10 Things Cecile Richards Wants You To Know About Being An Activist

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We’re living in a moment where standing up and speaking out is necessary, and outgoing Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards is one of the many resilient women leading by example. Richards is “enjoying fighting the good fight,” as she puts it, and as part of that, she is working to inspire her fellow resisters. Her latest method of motivation is her new memoir, Make Trouble, which she wrote with Lauren Peterson.

The longtime activist is perhaps best known for her work with Planned Parenthood, but her fight for social justice has spanned decades and included stops in many different parts of the country. Her book chronicles that journey, from the inspiration she drew from her parents as a child to staving off attacks against women’s health. We get the benefit of her experience as Richards shares some of the many lessons she has learned along the way.

Needless to say, after her lifetime of making a difference, Richards knows what it takes to get work done. Make Trouble recounts war stories from battles with some of the most powerful people in government, not to mention tells tales of triumph and overcoming setbacks. It is an inspiring read that will make you rethink your own activism.

Make Trouble by Cecile Richards with Lauren Peterson, $17.70, Amazon

In a time of resisting and persisting, Richards’ book will offer the motivation you need. Below are 10 of the many important takeaways you’ll find in Make Trouble.

Embrace Being A Troublemaker

Although the concept of making trouble is one that is often frowned upon, Richards shows how necessary it is. Long before she was ever a visible activist, she learned that bringing about change means disrupting those in power. You have to “get comfortable making other uncomfortable,” Richards writes.

Change Takes Hard Work

As much as we might all wish otherwise, you have to be prepared to put in work to make an impact. For Richards, that has meant long hours organizing underpaid workers, knocking on doors for campaigns, testifying in front of Congress, and much more. The process isn’t always fun, she admits, but it pays off, little by little.

You Have To Expect — And Push Past — Setbacks And Failure

The slow process of progress comes with discouraging moments. Setbacks and failure are inevitable, as Richards can attest. She discusses some of her losses, including her mother’s unsuccessful gubernatorial reelection campaign. What’s important is getting fired up again and pressing on.

Set Practical Goals

Goal-setting is important to Richards, as it helps you “achieve something concrete.” That said, she highlights the importance of being practical. Small victories can help build momentum.

Take Risks

All of us can fall victim to our own fears and self-doubt (Richards included), so she warns against self-sabotage. It almost kept her from interviewing for her Planned Parenthood job. Luckily, her mom stopped her, reminding her that you have to at least try something to figure out if you can handle it.

Push Your Own Boundaries

We all have our own comfort zone, but whatever it may be, Richards recommends we work to expand it. As she states, “If you’re not scaring yourself, you’re probably not doing enough.” That might sound intimidating, but it gets more done.

Be Flexible

Richards points out that “there’s no road map for social change.” You have to improvise. She particularly recommends accepting new opportunities that arise so that you “don’t get stuck or tied down.”

Forget Regret

Yet another time former Texas Gov. Ann Richards inspired her daughter was when she left office and found herself in the precarious position of being without a job, a house, or a spouse to support her while she figured out her next move. Still, she didn’t let that faze her. “She was determined to look forward, not back,” her daughter writes. And her outlook soon paid off.

Learn When To Tune Out Negativity

Richards has dealt with more than her fair share of criticism over the years, especially since becoming president of Planned Parenthood. While she recognizes that negative feedback can be useful, she is also careful not to let herself drown in it. As she explains in Make Trouble, dealing with rumors and half-truths drains your energy, so it’s OK to avoid such criticisms when you need to.

Find Strength In Numbers

Solidarity is a powerful thing. Throughout her book, Richards shows how the work of many multiplies its impact. She underscores not just the work of her contemporaries but also those who have come before and after her.

Let’s all follow Richards’ lead and make a little more trouble.