Lessons in Female Leadership From Jennifer Lopez

Lessons in Female Leadership From Jennifer Lopez

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Like many people, I’ve followed the success of Jennifer Lopez over the years, watching her rise as a global icon.

So when she recently released her Netflix documentary – HalfTime – I was intrigued. I thought it was just going to document her legendary Super Bowl HalfTime performance, but I was wrong – it was so much more than that!

It provides an intimate insight into her life and the experiences that she’s faced as a Latina woman navigating her career, life and motherhood.

If you’ve not yet watched it – it’s worth checking out as it is jam-packed with women’s leadership lessons.

Grab yourself a brew and dive into the six lessons I learned from Jennifer Lopez:

1. Resist letting others define what you’re capable of

Even as a child, Jennifer was told by her family that she wasn’t a singer or the smart one – that recognition was given to her two sisters.

Jennifer started pursuing her passion for *just* dancing, despite as a little girl watching musicals and dreaming of one day combining her love for dancing, singing *and* acting.

But she never gave up on her dream!

Along the way, Jennifer navigated unbelievable media scrutiny and criticism. The documentary shares a small insight into the types of ridicule and pressure she experienced.

It also gives an insight into the unconscious biases she’s had to experience as a woman and belonging to a minority group.

Ben Affleck features in the documentary talking about the negative press coverage he’s witnessed JLo receiving, commenting that he once said to her, “Doesn’t this bother you?” And in response, Jennifer said, ‘I’m Latina. I’m a woman. I expected this. You just don’t expect it. You expect to be treated fairly.'”

As one of her colleagues reflects in the documentary, “She’s a woman of colour who has dared to pursue her dreams, and it’s led to her becoming a global icon.”

2. You have to know yourself and hold your vision for yourself above anything and anybody else

Living most of her life in the public eye has not been easy. As an artist, she lost herself along the way. After her children, she found it difficult to reconnect with the professional part of herself. She felt like she didn’t know what her value was anymore. Jennifer says in the documentary, “I lost myself building the perfect life. The family life.”

This, she says, led to the divorce from her husband and the father of her two children. After becoming a single mother to three-year-old twins, she had to rebuild her life and rediscover herself and her passions.

JLo has taken the time to understand herself to live a fulfilling life. Recognise what her values are. What work lights her up. What enables her to show up for her family as a happy and fulfilled mother. And when the world has tried to tell her otherwise, she’s held onto that vision, doing it in her own way and on her own terms.

She beautifully shares, “The key is not so much about other people, but about yourself. It’s about being your own keeper. Not someone giving you home but giving yourself a home.”

3. Women are multi-dimensional, and the more we can embrace those different parts of ourselves, the more powerful we can be

In the documentary, JLo shares that in her Super Bowl HalfTime performance, she wants to celebrate women in every sense of who they are.

Smart.
Strong.
Sensual.

Jennifer shares, “Sometimes, as women, we think, if I’m too sexy, I won’t be taken seriously. But you can’t just cancel out different parts of who you are. They co-exist, and that can be authentic and real.”

Jennifer gives us an insight into the different parts of her:

  • Hip Hop JLo
  • Funk JLo
  • Latin JLo
  • Mama JLo
  • Shoot me down, but I can’t fall, JLo
  • You tried to write me off, but I’m not going f*cking anywhere JLo

4. It’s not easy to be recognised and respected as a woman and a Latina

One of JLo’s team shares that she’s made hard work look effortless.

She’s battled to be heard and seen.

She’s fought to be taken seriously.

Her industry has often seen her as a celebrity and dismissed her talent as an actress, dancer and singer. Jennifer has held the vision for herself as a multi-passionate performer even when others have doubted her.

And that commitment has led her to:

  • Selling $8 million in records
  • Creating 15 billion streams
  • Starring in over 40 films
  • Grossing over $3 billion at the box-office
  • Gaining more than 350 million social media followers
  • Generating over $5 billion in consumer sales as a brand

5. Get clear on who you are and what your purpose is

Despite starring in over 40 movies, Jennifer has struggled to be recognised by the movie industry as an award-worthy actress. In 2020 she was in with a chance of getting the recognition she deserves for her role in the movie Hustlers.

The Hollywood rumours were that she would be nominated for an Oscar. She was considered a favourite for the Academy recognition! Jennifer started to get hopeful that, finally, her time had come.

But in a shocking twist of events, she failed even to get an Oscar nomination. In the documentary, this omission was shown as painful for JLo.

“It was hard, and I just had very low self-esteem,” she says, crying while looking at her phone in bed, coming to terms with the rejection.

But her reflections on this experience are powerful. At that moment, she had to ask herself, what does it mean?

“I had to really figure out who I was, and believe in that, and not believe in anything else!”

She realised that external awards don’t define her. “I don’t do it for the awards; I do it to tell stories, affect change, and make people feel things. Because *I* want to feel something, and that’s why I do it.”

“I actually wanna make the world a better place in my own little way. I’m going to keep working, and I’m going to be unafraid to get loud and use my voice in the best way I can.”

And that, ladies, is a masterclass in how you rise from rejection. How you dust yourself off and reconnect to who you are and what your purpose is.

6. That timing is everything

In the documentary’s climax, Jennifer delivers a showstopping performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. She shares that it’s been a long road getting to this place and that she’s proud of the person she’s become.

Jennifer explains, “I don’t think I could have done this Super Bowl 5, 10, 15 years ago. I wasn’t ready, didn’t know myself enough, and was finding my way. There’s so much more existing stuff coming, and I’m ready for it now.”

It reminds me of the quote that we overestimate what we can achieve in a year but underestimate what we can achieve in a lifetime.

Jennifer reflects that she had to get clear in preparing for the Super Bowl. “How do I represent all of the things that matter to me? The world is listening. What am I going to say? The good, bad and ugly have led to this moment.”

Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t feel like your time right now. Get to know yourself really well. Know who you are – what your values are, what your purpose is, what your zone of genius is. Hold onto these and let them guide you; your time will come.

Thank you to Jennifer for figuring out who she really is and believing that over anything else. Because in doing so, she gives us a masterclass in how we can do that too.

Have you watched HalfTime yet?
I would love to hear what your takeaways were from Jennifer and her documentary.

 

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