HOW TO BE LIKE RBG

Lessons from the Supreme Court justice. In this excerpt from "Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," co-author Shana Knizhnik ’15 shares what she learned from the justice. For more, see our Q&A with Shana: http://ow.ly/XhKsk
  1. 1.
    Work for what you believe in.
    RBG saw injustice in the world and she used her abilities to help change it. Although the forces of “apathy, selfishness, or anxiety that one is already overextended” are “not easy to surmount,” as RBG puts it, she urges us to “repair tears in [our] communities, nation, and world, and in the lives of the poor, the forgotten, the people held back because they are members of disadvantaged or distrusted minorities.”
  2. 2.
    But pick your battles.
    “This wonderful woman whose statues I have in my chambers, Eleanor Roosevelt, said ‘Anger, resentment, envy. These are emotions that just sap your energy, so get over it.’” To be like RBG in dissent, save your public anger for when there’s lots at stake and when you’ve tried everything else.
  3. 3.
    And don’t burn your bridges.
    “Fight for the things that you care about,” RBG advised young women, “but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
  4. 4.
    Don’t be afraid to take charge.
    RBG believes that “women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” She has used her establishment positions to fight for structural change and on behalf of the oppressed. More recently, RBG has also united the court’s liberals under her leadership.
  5. 5.
    Think about what you want, then do the work.
    When a young RBG suddenly was faced with the prospect of starting law school with a toddler, her father-in-law told her, “If you really want to study the law, you will find a way. You will do it.” RBG says, “I’ve approached everything since then that way. Do I want this or not? And if I do, I’ll do it.”
  6. 6.
    But when enjoy what makes you happy.
    RBG gets out—a lot.
  7. 7.
    Bring along your crew.
    RBG mentored legions of feminist lawyers and happily welcomed Sotomayor and Kagan to the Supreme Court.
  8. 8.
    Have a sense of humor.
    A little goes a long way.