Liz Carpenter on Success
Feb 18 2009

Now for the next highlight of one of the people I interviewed for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, on Liz Carpenter that was published in the March/April 2005 issue.  You can check out the post I did on Mort Meyerson, former CEO of both EDS and Perot Systems, for some background information.

My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together.  You can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog. The series started as Success To Me and during the middle of last year we changed it to Self Starter to focus more on entrepreneurs.  When we told them we weren’t able to continue due to our other commitments, they brought the series in house.  You can see the full article on Liz Carpenter by clicking HERE (pdf).

Liz received her BA from UT in 1942.  She was the White House press secretary to Ladybird Johnson.  She is the author of several books and uses humor extensively not only in her writing but also in her speeches and day to day conversations.  One of her first books was called “Start with a Laugh,” which was a first hand account of writing speeches during her white house years.   She would be about 88 years old right now and was an active supporter of the women’s movement.

We started the article with this quote by Liz:

To me, being able to use your time, hopefully profitably, doing what you want to do, and finding happiness in it, is success. I think the keys to success are sharing and having a generous heart and a sense of humor. Another trait of successful people is that they are aware — they have inquiring minds.  And finally, people who are successful are committed to taking risks and to walking through open doors. If you don’t trust yourself to take a risk, you’re likely to be left out of greater success.

She then went on to say.

There’s an old quote from the women’s movement: “Men are made anxious by failure. Women are made anxious by success.” I think women have gotten much braver since the start of the women’s movement in this country, and it thrills me that now we are not so anxious with success. We now help each other achieve it.

I agree that many women (myself included) don’t really feel comfortable with success outside the home environment.  I know that sounds strange, but I’m still on the cusp of the generation of women who grew up with mothers (who may or may not have worked outside of the home) who were still ‘programmed’ to think about life, womanhood, wife hood, and motherhood in a certain way.

There have been many changes in society since we were children and as women we have many more opportunities than our mothers had (without having to worry as much about the glass ceiling and with having no help from our spouses), but many of us still struggle with defining our roles.  I imagine the same is true for men who now find themselves much more involved in child care than our fathers were.  With many more women working (by choice sometime during their children’s lives) than ever before, men have to be more involved in the day to day business of house management and child care because we often don’t have the nearby family support system that used to exist.  Our mother’s who had to work or chose to work in many cases had to do everything without much support from their spouse.

So it’s no wonder we sometimes still feel residual anxiety about success because with success comes worry about how we will manage the rest of our lives with kids…because I think it’s already been proven that although we can have it all, we can’t have it all at the same time!

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