Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

We All Fly-Including Me

Posted: October 29, 2015 in Leadership
Tags: ,

Almost a year ago my dad had a heart attack and died. Our family and community lost a wonderful man who thoroughly enjoyed living, working, and loving. His celebrated life sparked something that has inspired me to make a few changes. After primarily staying at home with my family for the last twenty years and working part-time in the Family and Human Development field and secretary of my church (which I plan to continue), I made the decision to move into a marketing/real estate career. I began to stay up late pouring over business leadership books and quizzing my husband (to his dismay) when he would come home from work about sales and marketing strategies.

Late one night, my husband asked me about continuing in the Human Science field and maybe working for a government agency that I had previously wanted to work. I said, “no, I want to own the whole government!” Ha! Well, I know that’s a little absurd, but I realized that my expectations for the future in terms of employment, enjoyment, and fulfillment had shifted significantly. Four months ago, I started working as the marketing director for a real estate agent. Joy! Just recently, I finished the prerequisite sixty-hours of real estate school in order to take the Tennessee state licensing examination. If I’m honest with myself, I’ve always had these dreams of pursuing a career in business, but due to my own “gender restrictions” I never felt like it was a place for a mother with children. (Please, no rotten eggs!) Recently I read a book called, Lean In: Women, Work, and a Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I began to see the future with fresh eyes and a new mindset. I love taking care of my family. I’ll never stop, but I will do it with the mind-set that we all fly–including me. It doesn’t mean that we won’t gather back in the nest to trade flight stories and bandage each other’s wings. We will. And, we will laugh and play and love. I will teach, encourage, and share as much as my children need. I wouldn’t trade anything for the last twenty years of being home with my kids. They have been my life and focus. But, I’m not doing anyone any favors by sitting on my wings and holding tightly to theirs. As painful as it is, we all need to fly.

I joined Toastmasters in June which has helped me bridge this season of change. Toastmasters is helping me develop and polish leadership and communication skills. It gives me a place to practice new skills and baby step my way forward. It’s loads of fun! I’m thirsty for this part of my life! But–what about all my work with children and families? Is that still a passion? YES! Human Science is a great background for business. I mean–guess who my clientele will be? Humans!! But, seriously, I want to contribute to public policies and economic efforts to improve the lives of children and families (particularly those with disabilities) by working with others in providing opportunities for growth and development. Michael Maher speaks about the “generosity generation” in the book Seven Levels of Communication. It’s a beautiful story written primarily for real estate agents regarding giving and relationships. It pairs perfectly with human development theories of needs and desires. I feel like I have arrived at “my spot”–whatever that means. 🙂

The new season makes my heart race. Everyday I wake up and have to talk myself into “leaning in” to this new place. Maybe it will feel normal one day. And Daddy–he would be happy and proud. He thought everyone needed to work doing something they loved. He taught me to “lean in” a long time ago–I just didn’t know it.

Advertisements

Remember that the feeling of failure keeps company with shame, regret, and fear. They are not the company you need to keep. Allow yourself an abundance of grace and hope and get a good night’s rest. Believe that the end of today is not your story for tomorrow.

I heard about Toastmasters International several years ago, finally found a club near me and joined! I’m just getting started but already having a blast. If you are interested in improving your communication and leadership skills this is the club for you! It’s fun, affordable, and a quick way to learn. The Ice Breaker is the first speech in the Toastmasters Communication manual which is all about me (or you) or whoever is giving the speech! It’s a perfect way to confront the fear of standing in front of a new group of people. The subject is familiar and everyone is waiting to learn more about you in 4-6 minutes! If I can do it, I know you can!! I’m including the link to Toastmasters if you want to learn more or find a club near you. If you live in the Middle Tennessee area I would love to see you at our local club!!

My Ice Breaker is below. Although it looks short I delivered it in 5 minutes and 5 seconds. I had a difficult time finding the balance between too short and long. I was pretty happy to have stayed within the time frame. 🙂

***

The Ice Breaker:

Inspired

My dad died unexpectedly seven months ago. He was only 67. My father was an amazing man who lived out his dream of owning and operating a successful dairy farm his entire life. Suddenly life seemed very short and even a little fragile. Since his death I’ve spent time reflecting on my life’s dreams, and I’ve decided that it’s time for me to quit dreaming and start doing, which is why I’m here! I learned about Toastmasters 10 yrs ago at a leadership school. Ever since that day I’ve wanted to join. I work at Stones River Church and also lead advocacy projects in the community. I have a dream of being able to speak and authentically connect with people with skill and confidence.  So, in early June I signed up for Toastmasters. I immediately started working on my ice-breaker speech but, soon after, I started experiencing fear—fear of starting something new, fear of standing in front of a new group of people, fear of failure.  I almost quit before I ever started! But then I remembered something that challenged and inspired to lean into the fear instead of running away. I want to share this with you.

I have three children. My youngest son, Andrew, was born with low-vision. He is considered to be legally blind. When he was five years old he told me that he wanted to play golf. Now there were several sports that I had researched that might be a good fit for a child with low vision like swimming and track. Golf was not one of them!  So like every good mother, I wanted to protect my child from getting hurt and from experiencing failure, and I did everything I could to discourage Andrew of his dream of playing golf. He didn’t give up! When he was seven years old my husband and I gave in and signed him up for golf lessons hoping that it would be the end of his ambition to play golf. He loved them! Now Andrew is thirteen years old. He plays in golf tournaments all over Tennessee through the Special Olympics. He’s good and getting better every day. Recently, I asked Andrew two questions about his golf game.

“How do you see the ball?” I asked.

He answered, “I don’t. I just know it’s there.”

Then I asked, “What happens when you can’t find the ball after you hit it?”

He said, “It’s simple; I ask for help.”

To conclude there are three things I learned from Andrew regarding golf: 1. Relentlessly pursue your dreams. 2. You don’t always have to see the ball to be a part of the game (don’t fear the unknown)  2. Ask and trust that others will help you along he way.

I’m grateful for how my dad has inspired me through the grief and sadness to look ahead, and I’m grateful for my son and how he overcomes obstacles daily to pursue his dreams. And I’m thankful for being able to take this next step of my life with each of you.

Andrew and his golfing buddy, John.

Andrew and his golfing buddy, John.

***

https://www.toastmasters.org/

http://heartoftennessee.toastmastersclubs.org/