“Women who understand how powerful they are do not give into envy over meaningless things, instead they fight to maintain the beautiful bond of the sisterhood. These are the real women who know that we need each other’s love and support to survive in this world. Love is the essence of being a woman. We must be that light of love that seals the bond and unique beauty of our sisterhood.” -Bindu

Sisterhood: What a word of contradictions.

How is it possible to be so connected to someone who is not your biological relation, yet, who knows you better than you know yourself? The women that we embrace as our “sisters” are sometimes closer than our own family members. They defend us, wipe away our tears, take care of us when we are ill, encourage us in the bad times, lend us money if needed, and support our dreams. And at the very same time these same women will not hesitate to scold us, push us, even anger us in order to protect us.

True sisterhood cannot be forced. It is has to be developed with interest, patience, reciprocity and over time. Not every woman will be your best friend, nor should she be invited to be in your inner circle, but every woman is deserving of your respect and support when you are able to provide it. Sisterhood is not a trite word we throw around. Being your sister’s keeper should be a reflex. It should be based on how you would want to be treated if you were walking in her shoes. Sisterhood knows no boundary, no race, no class or geography. Sisterhood transcends and it transforms us for the better. Sisterhood is from the heart.

Indeed it is a great irony to be a member of the sacred “sisterhood” from which all women are born. Being a woman is all about being with other women. It starts from the time we are little girls passing notes in school, or asking that little girl sitting in the second row next to us if she will be our best friend. We all remember with great longing those innocent days sleeping in our sleeping bags giggling and talking about boys all night with other teenage girls at over night slumber parties. We learn early as girls that other girls (who will grow up to be other women) are both our competition and our co-conspirators. Therein lies our conflict. Yet, deep inside we all know that we are at our best when we have our “sisters” (biological or not) at our side cheering us on and watching our backs.

The fact is we are not just connected, as women. We are interconnected. So why does it seem that at a time when so many of us (and it is about “us”) are getting ahead and doing amazing things that far too many of us are being left behind? The truth is, many women despite our achievements or power are just too scared, too selfish, or too insecure to help other women. And that is what real “sisterhood” is all about, because the reality is, if we don’t help each other, who will? And if not in this time, when?

As we end 2013, and forge ahead into yet another New Year, I charge my fellow women of the world to make as one of your New Year Resolutions a pledge to love and support other women. Not just the women in your life, who you love and who love you. That is easy. I want to challenge all of us who can, to bring other women along into our ranks. Talk is cheap ladies. What are you doing day-to-day to lift other women as you climb?

The fact is this: It isn’t all about you or your success. It is about the success of all women. I want to challenge women of this time to make a way for women of the next time to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. I want to ask you to make a mental pledge to the following when it comes to how you interact with, react to, and treat other women:

1. Be kind. Being a witch to another woman violates the woman code that we all instinctively know is how we should conduct ourselves. I promise you this, if you are mean to other women, harsh to other women it will come back to you and on you in spades. Why generate that kind of karma for yourself; just be kind.

2. Be patient. You need grace. You need support. You need encouragement. So why won’t you give it to another woman who is younger, new at the job, trying to make her way in the world? Treat other women as you WANT to be treated NOT as you MAY HAVE been treated by other bad women on your way up the professional or life ladder.

3. Communicate. Talk, do not text. Talk, do not email. Talk, do not gossip. Talk, do not tell your inner circle what she did wrong or how they should avoid her. Go to the woman you have an issue with and talk it out. Stop with the petty school girl antics and talk. And most importantly, stop “going off” on other women and erupting. You do irreparable damage to trust, and to the sisterhood. If one on one talking does not work, or is not advisable in the situation, the Bible says (for you church girls) that you can take a witness, a mediator, someone who can help you two work it out. But give her a chance to be heard and to hear you. Communicate what you need woman to woman. Stop trashing other women and black balling them. It is not cool. And it violates the woman code of life.

4. Be empathetic. Empathy is the single most important skill any leader must have. Your ability to relate, forgive, understand, discuss, share, and engage other women will absolutely impact how successful you are in life, as a leader, and as a member of the sisterhood of women. Period. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you cannot find it in your heart to act like a human being before you act like a supervisor, boss, executive, colleague, or friend than you have failed at leadership 101.

5. Operate by a Code of Conduct. Don’t be a hypocrite. Do not place yourself above other women just because you have a title, status, or stuff. But by chance and God’s grace any of us tomorrow could lose all we have: our homes, our families, our good jobs, our health and our wealth. The next generation of women is watching those of us who are over 35. Reality TV is teaching younger women and some of our peers that being nasty mean girls is the way to succeed in life. It is not. We have a responsibility to set an example of what it means to be a “sister” and to actually “keep” your sister even when we disagree. You cannot live by do what I say, but not what I do. It will not work with this generation of savvy, sophisticated women. They see you. The question is do you see you. There is a Code. It’s time we lived up to it starting now.

In the final analysis, to be a “sister” is to be a friend. It is to be loyal. Tried and true. It is to give a smile, lend a hand, and practice friendship. It is to be forgiving. To be a covering, a balm, a helping hand, a fierce advocate and builder of other women. Being a “sister” means you value other women as you value yourself. Now that can be problematic if you do not value yourself as a woman. But, it’s okay you can learn to love yourself. You can learn to feel worthy and valued. You can learn to trust, love and support other women even if everything you have experienced in your past or been taught is contrary to that possibility.

It’s time for us to put the “sister” back into the word “sisterhood.” It starts with you and with me, right here and right now.

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