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THE BACK STORY
At 37, I pulled a do-over card.
Out went my 6-figure executive position, my expense account, my designer wardrobe and my NYC mindset. In came the other coast with its the casual lifestyle, the entrepreneurial roller coaster and the disorientation that accompanies a major geographic move.
Once settled in my house on the beach with my golden retriever puppy, and my brand-spanking new Masters of Psychology, I needed a new goal.
I thought I wanted to be pregnant. I was wrong.
After a year of failed attempts to get pregnant, I crashed headlong into a Choicepoint, one of those moments that disrupt our norm and sets a new course for our life .
One August night, having finished off the better part of a bottle of wine, I decided to have it out with G-d. I was disappointed, frustrated and angry! “Why can’t I get pregnant?!!” I screamed. “What’s wrong with me!” Have you ever been there; in that place where no matter what you do, nothing works and you’re out of ideas?
So I did the only thing I knew how to, in that moment— I cried, blamed, begged, and groveled to some unseen force that I was certain was standing in the way of my pregnancy. Ugly, I know. I had pretty much became my lowest life form when, exhausted, I crumbled to the floor in total despair. Which is when I finally got quiet.
Spent, I decided to meditate – maybe my inner voice had some snippet of wisdom for me.
My inner voice said, “What do you want?” I said, “I want to be pregnant.”
My inner voice said, “What do you want?” I said,“I want to be pregnant.”
My inner voice said, “What do you want?” I said, “I want to be pregnant.”
Back and forth we went for twenty excruciatingly painful minutes.
Then, absolute quiet when I finally got the message.
I didn’t want to be pregnant. I wanted to be a mommy!
During these past 16 months, I’d been so resolute on the ‘how’ that I’d completely lost sight of my ultimate goal. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be about the journey, not the destination. Well, that’s true, except for when it’s not. Pregnancy lasts 9 months, while being a mommy lasts a life time.
So, what happened?
Within a year of that Choicepoint moment on a sweltering August night, I flew to Cambodia to bring my newborn daughter home. Four years later her newborn brother joined our family. Yea, pretty awesome.
Much of what I learned has been in hindsight, looking back on who I’d been and what I did during that interminably long, bleak, infertile period. Most learning is like that. In the moment we’re, well, in the moment. It’s later, if we take the time to reflect, that we can then see the value of our experience.
“It is who we become as a result of the experience, not the experience itself, which is most valuable.”
– W.O.W. #50
- After the fact, do you really care how you found the perfect person to fill that high level position, as long as you found him or her? With the right person in place, your business will now reach its goals.
- Once all your debt is paid off, does it really matter whether you did it through earning a promotion, winning the lottery, or securing a second job to supplement your income? Your debt is paid off.
- It took you a year to drop those thirty pounds you gained when your wife was pregnant- isn’t your healthier body more important than how long it took you? Your risk for heart disease has dramatically diminished.
01 . Commit to what you want, and the “how” will appear.
Commitment is essential to our success in everything we do. If we’re not committed, it’s easy to give up after a few failed attempts. If we’re not committed we can get waylaid by shiny objects. When we’re truly committed, we will move mountains to get what we want. The people who are unwilling to do whatever it takes to reach their goals are the ones who don’t get there.
02 . Give up your back door.
There are no backsies on babies. Once you’re in, you’re in. If you discover that you don’t like being a parent, too bad. You signed up for life, and life is what you got. The same is true for leadership— you can’t be half-in, almost-in, or in once-in-a-while when you feel like it. Like parenting, being a leader is a full time job- 24/7/365. Both will keep you up at night, make you second guess your instincts and test your mettle.
03 . The most valuable learning takes place ‘on the job’.
Years ago, the books recommended getting a puppy in preparation for becoming a parent. That is really bad advice: There’s no correlation between parenting these two distinct mammals. Parenting is 25+ years of on-the-job training with a succession of increasingly difficult tests. Just when you think to yourself, “I’ve got this”, your child grows to the next developmental stage and you, as the parent, get to have new “on the job” training.
Ditto for leadership.
04 . You’re never really ready for the goals you set.
You’re never ready to lead; you just do it! The minute your team is in place, something will happen for which you feel unprepared. Guaranteed. A new business crisis, an upset on your team, a client fires you.
As a leader and a parent, you will consistently grow, learn, adjust, and course correct.
05 . You’re more resilient, stronger & more capable than you think.
There were many days, wait, make that months, when I questioned whether I could ‘do this’, meaning parent. I could, and I did, and I still do. Sometimes I fail miserably and sometimes I exceed my own expectations; most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle.
As a leader you’ll face circumstances you could never, in your wildest nightmare, imagine. You’ll also soar to the heights of success when you least expect it. Both come with the territory.
06 . You will need to withstand a bit of humiliation, be humble and remember your humanity.
Parenting, like being a leader, is a messy job. Yes, it’s quite rewarding. No, you wouldn’t trade it for the world. Yes, you misdiagnosed that fever and now your 11-month-old is in the hospital. No, it wasn’t on purpose.
Yes, your instincts misguided you when you hired that senior exec who damaged your company’s morale and sent your employees running for the hills. No, it didn’t send the company into ruins.
Your ability to withstand humiliation, to be humble and kind, and to remember you’re human will go a long way in developing yourself as a leader, as a parent and as a person.
07 . Trust yourself.
Just as there’s no perfect parent, there’s no perfect leader. Everyone you know will be happy to comment, criticize or judge you on both. Don’t ignore the input, but trust yourself first.
The biggest mistakes we make in both parenting and leading is allowing outside influences to erode our self-trust. Though I haven’t done research on it, I can say that most of the leaders I’ve worked with end up regretting it when they didn’t listen to their instincts. It sounds like this: “I knew I shouldn’t have….” “Something was ‘off’ on that strategy- I just knew it!” “I wanted to give my HR Director latitude on that hire, but I knew it was the wrong person from the moment I met him.”
Not a parent? It doesn’t matter.
These are life lessons and they can be applied to relationships, collaboration on your team, your family, and any BIG IDEA. Keep learning. To your impact!
#leadership #success #goals #failure
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