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At every age, women need big sisters to help us leap to the next big thing. What better example could a middle-aged woman (or a woman of any age) have than Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)? She wasn’t appointed to the Supreme Court until she was 60!

In Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, authors Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik give remarkable insight to RBG’s career and what makes her tick.

Here are five principles RBG employed to become one of the most influential women of our time—and how you can use them, too.

Choose your battles. RBG’s strategy has always been to win the war—not a few battles. She chips away at things little by little, careful not to rock the boat in a way that might jeopardize substantive progress. At the same time, she’s not shy about writing a vigorous dissent when the court runs afoul of democratic values, such as the court’s decision to overturn parts of the Voting Rights Act that protected minorities against discriminatory voting practices. “We have put down the umbrella because we weren’t getting wet,” RBG said. “But the storm is raging.”

Power Lesson: You are surrounded by messages that your every move should be BOLD and AWESOME. Don’t forget that you can change the world one small, revolutionary act at a time.

Persevere. Have you ever been in one of those meetings where you say something and it’s ignored until someone more forceful or influential repeats the same thing? How amazing to learn that powerful women share the same experience. “Once it happened all the time that I would say something and there was no response,” RBG once said. “And then a man would say the same thing and people would say, ‘Good idea.’” She further added, “It can happen even in the conferences in the court. When I will say something—and I don’t think I’m a confused speaker—and it isn’t until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on the point.”

Good-natured, mild-mannered, or soft-spoken women are frequently discounted and underestimated by men and women alike. Ditto for aging women, women who are small or large in stature, and those who don’t have an outer appearance that strikes others as attractive. I’m sorry if that sounds like a sweeping generalization. I make that claim based on personal and anecdotal experience.

In the company of people who enjoy throwing their weight around or going on the offensive, some of us freeze like a deer caught in headlights. Later, we think of a million things we wish we had said in response. We’re not natural fighters, but that doesn’t mean we have to acquiesce.

RBG does not allow her demeanor, petite stature or voice to be mistaken for weakness. She organizes meticulous arguments and eventually changes people’s minds with an absolute commitment to civility. Her tactics prove that success doesn’t depend on our willingness to trash the intelligence or character of our opponents just because they have a different point of view.

Power Lesson: Even when the stakes are much lower than they are at the Supreme Court, the world is better off when we have a consensus of ideas that represent everyone. When you’re in a position to lead, do your best to invite quiet, thoughtful people into the conversation. Do the same for people who are otherwise marginalized.

Support other women. How many times have you seen this? Two women get into a power struggle and start throwing shade on each other. Whether their reasons are petty or significant, the scenes that follow are never pretty.

Even when Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her female colleagues are philosophically opposed to each other, they act and speak with a degree of solidarity. For the most part, Sandra Day O’Connor’s votes and views were as different from RBG’s as night and day. Nevertheless, when RBG read her first opinion from the bench, O’Connor sent the following note: “This is your first opinion for the Court. It’s a fine one. I look forward to many more.” RBG repeated the favor for associate justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. When the chips are down, these women advocate and defend each other. To do anything less undermines opportunities for all women.

Power Lesson: Whenever you have a chance to say something kind and encouraging to other women in the midst of some challenge, say it. At a bare minimum, remain silent if you can’t say something nice.

Conserve energy. RBG lost her mother the day before her high school graduation. Thereafter, she dedicated herself to living a life that would have made her mother proud.

One of the main tenants of her mother’s value system was to remain a lady under all circumstances. That meant never succumbing to anger, resentment and accusations—no matter how justified she felt. RBG’s mama knew from experience how negative emotions could divert energy from more important activities.

RBG allocates time for things that restore her mentally, spiritually and physically so she can be ready to give her best. Even at 84, she maintains a disciplined lifestyle, working long hours through the week and catching up on her sleep on weekends. Her response to opposition is to “try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.”

Power Lesson: You are more effective when you’re well-rested and unfettered by negative thoughts. Do your best to properly channel your anger and use it as a force for good.

Keep an attitude of humility. In 1970, RBG submitted a landmark case, Reed vs. Reed, to the Supreme Court. In it, she and her colleagues argued that women and men are constitutionally protected to equal status under the law and that the court must strike laws to the contrary.

On the cover of the brief, RBG included Dorothy Kenyon and Pauli Murray, two ACLU attorneys whose work she referenced in the brief. One of her colleagues advised against the inclusion, calling it a “violation of the canons.” She included them anyway. RBG insisted that these women deserved recognition. She realized that she was standing on their shoulders.

One of RBG’s lifelong assets was a husband who supported her through thick and thin. Over and again, she has praised him for sharing responsibility for their home and their children, making it possible for her to work like a fury. She chose well, and she knew it.

I believe that a truly powerful woman doesn’t let her achievements or influence go to her head. She is more likely to brag on other people than herself. She is not into currying favor or polishing her reputation just for the sake of notoriety or approval from others. She recognizes that this only makes her weaker by placing her fragile ego on full display where it can be easily exploited. For many people, bragging is actually a way of compensating for low self-esteem. As we grow more confident, we have no need to brag.

Humility is not a trendy trait these days. For those of us who hold fast to the importance of such old-fashioned values, it’s encouraging to see a woman reach the height of power—without pounding her chest.

Power Lesson: No matter how much success you achieve, never lose sight of the people who’ve aided and abetted your dreams. Recognize those people often. Pay those favors forward every chance you get.

I didn’t choose to read the Notorious RBG during March because of Women’s History Month, but in hindsight, it was an excellent way to revisit how women got the rights we now take for granted. Tell me about your favorite heroine in public service? Is it someone famous or not?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.