4 Lessons from Bossypants by Tina Fey

Whether you know Tina Fey from her world-famous portrayal of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, or her critically acclaimed sitcom 30 Rock, chances are, hers is a name you’re incredibly familiar with. Fey has been entertaining us for decades while making a name for herself as a world-famous comedic icon. She’s also a bit of a bossypants.

Fey’s memoir Bossypants is every bit as entertaining and thoughtful as its author. In it, she walks readers through her life from awkward, smart-mouthed girl to comedic legend and empowered executive, while also offering the valuable life lessons she’s learned as a woman, an entertainer, and, well, a bossypants.

You Can’t Please Everyone

If there is one thing a woman in the entertainment industry knows, it’s that you can’t please everyone. In fact, attempting to do so will feel impossible immediately. Women are held to astronomical and often contradictory standards of how to look and behave. Fey not only witnessed women getting repeatedly overlooked or outright ignored in the comedy industry, but she also suffered at the hands of misogyny herself, particularly during her tenure at Saturday Night Live when she portrayed Sarah Palin.

Fey learned, quite simply, you can’t please everyone. So, instead of trying, she decided to stay true to herself, took constructive criticism from people she trusted, and never let the disparaging hatred she received from her naysayers bring her down. She embraced her inner bossypants, took charge of her life, and stood up for herself when needed. And, judging from her massive success as an actor, writer, and producer, her strategy seems to have been an effective one!

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Making Connections Matters

Hard work and talent can only get you so far. Both inside and outside of the entertainment industry, if you want to move up in the world, it’s all about who you know. Tina Fey attributes much of her success to the connections she made with people throughout her career. One key figure was Saturday Night Live creator and producer Lorne Michaels, who would ultimately encourage her to create her own show, 30 Rock. The other, Amy Poehler, a fellow comedian, SNL alum, and long-time friend.

Making connections with people isn’t just good for your career, however. Humans are social creatures, and we’re at our best when we’re in the company of others. It’s another important quality of being a bossypants; making connections requires initiative, being comfortable taking charge, and the ability to work with others. The more people you know–and that includes people who don’t necessarily look or think like you–the more collective wisdom and experience you have at your fingertips.

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Life Is Funny, So Laugh

Tina Fey knows a thing or two about comedy. After all, it’s been her bread and butter for most of her adult life. It was Fey’s ability to see the humor in even the craziest of situations that helped her get where she is today. Humor is a powerful coping mechanism for when you fall upon hard times, and Fey knows this personally. Her disastrous honeymoon cruise may not have been funny at the time, but the retelling of the incident in her book is full of good-natured humor, sometimes at her own expense.

Life is hard and full of problems. Being able to keep a stiff upper lip, and even crack the occasional joke, can keep you afloat during those darker days, like when your cruise ship catches on fire. So, don’t be afraid to chuckle at life’s absurdities and difficulties. Doing so is actually good for your health.

Everything Will Be Fine

While Tina Fey is happy and successful, it doesn’t mean her life has been easy. She’s overcome a number of struggles, some more humorous than others. She’s had to make difficult decisions about her personal life and career. She even admits that she is unsure about having a second child. It’s a question that, even by the end of the book, she still can’t answer.

But there is one thing of which she is certain: Everything will be fine in the end. People are adaptable and resilient to miraculous degrees. It’s not always easy to bounce back from a failure, setback, or outright tragedy. But it is always possible to move forward. In fact, moving forward is sometimes all you can do.

So, keep your head held high, and keep moving forward, even if it means being a bit of a bossypants sometimes. And, hopefully, you’ll be able to look back on those failures and laugh one day, just like Tina Fey.

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