Last week for International Womens’ Day, I was asked to give a speech as part of an inaugural Womens’ Group. I joined two other wonderful women who gave their perspectives on today’s world of work for women.
I took a slightly different bent and talked about the lessons I had learnt in my life to date.
These are those lessons:
That every experience, even if it hard at the time – teaches you something. The trick, as always – is being open to learning the lessons and to identifying what you’ve learnt. And that the culmination of all those life experiences (good and bad, easy and hard) makes you into the person you are today.
To take every opportunity that comes your way and run with it – even if you are not sure (the chatter in your head) whether you can actually do it.. More than likely – you can do it, and if not, you’ll certainly learn a lot along the way. (As an aside- an interesting piece of research that shows that women are less likely to apply for a job unless they meet all the criteria; men (as a generalization) are much more likely to apply irrespective of how much of the criteria they meet.
That you’ll learn from every boss (even if that is how not to do things), but there will be some very special people that teach you, nurture you, make an impact that is life changing. For me, there are four bosses that fall into that category over my career. All very different – all extraordinary leaders in their own right.
That sometimes you need to back yourself and believe in yourself – even if no one else is believing in you. Don’t let others define who you are.
That being clear on what your values are and what is important to you is necessary, sometimes you need to be clear on what is right for you and what is not. Your values help clear the noise around some of that. Do what is right, not what is easy.
That there may come a time when career becomes only one part of a life that needs more than just work. That there may come a time when family, volunteering, fitness, hobbies, friendships – all contribute to making a more holistic (I hesitate to use the word “balanced”) life. This is not to be feared – even if you have defined yourself by your career to that point. The great thing is that as humans we can keep changing, keep evolving.
That if giving back becomes important to you – that it doesn’t need to be going off to save the starving children in Africa (although you can do that too).. That there is a lot to be said for just doing something.. Anything. Even if it is small. Even if it only impacts your immediate family, community etc. “.
The action of just beginning a task changes everything. And a waterfall is the sum and interaction of many drops of water..”
That looking after yourself is so important –having a clear and healthy mind and a strong and healthy body will enable you to navigate so many of life’s challenges. And that looking after yourself, your dreams, your ambitions; before anyone else is so important.
And finally, that no man is an island – that we all need help and it is ok to need (in fact, embrace) help.. Whatever form that might take – a supportive and loving nuclear family, extended family looking after the kids, a cleaning person, getting your groceries delivered. Letting go of the need for perfection helps too… (in my case, my beautifully ordered pantry and linen cupboard).
I finished up with reading some words from Emily Parish, co founder of the Telethon Adventurers – and one of the most inspirational and courageous women I know:
“..Be kinder to yourself, the chatter inside can slow you down and not move you forward.
Look after YOU as BEST you can: have the best health, the best food the best everything…that you possibly can.
Savour your treats.. less but the BEST…it alters things
Move your body most importantly. As a woman if you feel good about YOU, that transpires through everything…natural endorphins can help you through anything and bring happiness even in the darkest of times…
The right perspective shows we can do so much more than we think we can – it is just the conversation we have with ourselves.?
Simplify; You can do and have less but achieve and feel more
Life is too short to waste..”