What Meryl Streep has to say about success (and how it can motivate you the next time you need a lift)

What Meryl Streep has to say about success (and how it can motivate you the next time you need a lift)

The other night, Ted and I were watching the CNN documentary We Will Rise. It’s about Michelle Obama’s mission to educate girls around the world.

In their own words, “In this film, the First Lady, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and CNN’s Isha Sesay take a journey to Morocco and Liberia, where they meet young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives.”

As a woman myself, and as a proud new (ish) mama of a young girl whom I would like to raise to be a strong and powerful person, my husband and I felt this was an important film to watch.

Apart from being struck by the incredible courage of the ladies featured in this film, I found myself particularly struck by a moment near the end. The young women were gathered in Morocco and speaking with the first lady, Meryl Streep and two other women when one of the girls asked a question. I can’t remember the exact words, but the young woman essentially wanted to know if Meryl, the First Lady and the rest of the panel had any good advice for their success. Meryl Streep, in all of her grace and honesty, answered the question. What she had to say surprised me.

(Allow me to paraphrase:)

I don’t really have any good advice for you. Because the thing is, you all already have everything you need to be successful. It’s already inside you. But I can tell you this: it is when you lose heart that you lose everything.

A simple sentence with a weight of meaning:

It is only when you stop believing in yourself that everything begins to fall apart.

I felt her words resonate in every fiber of my being. Because though all of us know it, we don’t always remember that we are the authors of our stories. We are always the authors of the rhetoric that plays in our heads. And so, we always have the power to change it, to create a better story, a better belief, one that moves us forward instead of holds us back.

And none of us is immune to the seductive calls of negativity, the ones that tell us we can’t, we won’t, we aren’t good enough – not even Meryl Streep.

With her raw honesty, Meryl went on to suggest that the girls remember and focus on the one person who told them “you can.” That is what she had always done throughout the course of her life. And it has made all the difference. I don’t know about you, but I personally took solace in the fact that even Meryl Streep loses faith in herself sometimes! And probably more often than I might think.

It made me love her even more.

Because like you and me, she too is only human, as fabulous and legendary an actress as we all consider her to be.

Even now – weeks later – Meryl’s words continue to play in my head. Because I can’t tell you how many times I have lost faith in myself. How many times I’ve felt stuck, stopped believing in myself and what I was doing, and wanted to hide from the world as a result. How many times I’ve believed the voice in my head that told me to just give up.

Our success in life really and truly is a hundred percent dependent upon our belief in our ability to be successful, on our belief in ourselves, our unwavering knowledge that whatever we can conceive, we can achieve. No one can take that away from us.

We can, though. We can start to believe the naysayers. We can start to believe the voice in our head that tells us we’re crazy, we’re stupid, we’re not enough, we’re out of our league, our ideas are subpar and will never go anywhere.

If we want to be successful in this life, we have to recall and focus on the experiences and people who have told or shown us that we can do anything we want to do. We have to keep heart. We have to focus on all of the “I can do this” moments rather than the “No I can’ts.”

It is the only way to success, whatever success looks like for you.

For me, success looks like being a great mother, treating myself with love and kindness always, and being a strong and powerful entrepreneur whose business makes a difference in the world.

What does your ultimate success look like? Get clear on what it looks like for you in every facet of your life, from self care to career to health and everything in between. Then, recall all of those who have ever believed in you, said something encouraging to you, or made you feel like you could do anything. Focus on those people and experiences always, no matter if you’re already  feeling amazing or when you’re losing heart.

Keep heart. Keep the faith. Believe that you can.

Because just like Glinda the good witch said to Dorothy with her ruby red slippers, you’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along.

The strength that you’ve been looking for is already inside you. Set it free, and watch your life bloom before your very eyes as you click your heels and find your way home, only to realize that you never really left.

Love, love, love,




Photo Credit: Flickr/DisneyABCTelevisionGroup’sPhotoStream