Courage to Write Your Own Story

I was raised in a large traditional family where the definition of success for girls was to marry a nice man and have many children. Education and career weren’t important. This was perceived as an act of selfishness that would minimize male dominance. That never set well with me. Of course, I wanted to be married to a nice man, and have children. But I also wanted a career I loved. Why couldn’t I have both?

Fortunately, I had a grandma who believed in me. She would secretly tell me “You can be anyone you want to be. Go out there and write your own story.” I carried her words throughout my life, and today, I can say I succeeded at that. I’ve written my own story. However, the journey hasn’t been easy.

Early in my career I focused on working hard and following directions. I had great ideas, but I didn’t have an independent voice. I was submissive. This felt comfortable to me. I delivered great results in the format requested. I stood on the side lines, waiting to be noticed for my good work. And I was rewarded with promotions. I was on my way … until I was rejected for a senior leadership position.

Wait… What?

I was told that I wasn’t strategic. I was shocked. It took a lot of soul searching to understand the rejection. As I look back, I realize I wasn’t ready for a promotion to senior management. There’s a point in every career when mastering trade skills just isn’t good enough. What got me here wasn’t what would get me there.

I took the most important step in my career. I asked for help. I enlisted a coach who helped me overcome my shortcomings and envision what could be. Over time I stepped out of my comfort zone and built enough confidence to speak up, have an independent voice, and challenge the status quo. I gained a great appreciation for anticipating business needs, interpreting data points, building alliances and influencing change. I took risks, pushed the boundaries, and jumped into that arena with both feet and a different mindset. I rebranded myself as a strategic leader. That senior leadership role did come my way again and this time I was ready. Every rejection is simply a redirection. I’m still learning and writing my story.