Life shapes us. The moments where we feel seen and valued. The moments defined by pain or loss. Who we are takes shape across a lifetime of experiences. And as we are shaped, what emerges are our values and life purpose.
For me, my values were forged from a childhood that, while ideal from the outside, was marred by family chaos, religious dogma, and multi-layered abuse. But as the old hymn (and Dr. Maya Angelou) says, “I wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.” This path has made me the person, sister, friend, auntie, I am today. The journey made me the leader I am to my teams, my clients, and others who look to me for guidance.
Leadership is a privilege.
These days, I focus my leadership on coaching individuals and advising companies. To do that well, it is key that my skills and purpose are values-based. My personal leadership philosophy is centered around the following four core values.
“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.
I learned agency from the masters…Maya Angelou, Grace Hopper, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bell Hooks, Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters. Agency looks like the ability to make sense of (or minimize) the noise in my life, think things through clearly, and then advocate for myself. With agency, I can stop being a victim. Stop being a people pleaser. Stop waiting for someone to rescue me, and instead save myself.
Agency requires me to: (1)own my mistakes and seek to repair damage I’ve done, (2) choose the amount and type of information and stimulus I allow into my mind, (3) select purposefully who I allow into my life, home, and community, (4) have a willingness to learn, grow, and be open-minded to how others approach things. Agency allows me to take a deep breath and think before I act. Agency also says that whatever the outcome, I will deal with my choices and consequences.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
I am unendingly curious about humans and their stories. My curiosity is behind why I love books so much. Curiosity is behind why I spent a career building products. Curiosity is behind my choice to become a coach.
As a coach, I want to hear other people’s stories and then help them tell those stories back to themselves and others in a way that they will be seen, heard, and valued for their offering to the world. To do this I employ deep listening and try to ask more questions than I speak opinions. This way of being will push people out of their comfort zones at times and will force us to challenge ourselves to think in new ways and consider new ideas. I believe curiosity is at the heart of the change we each want in our lives.
“The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.”
Connection is at the heart of belonging and points to purpose. Making connections requires that I listen all the way to the end of people’s sentences and use the power of the phrase “tell me more” to go deeper. Because everyone is on a journey, I try to assume good intent in the words and actions of others. I want us all to be better, to grow, and to have joy.
Along the way, each of us can be fully ourselves. Authenticity and the power of owning our story are embedded in real and meaningful connection. No need to pretend or to hustle for approval. I seek connection to myself, connection to others (including my clients), and connection to community. Who you are is important to me, not just what you do. I promise to have high expectations, be positive about what we can achieve together, and celebrate wins, big and small.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
Courage is a cornerstone of my life both personally and professionally. Like many of us, I have had to show bravery in the face of adversity to achieve success. Through those struggles, I have learned to do what is right, even when it is hard. I don’t believe in sitting back and waiting for something to happen. Instead, I believe we must test bold ideas and go on adventures into uncertainty until we find a solution that will delight us. This means being open to difficult, candid, but kind conversations. For me, the courage to have a strong point of view and listen to diverse points of view are not in conflict, but in harmony towards being our best.
As a leader, where I am strong I will continue to grow stronger and where I am weak, I will lean into learning. I want to advise and coach in such a way that I create space for others to do work that serves a purpose and live lives that feed them body, mind, and spirit. And for myself I want a life that feels like freedom to take risks, peace amidst the chaos, and sparkly bits of love and joy.