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[bctt tweet=”Does Mary J Blige teach us that strong business women remain authentic? Find out how here” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

I have been a fan of Mary J. Blige since my childhood in the early 90s and have taken great inspiration from watching the way that she has blazed trails, set trends and overcome adversity, both in her career and personal life, from then even up till now. This, in addition to the fact that her songs tend to surround themes such as female empowerment, make her a favourite.

With a title like “The Strength of a Woman,” her upcoming album seems set to carry on this important discussion. So, to celebrate, I was inspired to share 8 markings of a strong business woman through some of my favourite Mary J. Blige lyrics:

1. “Take Me as I am or have nothing at all”

There is a saying that goes “if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one”. Although it can be tempting to make your business all encompassing, one of the things that Mary teaches us about strong business women, through songs such as “Take me as I am,” is that they remain authentic.

When I say this, I mean that they are self-aware enough to know where their talents lie and who they can best serve. In other words they niche down.

An example of this can be seen via the overlap and differences between She Leads Africa and my blog. Both cater to women but they have different niches- in that SLA caters to business women whereas my blog caters to Christian women. Some of the benefits of having a niche in this way are that:

  • It allows you to play to your strengths
  • It allows you to work with the kinds of people you like to, making your business a joy rather than something you dread
  • It sets you up as an expert in your particular field, making you the “go to” person in your niche or specialism
  • Being seen as an authority has a positive effect on profit margins

2. “All I really want is to be happy”

Through songs like “Happy,” Mary shows us that part of the reason strong business women are able to be so authentic is because they know what makes them…well…happy! Not only that, these women have developed goals; so, they know what they want to achieve in future.

They also honour their dreams by going for them. This knowledge of self may have been hard won- especially if it was something that they didn’t always have- but, once it’s developed, it is what guides their business practices.

3. “No more drama”

In songs such as “No More Drama”, Mary is teaching us that strong business women refuse to tolerate negative entities. This is because they’ve battled through too much to make their businesses what they are today to let another person destroy it with negativity.

They are, however, also wise enough to know when the “drama” is coming from within (through things like fear, self-doubt or negative self-talk) and so will do the inner work needed to shake those things off to progress as well.

4. “Hate it or love it the underdog’s on top and I’m gone shine, homie, until my heart stops”

Sometimes it is not possible to eliminate negativity because it is coming from a family member or colleague, for example. Through songs such as her remix of 50 Cent’s “Hate it or Love It,” Mary teaches us that in such situations, we always get to choose how much we are willing to be affected by other people’s opinions or attitudes.

We may not be able to control nay-sayers or “enemies of progress” (as we Nigerians would call them), but we can control our own reactions. Strong business women realise that, and so they refuse to slow down, give up or let anybody steal their “shine”.

5. “…As long as it’s you by my side, I’m stronger”

In addition to breaking away from the negative sources in their lives, strong business women seek positive relationships and collaborations. According to another Mary song, this means relationships that make them “Stronger”. As already implied, this entails being around people that:

  • Love you for you (only suggesting alterations be made to contribute to you growth and progress, rather than make you feel “less than”)
  • Support your goals and dreams
  • Are positive sources of influence.

By the same token, strong business women are able to do and be the same for others (in the knowledge that a win for one sister is a win for us all and does not detract from them in any way).

6. “In each tear, there’s a lesson…”

Through songs such as “With Each Tear” Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure.

They roll with the punches, extract the lessons from that season and use it to become better rather than bitter.

Tweet: Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure

7. “I can see in colour, the first sign of spring…”

Mary demonstrates, through songs like “I Can See in Colour,” that strong business women lean towards such optimism because of a hope and faith in God, or another higher power, who means them good and not evil. This gives them a sense that everything, including bad things, happens for a reason; that even if the bright side of a situation is not immediately apparent- it will be.

They also understand, in line with one of my favourite songs (Total Praise by Richard Smallwood) that, that higher power is the source of their strength in the first place.

8. “[I] put my life all up in these songs just so you can feel me; so you can get the real me”

I’m going to end this ode to Mary J. Blige and strong business women with the song I began with- “Take Me As I Am”. In it Mary sings the words in the title of this 8th point. When we share these things with others, we let people who have the same challenges know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

In being unafraid to share the good, bad and ugly of her life with her fans through her music, this is exactly what Mary does- teaching us that strong business women encourage and build others up. They use their platforms for good and live in such a way that they inspire others.

For me, that’s empowering Christian women by promoting the contributions of strong women of faith (both past and present). What is it for you? Once you know that, like Mary, you’ll know your purpose.

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