In my graduate-level “MCH Delivery Systems” course a couple of weeks ago, I described to the students the lifecourse perspective, an idea that includes the concept that there are critical and sensitive periods in our lives, from a physiological standpoint, that may have long-lasting ramifications for our reproductive trajectories, and possibly for a lifetime.
This year, for me, has been one of those critical and sensitive periods, for my professional journey.
Today’s date, February 28, is very important as an inflection point in my life and career. On February 28, 2017, I started a new life, one of business owner, entrepreneur, consultant, and coach. On that day, I did not know exactly what the year would bring, and how the business would develop. I only knew that I felt I was making the right step, at the right time, and that somehow the path would reveal itself. Sometimes, that type of faith is all we have, and our only job is to trust it.
I asked EverThrive Illinois’ Administrative Assistant, Joanna Medina, to take this picture of me that morning, during one of the last instances I would sit at my desk. The staff had hosted a lovely farewell breakfast for me that morning when I arrived, complete with a surprise video they created to say goodbye. I came back to the desk (which was in the cleanest state it had been in since I started 6.5 years prior), wrote a note to my successor, and left around noon to teach my “Lessons in Nonprofit Management” course at Northwestern. In March, I spent a lot of time journaling, sitting on my couch, and picking up my daughter from the bus stop; during April – June, I spent time talking to other consultants, coaches, nonprofit leaders, and others in the social good sector. In July, I incorporated Soar Strategies, Inc.
During my coaching training in 2017, I learned how “the being” and “the doing” are equally important. Most of us who have been successful in our careers are focused on, and rewarded for, “the doing”, and we neglect “the being”. In honor of that discovery, I won’t list my accomplishments of the past year (which include running my first half-marathon – oh, I couldn’t resist!), but would rather like to share who I had to BE to move into my new life, and my new career.
1. I had to be discerning – I had to figure out which projects and clients lit me up, and which didn’t, and consciously and consistently go towards the former choice.
2. I had to be self-forgiving – when I didn’t enroll a potential client, or when I didn’t get through my over-packed to-do list for the day, I had to move on quickly, and realize tomorrow is another opportunity to improve.
3. I had to be (mostly) fearless – a little fear is a good thing. Too much, and you miss out on cool opportunities.
4. I had to be extroverted – or, at least play one on TV! I am an introvert, but when you are a business owner, YOU are the brand. So I had to play the role of an extrovert to network, present in front of crowds, and let myself be seen.
5. I had to be honest, with myself and others – As many of you know, I am trying to eliminate any “lukewarm yes” responses in 2018. This means that I am saying “no” to things, and divesting from projects, at a faster pace that I ever have. It is uncomfortable. But I am trying to only say “yes” to things that excite me.
It has truly been a wonderful year, and ended up going in directions I never expected when I walked out the door at EverThrive Illinois on 2/28/17. I have had some great trips; met some amazing people; and been more present in my own life this year than in many others of my adult life.
I have loved owning my own business, and developing my coaching and consulting practice and services. It’s hard some days, and joyous others. But I wouldn’t trade being “the captain” of my own fate”, and my own boss, for anything.
I thank everyone who has given me advice, connected me to a client, given me an encouraging word, attended a session at which I’ve presented, or supported me in any way. A business cannot be successful without many people in the wings, acting as mentors and sponsors. I appreciate you all, and could not have had the amazing experiences of the past year without your support. Thank you.
Who do you have to BE to step into your next opportunity?