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"Redefining Success: Don't Stand on Your Own Way to a Fulfilling Career"

on March 06, 2024

"Redefining Success: Don't Stand on Your Own Way to a Fulfilling Career"

Once, right after starting her first job, a girl discovered she wanted to be a great leader. 

To get there, she had a plan. 

  • work on her growth strategy, 
  • read a relevant book every month, 
  • network with peers and key players in her industry, 
  • take a class on communication, 
  • hire a coach, 
  • and many other things to grow her career and become the version of herself she dreamed of.

But there was an impediment.

She could not stand having her email inbox full at the end of every day. Her emails were too important; after all, projects would only be completed if the communication was the fastest it could be.

And she would not accept that- not while she was in charge. Everyone's email inbox piles up, it’s true, but she was not like everyone; she was better.

How else could she convince her superiors that she could be a great leader if she wasn't effective in every way? she thought. 

Hoping to be even more efficient, she followed up with everyone else to ensure projects were on track.

And so she did this every day. And everyone admired her attitude. And projects did get done. 

But after years, she realized that this behavior she so proudly displayed had prevented her from working on her dreams and improving herself.

She had yet to do any of the things she knew were crucial to her growth, but she thought it was too late. This was who she had always been. How could she change now? 

One day, a messenger from The King came to the village. "Everyone who had read a book, taken improvement classes, learned a second language and networked with peers would be invited to the palace and considered for a promotion.

And our girl was heartbroken because even though she had worked diligently and helped everyone and every project stay on track, she had done nothing of the things the king wanted and valued.

And a fairy godmother did not arrive to make everything right because our story occurred in real life.

This story silently repeats itself in many cultures and generations, and we perpetuate it by giving our daughters and younger women in our lives the impression that we are responsible for making everything right for others at home, at work, in our classrooms, at our kids’ schools, and in our neighborhoods and communities. 

We feel proud to breastfeed with one arm and type a work email with the other hand while dinner is cooking, without realizing that being there for everyone all the time often comes at the expense of our dreams. 

Not because we can does it mean we should. We owe our greatest loyalty to ourselves. 

A woman I recently met and almost instantly admired, Teresa Baró, says something like this in her book #Imparables -in English unstoppable-: "One of the most valuable things you can do for your career is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable."

That discomfort often comes from stopping behaviors from which we derive an unhealthy sense of worth. 

Suddenly starting to act differently can be terrifying. What will others think has gotten into us? Will they still like me?

But in doing it, we may open a space for the things we know we want and spend a lifetime postponing. 

It is never too late:

  • Be comfortable with not giving 100% to your job every day "in lieu" of spending time building a better and more efficient you. 
  • Be comfortable with a difficult conversation you had with a colleague today. People worth having in your life understand that valuable relationships are a long game and are not defined by nuances.  
  • Be comfortable with a project that is falling behind. Be assertive about the status, but don't carry the world's weight on your shoulders.
  • Be comfortable with not being liked. Likeability or dislikeability are never absolute. The camera does not stop rolling. Ignore the noise and keep bringing value.
  • Be comfortable with making a mistake. Laugh at yourself. Be shameless. A mistake should not be an alarm to work harder; on the contrary, it should be a call to stop, reflect, rest and come back at it with renewed strength and perspective. 
  • Be comfortable with yourself as you are today. Zen master Seng-tsan taught that "true freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection." How brilliant is this quote? True freedom comes from being okay with not being perfect. 

When the kings and queens of the world come calling, you'll be the girl they want, and they'll be lucky to have you

Don’t stand in your way

Ana Lovera, Founder, Sourcing Values Inc. and host of Women Automotive Summit Detroit, June 4th 2024

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