The pursuit of balance, organization, goals… The advice abounds, yet the pursuit seems to never end. We find ourselves starting over, starting again, wondering if we are even on the right path, capable, able. It can be exhausting, and in the midst of striving to achieve, life passes us by, we miss the moments, we miss becoming.
Two young women have approached me in recent months asking me about my career path, how I managed family, career, success. Questions like this never come easy, because I find most of us don’t see ourselves the way others see us. I struggled to answer. I have never had a career path, real career aspirations. No doubt early in my career I did, but as life began to emerge those quickly faded. Marriage, the desire for children, building a home and a life with family, those have been my aspirations. Managing those well have been my priority. The career, the opportunities before me now, those are icing on the cake. I like to think they are the result of a life well lived, an opportunity to be who I am, not tasks, not plans, not rungs on a ladder.
As I sought to answer both women with honesty, seizing the moment to influence another this is what I shared.
First and foremost, be who you say you are and be who you are no matter the circumstance. I am a Christian first and foremost. Every decision I make flows from a place of faith and I seek to align my decisions with the Word of God, His precepts, His ways. How I make my decisions, who I desire to be doesn’t change based upon my role. I am who I am, and that is simply a woman of faith seeking to serve God.
Second, do what you say you are going to do. Commitment, honesty, integrity-traits lost in a world where power and position, being a “company” woman/man pays bigger dividends. Yet commitment, honesty, integrity are lasting. Doing what we say we are going to do has lasting impact, builds relationships, builds trust, builds reputation.
Finally, do everything you do with excellence. Excellence is not perfection. Excellence is not about being right, or being the best. Excellence is about being your best and doing your best. Excellence is about caring, caring that the product you produce reflects the very best. In a world where outputs and outcomes reign, those who influence, those who create impact, will stay the course.
The words above may seem to simplistic. They aren’t the words of advice I would have shared in my late twenties/early thirties. But they are the words I live by. I am not a wife, mom, community engagement officer out to achieve. I am a wife, mom and community engagement officer because that is who God has called me to be. Those are the opportunities He has given me. My only desire is to be who I am and influence others. That is my secret to staying focused and organized. When you know who you are and you focus upon influence (relationship with others) it’s easy to know what matters and what doesn’t. It’s easy to stay motivated. It’s easy to to release the future and focus on the next step.
Years ago, a mentor passed this anonymous poem along to me. It became a part of my life mission. I keep it with me at all times-it finds it’s home in the front of my planner. I share it with you, hoping it encourages you, helps you settle upon the woman you are. The plans, the tasks-they will all fall in place. But first, YOU. Your power will unfold as you embrace who you are. Who you are matters more than what you do.
*If you follow me on Facebook you know I had an opportunity to celebrate this advice with one of my daughters. I have spent 19 years giving my daughters this same advice, and it paid off. My daughter, a freshman, was given the Greek Life Woman of Integrity Award. I am so proud of her, so thrilled she is learning to live the “who” over the “what”.