Over the last couple of years I’ve spent many hours listening to various podcasts. One of my favorites is Call Your Girlfriend with Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman. The podcast itself is well worth listening to, a mix of pop culture, current women’s issues and fun, but the reason I bring it up is because of something they call Shine Theory. The Shine Theory philosophy is ‘I don’t shine if you don’t shine.’ The basic premise is that for various reasons, women can be intimidated by other successful women. This intimidation stems from insecurity and fear, causing us to behave in less-than-nice ways to each other. We start thinking that the only way to win is to be the only woman in the room. What Friedman argues is that instead of giving into the urge to dislike or compete with other successful women, we should actively seek them out and befriend them. The more successful women we surround ourselves with, the more motivated we will be. I love this idea. My own girlfriends are a constant source of inspiration. Every time that I come away from hanging out with them, I feel energized and focused. I’m fortunate to have a lot of smart, funny, and successful women in my life. I do get those moments of insecurity when I compare myself to one of them. Sometimes I go so far as to wonder why exactly they’re spending time with me. The best way to shake these feelings off are to refocus on how happy I am for their successes. It’s much more fun to live vicariously through them as they celebrate their achievements.
What does all this have to do with Winnipeg? After reading about Shine Theory, I started thinking about the idea in general. This philosophy can apply at any level. How about locally? Winnipeggers have a crab in the bucket mentality. As in if I can’t have it, neither can you. There’s a kind of low level negativity that feeds off of mediocrity. This attitude is toxic and prevalent. It’s incredibly frustrating. Read any news comments section about The Museum of Human Rights, downtown revitalization, or any other positive local initiative. Workers who want more pay or benefits are told they should be satisfied with what they have. Businesses shouldn’t have any tax breaks because they might be too successful. Even on your daily commute, drivers try to prevent other cars from passing them. And to what end? This attitude doesn’t help anyone. Ultimately it hurts all of us. The more preoccupied we are with dragging other folks down, the less energy we save for making positive change. What we should be doing is recognizing that we all want to see our community work harder, do more and ultimately become better. No, you don’t have to support all things all of the time. If you don’t support a particular goal, then offer constructive criticism. Develop alternatives. Create options. Make your own mark. It is no one else’s job to make you happy and satisfied with your life or your community. That is up to you. If we get past the pettiness and insecurity, we can spend our time helping both ourselves and our city to shine brighter. The more that we support change-makers, the more positive the impact. As we inspire and support each other we can keep growing into a city to be proud of.
This is all well and great, but how can this be applied? After all we can’t all be Chipmans, Aspers, or Bulmans, leaving an obvious (and expensive) stamp on the city. We can start small though. One way to show support for local businesses is using the Local Frequency app. Whenever you make a purchase with cash or debit, the business can scan your app. 3% of your transaction will go towards your Local Points. The cash stays within our local economy while you save money. It’s free to download so there’s no additional cost to you. And while you’re at it, the list of businesses can also function as a road map to cool local places that you wouldn’t necessarily know about. Together we can fight the crab mentality. When someone signals to get in your lane, let them in. You’ll help them to get where they want to go.