Just in case you didn’t already know I LOVE Michelle Obama! So when I found out that I was going to be in the same room with her, I immediately did a happy dance. After I saw the rest of the lineup for the #Pennwomen conference I cleared my calendar knowing that I was not going to want to miss any part of the conference experience. The #Pennwomen conference was a cast of powerful, smart and accomplished women that have all become my mentors in my head. After all, we were in the same room, and they were talking to me right?! I am challenging myself to put their words into action, I am going to do somethings that will be disruptive and I think my future self will thank me for it. I want to share some quotes/ key takeaways that my mentors shared with me.
- “It is your duty to use your seat at the table, if you are not going to use your seat give it up and let someone else have the opportunity to add value.” Michelle Obama
This quote confirmed that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Because I am here, wherever here is, the people that are in the room (and the people not) are relying on me to bring my unique perspective as a contribution to solving difficult problems. Every situation is an opportunity to learn as well as contribute. Most importantly as I contribute, I inspire others to do the same. What I hear my mentor Michelle telling me is—Don’t leave the hard stuff to someone else.
- “There are moments when you will lack confidence but if you can summon the courage that will sustain you in the moment you will thank yourself for pushing past your fear.” Carla Harris
This world is scary. I believe fear can be a healthy calibrator of recklessness, but fear can also be a product of over thinking which I am often guilty of. In moments of counterproductive fear or anxiety, I will choose to summon the courage to have difficult conversations. I will compel myself to address the pink elephant in the room that may otherwise have been talked around. Someone has to—it might as well be me.
- “Speak truth to b@ll$h!t, lying is understanding the truth but choosing to ignore bull$h!t does not care if the truth exists as long as people repeat it.” Rene Brown
I tried to find a synonym to the curse word in this quote, but in my research I could not find a word that was an effective synonym not to mention it is a direct quote. If you know one that’s not an emoji, post to comments. Now that I think about it—looking for an alternative to b@ll$h!t is a form of b@ll$h!t in itself.
I want to get better at compelling myself to use my voice this way, but this requires some bravery. It takes desire for true resolution to invite candor into a discussion, but when bull$h!t gets introduced—it takes courage and diplomacy to call it what it is and sustain the relationship.
There I have said it… the R word. Relationships are a part of every difficult decision. When I am faced with a tough choice, I ask myself how my choice could impact my relationship with this person. Immediately after, I ask how could this effect my relationship with myself?
I use a little test to see if I should speak up if I must bite the inside of my lip to be quiet then I should probably say something because my conscience (I call her Virginia) is coaching me in the moment to set the record straight
- “People overlook the things that they have the most power over, influence the people and things closest to you, many times people choose to go out to fight the big challenges in the world but will not confront the issues within their own reach.” Michelle Obama
This was my ah-ha moment! I am an investor in people. I see the wins of the people that I support as my own. The people in my orbit are a reflection of my commitment to solve difficult problems. If I can influence them, I can impact change in both my personal and professional life. When I stop to think about my ability to positively influence others, every interaction and conversation means a little bit more.
I was given the opportunity to attend the conference because of my work as the chair of the Black Resource Group, this learning experience was a great reward for that work and will influence it going forward. Thank you #PennWomen for giving me world-class “mental mentors”. To truly live into their advice—I need to be disruptive. I know my future self will thank me for it.