“Have perspective. Personal relationships matter. Keep a sense of humor.”
My mentor shared these three short statements with me two years ago when I asked for advice on how to be successful in my first job leading a large team of more than 200 people. Today, it sums up my leadership style.
For me, it all goes back to fifth grade. Anyone who knows me knows that my passion is mentoring middle school-aged girls. This is because that age was one of the most significant periods of change I experienced in my life. When I started fifth grade, I was sent off to a middle school that was not my neighborhood school. This meant that I had to make new friends and couldn’t carry my friendships from elementary school with me. This also meant that I was isolated from the friends in my neighborhood because they were going to the local school and having different experiences than my own. Being isolated and “the only one” that was bused to school was lonely at first and I was mad at my mom for forcing me into this situation. Over the years, I made new friends and received opportunities and experiences that others around me did not. Looking back, I am thankful for the hard choice that my mother made and grateful for her foresight in pushing me into new experiences so that I may have access to better opportunities.
and I haven’t looked back. My “dream job” is always one where I find myself faced with a big challenge and a high enough likelihood of failure that I have butterflies in my stomach almost all the time—but if I am successful, then the result is a huge impact on the business. The mentors in my life have pushed me into these situations when I was sometimes afraid to go on my own. They have also helped me learn from my mistakes, pick myself up, and keep moving ahead. My life and career have taken a variety of twists and turns, but at every intersection I’ve found a guiding hand to help make what turned out to be the right decisions. Surround yourself with people who will push the boundaries of what is possible, and you will do the impossible.