Do you ever have moments where you realize that despite stress and pressure, everything is going to be okay? Last weekend I had the pleasure of being a panelist speaker at the Women of Isenberg Conference, held at UMass Amherst by the Women in Business club and the conference steering committee. And it wasn’t in my presentation, but sitting in the session following mine, that this clarity overcame me.
In the past, I’ve reviewed some key takeaways by going through my notes from what other speakers shared. This year, my takeaway was more existential than any one piece of advice I heard. Listening to the experiences of others, I didn’t feel alone. I felt kinship and admiration that the women at the microphone had overcome obstacles I had also previously faced to achieve happiness and self-defined success in their lives and careers. I heard the stories of happy outcomes, and within them the hard work, the resilience, and the perseverance.
What I heard from the women on stage was that what was most important to remember is life is full of ups and downs. The quality of life with those ups and downs is highly impacted by how we react and who we surround ourselves with.
We have a choice to be positive. Or, complain and wallow.
We have a choice to take action. Or, sit back and do nothing.
We have a choice to be courageous. Or, decide any risk is too much risk.
Isn’t it clear where we need to be headed with our choices? And for those of us who are in and aspire to leadership roles, there is even more impact on those around us by how we make our choices and reactions.
As leaders, we need to force ourselves to be challenged, and be receptive of and advocates for those productive challenges. No idea is ever as great as it can be when first presented. A diversity in thought and experience adds to the initial benefits to improve what is possible. And a challenge doesn’t automatically mean no, but is a recognition of barriers that can be overcome.
As leaders, we need to lift up others around us in spirit, recognizing the power of appreciation. From a simple thank you to rewards and major recognitions, and everything in between, go to the very base human nature of needing to feel involved, engaged, and a part of the team. We’re better together than alone.
As leaders, we need to remember that we and our teams are humans, capable of yes, making the impossible happen, but also not infallible or perfect. Career isn’t everything, and family and home sometimes need to come first. Breaks in action or slowing down on the accelerator are perfect career opportunities. It doesn’t need to be nose to the grind every single moment. Breath and reset.
Lately, I felt like I had been struggling through life. I wondered if I was using my resources enough, burning both ends of the candle, giving too much when I didn’t have enough energy or time. I’ve been fortunate to receive some kind words recently, from my professional world, volunteer arenas, and personal life. Everything came together, and seeing the success of others at the Women of Isenberg Conference reminded me that nothing except a few points in a plane is truly linear (remember geometry?!). Success is an internal measurement, though society likes us to believe it measures externally for us. Onward doesn’t always mean upward, change isn’t always for the better, and we aren’t always right at first glance.
The important thing is to enjoy work, enjoy life, enjoy the people we love. Have fun every day with whatever you choose to pursue. It makes the efforts more tolerable and gives us the ability to savor sweetness of success, however we define it.
Remember that things will be okay. If you feel like you’re failing, it is because you care. It takes time and self love to learn we aren’t failing, we aren’t falling behind, and we aren’t imposters. Not everything is perfect, but we have choices in what we do with what life and career bring to us. Besides, a ladder is a lot of work to climb. Doesn’t a career jungle gym sound like more fun?