Remarks of Lillian G. Burry as prepared for delivery on April 1, 2016 to the Jersey Shore Girl Scouts annual Women of Distinction Dinner.
Confidence, Courage and Character
A slogan featured by the Girl Scouts.
I would like to tie it into my life.
Confidence, Courage , Character.
These are three things that start growing in the heart of every girl from the day she is born. If she is lucky, she has them nurtured by parents and family and friends. But just like muscles, these qualities must be exercised regularly if they’re to become strong and certain. Fortunately, life affords us regular chances.
Most of these are not found in a major crisis. They come in small everyday ways, asking us if we want to walk the more difficult road presenting more opportunities but more uncertainties as well. Do we have enough Confidence in ourselves to consider a more challenging option? Do we have enough Courage to make a decision based on merit, without fearing the disapproval of others if our choices fail to coincide with their desires? And is our Character strong enough to make the right decision and stand by it.
The only way to find the answers to the questions is for each of us to make choices and stand by them through our lives.
I was fortunate to have wonderful supportive parents- the one characteristic stressed by my father, a strong, patrician Italian who would say Corragio, Bimba- Courage Child!
Today going to college is a normal choice made by girls everywhere. Then it was not the typical course to follow. It took an extra bit of confidence to choose to pursue an education and a professional career.
Again, when I was young, choosing marriage and motherhood was often seen as an alternative to a career and it was a common and often happy choice for many young women. This was before all the talk about “having it all”. I had confidence that it didn’t have to be an either/or choice for me. I met a man who had the self-confidence and courage to become my husband ( And believe me, marriage is an act of courage.) and together we raised a wonderful daughter of our own.
But that wasn’t enough for me.
At the time, real estate was a field dominated by men but I was convinced I’d be good at it and decided to make a place for myself in this highly competitive field. I’m still at it. And I can tell you that confidence, courage, and character all get tested on a regular basis and it is that testing that can both frustrate us and keep us successful. Having confidence in your ability to survive and succeed in constantly changing markets often subject to forces beyond your control is essential. It also took some courage to continue to stand alone when large national companies absorbed many local firms and brought their considerable resources with them. In a field that is built on personal relationships, character is the basis of reputation and I reasoned that the reputation I had built independently would serve me better than the resources of a giant firm. So far. So good. But I wanted way more than that.
Real estate is a business about helping people and building communities. For me, it was a natural extension of caring about the community I was serving professionally to trying to serve it officially. Of course this meant taking the step that comes between caring and serving. That’s called running for office. One more thing that is not for the faint of heart. I’ll say it’s a process that doesn’t always bring out the best in people and leave it at that. And it takes as much confidence, courage and character you can muster. That’s not just because it’s a very challenging thing to do but because it impacts the lives of many other people. You have to believe you have something meaningful to contribute before you decide to advance into public life. Then, once you make that decision, you have to use all your personal strengths to make it happen. The greater the responsibility, the greater the obligation to do it well. Looking back, that is what I have always tried to do. Looking forward, that is what I will always try to do. Every girl growing up today can make the same choices and build her confidence, strengthen her courage and develop her character to lead a good, productive and successful life.
Before concluding- I would like to draw attention to a box of Girl Scout cookies:
Oh, What a girl can do!
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.
You can make a difference!
Never forget it!
Lillian G. Burry is the President of Colts Neck Realty and a Monmouth County Freeholder. She is a mother, grandmother, wife and leader-A Woman of Distinction.