I have been fortunate to work in and support an industry that I am passionate about – healthcare. I believe one of the keys to success is finding what drives you and gives you energy, and those who aspire to be tomorrow’s leaders should find something they are passionate about. Ultimately that passion will strengthen and sustain you, and provide energy and leadership to your organization. When you want something and believe in something, borrowing a phrase from one of my favorite books, The Alchemist, “All the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
I think that’s been true of my life, and I trust it can hold true for others.
Seeking, learning, and sharing have all been a part of my career. When choosing my first job out of college, an executive told me to first focus on the industry that interests you, and for me that was healthcare. My grandfather’s advice at that same time was that one should find a job that allows you to understand the business and the people who support the business before you aspire to run a business. By first being a student and a learner in the business, you build intuition and knowledge which allows you to make better and faster decisions in the future.
While it’s important to find roles that make you a quick study of your business, it’s equally as important to be flexible about where your path may lead. I never sat back and said I have to have that job at this point in time. I have had a lot of fortunate experiences where I was asked to figure out a new strategy or build something new, and I found that you never know what might spark a new idea, a new business or a new role to consider.
As I talk to women about career ladders, I encourage them to not think of them only in terms of going up. On the path to a leadership position, women shouldn’t be afraid to consider lateral moves or a variety of individual contributor and leadership roles. And when they find it necessary for personal reasons, they should not be afraid to say, “This is what’s right for me, right now.” I have found that people will support and respect those women who have the courage to declare those intentions.
Having that courage to choose what is right for you at any given point in your life and career can be liberating, and allows you to define success on your own terms. That courage, passion and understanding of people is what will give you the opportunity and privilege to lead.