Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
The comment stung.
“I found her to be self-promoting.”
Last fall, I presented at a women’s conference. My session topic was a favorite of mine: vision, encouraging women to create their own futures. Shortly after the conference I received the written evaluations from participants, and there it was. That comment. Ouch! It was like a dagger in the heart.
The comment brought me back to the work I’d done years ago with my own personal coach around the topic of being selfish and what that meant for me. Like many people I was raised to not talk about my accomplishments. And if I did, it wasn’t uncommon to hear my mom say, “Don’t break your hand patting yourself on your back Ginny.” And so I learned at a young age that it wasn’t okay to embrace my own successes.
During the women’s conference session, I did embrace my successes. I shared my own story of creating a 5-, 10- and 15-year vision and how that helped me to do the work I do today. I shared stories of women who participated in our Women in Leadership groups and the visions they created and accomplished.
Is it self-promoting to talk with others about our passions, to connect about how we’re working to make a difference? Is it selfish for us to focus on the reason that we’re on this planet?
As the sting of that “self-promoting” comment wore off, it made me think about my word for 2013.
As many of you know, I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions because they don’t often lead to sustainable change. Instead, I pick a word for the year and make that my focus. I invite you to do the same by commenting your word for 2013 below. If you tell me your word, I promise to touch base with you throughout the year to see how it’s going.
I’m cheating a bit this year because I have two words: Purposeful Living.
My focus for 2013 is to continue living in accordance with my own purpose and to become even more diligent in helping others to live according to their purpose. It really does create a ripple effect. Think about the impact that you have not just on your co-workers, but also on your family when you are able to spend your day doing work that makes you feel alive. One of my recent MBA students said it well with these words in her final reflective paper: “Leadership can be defined in many different ways. Ultimately, I want to lead people, not with my title, but through my actions. I can’t do this unless I have a purpose and a vision. I wouldn’t start a road trip without a destination in mind, so why would I lead without a purpose.”
Success to me is helping others move closer to living in accordance with their life’s purpose. My own life purpose is to nurture and inspire others to reach for the stars. When I hear success stories from the men and women I am blessed to work with – whether those success stories are big or small – it reminds me that I’m doing the work I was put on this planet to do.
And I’m OK with promoting that.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go out and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Harold Whiteman
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Marianne Williamson
I’m not sure you can say that I write a “blog” when it has been two months since the last posting. I could say it is because I’ve been busy, but that would be an excuse. The truth is that I find myself wondering if something I write will be important enough to impact people’s thinking. Yes, this is ego at play. I find myself reading other writings and listening to other speakers and thinking, “wow, they have it together.”
And then I was introduced to the video link about everyday leadership and it has inspired me beyond words. In the past two weeks, I’ve shared the video with my MBA leadership class, our QC Leadership Academy and four of my Women in Leadership groups. In all cases, the results have made for engaging conversation about “lollipop moments” and yes, a few tears.
I encourage you not just to view this video, but to do two things. First, share it with others. And second, think about someone that has created a lollipop moment for you—and tell them about it.
Okay, one more request. Please share your moments with us in the comments section.
“When we are seen by the heart we are seen for who we are. We are valued in our uniqueness by those who are able to see us in this way and we become able to know and value ourselves” Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom
A campfire in the center. A camp counselor playing a guitar. Counselors with names like Birch and Patches and Froggie. And a circle of girls belting out their favorite songs. Sitting in circle at Girl Scout camp is among my favorite childhood memories (yes, even better than the Girl Scout cookies). Many times we would march to the campfire and begin with a ritual to remind us of the sacred space we were entering.
My early memories of campfires were perhaps the seeds of my passion for sitting in circle with other women. Circles are certainly not unique to Girl Scout camp; women and men have been sitting in circle for centuries prior to my experience.
I will admit though that after my Girl Scout years, I went for many years without experiencing the positive support and energy of a circle of women. I grew up as the only girl in a family with three older brothers. In my twenties and early thirties I didn’t appreciate the value of connecting closely with other women. About ten years ago a friend gave me a book called “Circle of Stones: A Woman’s Journey to Herself” by Judith Duerk. It is a book about the power of women coming together in a circle. “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you, a place for you to go to be with your mother, with your sisters and your aunts, with your grandmothers, and the great- and great-great-grandmothers, a place of women to go, to be, to return to, as woman? How might your life be different?”
Reading Circle of Stones re-ignited my earlier passion for circles. And I took action. Even before I left my previous job to start this company, I began inviting women to sit together monthly. Intuitively I knew that we were to sit in circles. Our first circles met in my living room and we created our own rules for coming together. Many of those early rules are in place today—and they are consistent with the guidelines put forth by others for creating circle as a sacred space. When we moved into my current office space, we continued to pull the chairs together and sit in circle. Building code doesn’t allow for a campfire at the center but we do have a place in the center with something representing each of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air.
Over the years I have had the privilege of creating leadership circles for hundreds of men and women. Why do people continue their commitment to these circles? Because the circle is a place where we can listen and learn and grow. Sarah, a woman in one of our leadership groups said the monthly meetings were “a place to breathe”. Another woman last week said the women’s leadership group is the one day a month that she most looks forward to coming to work.
If you’re not part of a circle right now, I encourage you to find one or create your own. Some websites and books to provide guidance are:
The Millionth Circle by Jean Shinoda Bolin
Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig
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