Pivotal Moments and Lessons Learned
Just go for it!
After college I had a great job in Idaho. But my goal was to move to San Francisco and see what opportunities awaited me there. I slept on the couch of a gracious friend until I landed a job. Was I nervous and intimidated, and not sure how I was going to make ends meet? For sure, but as women we need to push ourselves more and be okay with being a little uncomfortable and taking risks to open up new opportunities and growth.
If you come across it, let skepticism be a powerful motivator. One of the biggest doubters I experienced in my career became my most impactful mentor, and he had a profound effect on my journey. Do not lose confidence in your capabilities or be afraid to have your voice heard or to propose solutions, especially when working in a mainly male-dominated environment.
Mentors and role models are extremely important. I have been fortunate to have many excellent ones and continue to benefit greatly from this crucial component. One key lesson learned is that driving your career, and learning as much as you can from your managers, is your own responsibility. Ask your managers for advice on how to handle tricky situations, and why or how they do something the way they do. Observe how they lead and handle challenging situations, and think about how you would lead or handle similar situations if you were in their shoes.
A second notable lesson is this: Make sure you find and build a relationship with a mentor outside of, or at least a couple levels above, your direct reporting line. Beyond the obvious gains, she or he can open doors for you when you need it the most. At one point, I was not challenged enough in my role. I asked my mentor for advice and if any potential opportunities were available that would offer learning in a challenging environment. Two days later he called with one that was completely different from anything I had done before, and I had no idea where to begin. However, I immediately said yes and dove in.
Purposefully seek out stretch assignments as they can become the most pivotal moments in your career.
It has come full circle for me today, as one of the most rewarding things I do is help guide and mentor women inside and outside my organization.