The Black Women's Agenda 38th annual awards luncheon in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ingrid Sturgis)

The Black Women’s Agenda 38th annual awards luncheon in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Ingrid Sturgis)

Imagine a room filled with 1,500 fierce sisters who excel in a variety of fields. We broke bread today at the Black Women’s Agenda awards luncheon and discussed what it means to have staying power. Women all over the world descended upon Washington, D.C., for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 45th Annual Legislative Conference. Here’s food for thought to mull over this weekend from some of these women and other sister circles:

1. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will? Staying power is also a vision thing. Remember the quote “if you believe, you can achieve.”

2. Know your stuff. Excellence and competence in your area of expertise can give you staying power.

3. Recognize contributions to your success. “We all got here through luck, hard work and the help of others,” said Gina Adams, senior vice president of government affairs at the FedEx Corp.

4. Surround yourself with positive people. While you don’t necessarily have to eliminate them from your life, limit your time around drama queens and naysayers, which can sap your energy and dampen your spirit.

5. Give back. Adams and other noted the importance of being “fiercely committed” to service.

6. Show confidence. If you’re a little short, fake it until you make it.

7. Adjust your attitude. Having the right state of mind builds staying power. Think of the sisters who walk into a room and own it.

8. Have faith. In accepting the President’s Award, Gwendolyn Boyd, Ph.D., noted that she went from living in a housing project in  Montgomery, Ala., to being the president of her alma mater, Alabama State University. “Only God could do that,” Boyd said.

9. Pat a sister on the back.  U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards, D-Md., praised the “powerful, smart, talented black women” in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis. That’s something that we should do individually, too. She also talked about our strength in numbers and how we can move the nation forward by joining forces.

10. Lift as you climb. “It is important for us to uphold one another,” Boyd said. Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, 10th District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, said that this is especially true for those who are younger than us. “Let us be the stimulus for this generation,” McKenzie said.

11. Expand your networks and especially your sister circles. One of my professors used to say, “you have to circulate to percolate.” In this rapidly changing world, we need to stay connected to have staying power whether we remain in our current fields or expand our horizons.

12. Laugh out loud. Sometimes we need to lighten up and look at the funny side of life.

13. Get emotional. Sometimes you just gotta let it all out. Cry when you need to — even if it’s behind closed doors. Many sisters were moved to tears during Samantha McElhaney’s powerful rendition of “Total Praise,” or when Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney’s widow, Jennifer, thanked everyone for supporting the fallen “angels” and survivors of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.

14. Take care of your mind, body and spirit. Tammie Denyse reinforced this in accepting the Health Award as a 10-year breast cancer survivor and founder of Carrie’s TOUCH Inc. in Sacramento, Calif.

15. Protect your downtime. I plan to spend this weekend playing with my grandson, laughing with my book club and walking with a friend.

Bishop McKenzie closed her blessing by asking us to turn to another sister and say: “Things will get better. You will get better. And I will get better, too!”

Yanick Rice Lamb, who teaches journalism at Howard University, is co-founder of

About Fierce Fridays — Tips for Weekend Well-Being
We each cherish those precious days off at the end of the week, but increasingly those of us who are charter members of the sisterhood of the stressed and overworked are losing our Saturday and Sunday leisure time to weekend work and domestic duties.

To make sure that you do something every weekend that’s just for you, we’ll be sharing a little advice to make those 48 hours a great time to recharge your batteries, bring a little good news into your life, or discover a quick and easy way to improve your health.