her wildly successful books, the private author is also highly involved in philanthropy and charity work. She created Lumos, an NGO that liberates thousands of children from harmful institutions and reunites them with family.
On the subject that brought her fame, Rowling’s motto is “Even if it isn’t the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way...just because it didn’t find an audience, that doesn’t mean it’s bad work.” Basically, Rowling knows that just the act of completing a work is a huge accomplishment—one that you should be super proud of—and even if it isn’t a huge success, you’ll still learn a ton.
Is there anything Oprah Winfrey hasn’t done? She worked exceptionally hard to escape a painful childhood and has undoubtedly become one of the most influential people on the planet. Dubbed the “Queen of All Media,” she’s a talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and television producer. In 2008, she formed her own network, Oprah Winfrey Network, and in 2013, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
This past May, Winfrey delivered the commencement speech at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She talked about finding your purpose, overcoming challenges, and having faith in yourself. She encouraged the graduates with her own mantra: "Take a deep breath with me right now and repeat this:‘Everything is always working out for me.’ That’s my mantra—make it yours.‘Everything is always working out for me.’ Look at how many times you were worried and upset—and now you’re here today. You made it."
Indra Nooyi is one of the most successful businesswomen in the world. She served as PepsiCo’s CEO for 12 years, and earned numerous accolades along the way. She has been named one of the “Best CEOs In The World" by the CEOWORLD magazine, has ranked on Forbes' World's 100 Most Powerful Women list from 2008 to 2017, and has also been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in The World.
She’s a self-made immigrant from India, and she has amazing words of wisdom for those who look up to her. Her three mantras? “Be a lifelong student.” “Whatever you do, throw yourself into it.” “Help others rise.”
It’s no secret we’re obsessed with the Notorious R.B.G. As a Supreme Court Justice, she has consistently brought serious fiery passion to her rulings since her appointment in 1993. Ginsburg has long been vocal about her support for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 2002. She’s also been named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people. Basically, she’s an all-around badass.
And as if she wasn’t already cool enough, she still makes fitness a real priority at 86 years old. As a three-time cancer survivor, she hits the gym twice a week with her trainer, and her mantra is “just show up.” That mantra has seeped into every aspect of her life, especially work—she’s only missed a handful of days due to health issues in the past 25 years.