Monday, November 4, 2013

To Be or Not to Be

So many thoughts...

I'm trying to figure out who I am; who I want to be; and how to continue that journey.  I want to help.. to make an impact.. to create change in areas in the community that need it. I want to look back in a year or 5 or 10 and see that something (anything really) is better than it was when I started.

Currently, I am doing that in my job with Emerge Tampa Bay.  
I am serving as an advisor with ADPi at USF overseeing membership education. 
I joined the board of the Sulphur Springs YMCA.
I am serving on the Adelphean Compass Committee for Leadership Seminar 2014
I joined the YES! Committee with the Centre Club 
I am considering being an ambassador with Metropolitan Ministries

I share this because I'm trying to figure out my life's mission statement. I want to make sure I am living my purpose and not saying yes to everything. I wrote this statement a while back and feel it still holds true today.

"I am striving to be the change in my community. I'm living each day trying to make a difference. I am just a normal girl with a big dream! My dream is for all of us to be the best people possible! The sky is the limit if we all work together! We need to love each other and lift each other up. We all have our bad days, but imagine if everyone around you supported you and loved you no matter what the situation. Some say "Let your life make a statement"...well what statement are you going to make?

I am standing here announcing to you that I want to make a difference. Not only do I want to...I'm going to. I'm not going to sit around waiting for someone else to do it!! I am going to be the change!

"sincere" derived from the Latin sine = "without", cera = "wax". I am going to live my life WITHOUT WAX...sincerely!!

If you ever need anything, I will listen and I won't pass judgment. It's not my place to judge you. It's my place to love you and be your friend unconditionally!"

When asked about my life goals--that's often what I say. "I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in the lives of others the way Megan Vadnais was a change-agent and mentor to me.  If I can impact one person's life... that is enough."  

The question I often think as I'm saying this--is that even a goal? People tell me all the time that I'm already doing that. What else? Yikes! I don't know what else and I think that's where I get stuck.  There is so much to be accomplished, but how do you know where to begin?  The organizations I am involved in have a purpose for me.  They provide an opportunity to give back and share my skills to make these organizations stronger--building up our future leaders or serving as a brand ambassador for things I think are important.  I think you represent every brand you carry for better or worse.  How do you determine what level you support each group? Some choose to be all in to one cause or one organization; others choose to many organizations to be apart of.  I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do this--but what way should I choose? What way makes sense for me ... 

I ask this advice of my mentors often. I receive different feedback depending on the person and the current standing of my life! Many share lessons learned--don't burn out, you can't be everything to all people, follow your gut... well currently I still don't know!  I'm not seeing any magical sign or arrows pointing me to the path I should take! 

I realize this is silly and that there isn't a road map of a perfect balanced life...  but boy how I wish there was! When I get too critical I think of this quote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ernest Hemingway.  Don't you feel that many quotes or life principals contradict one another? They do--there is proof below! :) 

Good things come to those who wait. 
He who hesitates is lost. 

Birds of a feather flock together. 
Opposites attract. 

Clothes make the man. 
Never judge a book by its cover.

Actions speak louder than words.
The pen is mightier than the sword. 

A silent man is a wise one. 
A man without words is a man without thoughts. 

The more, the merrier.
Two's company; three's a crowd. 

The best things in life are free. 
You get what you pay for. 

Never too old to learn. 
You can't teach an old dog new tricks.      

These are the things my mind often thinks about! I just want everything to make sense, lol. :) I'm hoping that by writing down my thoughts that things will start becoming more clear. There will be many quotes along the way as often times people articulate how I feel in a very clear and concise way.  Goal: Become more concise and more clear!

“Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal.” ― Oscar Wilde

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. 
Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” ― Steve Maraboli

“Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard."- David McCullough

Haha, Lorrie (my boss) would die laughing at the last quote! I can write my emotion all day--but to write in a professional manner stresses me out! I often over-think many things--but professional anything really boggles me. I have joked from a very young age that "I bring the personality not the professionalism." Don't get me wrong--I can be professional but that's not part of my core identity. It's funny how your self-speak plays such a large role. I tell myself who I am and what I'm "known for" which can be good and bad depending on the skill set.  This is why having people that are honest with you are good.

On this note: be careful what you ask for. I have a few people that have no hesitation of being honest but often give me the "what i need to improve on" and forget that although I want to learn and improve--that hearing constant negative feedback can take it's toll.  That's one thing I learned from Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. The importance of setting boundaries on feedback and expectations on when and how it occurs.  

Anyway--this post is going off on a million tangents.  I will try to reflect at least 1-2 times a week and see if any trends occur. Curious if I write my thoughts down more often--maybe things on paper will be more clear than in my head!

I'll close with this awesome quote I just found!

“Dare to Be...
When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.
When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.
When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.
When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.
When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.
When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.
When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.
When times are tough, dare to be tougher.
When love hurts you, dare to love again.
When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.
When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.
When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.
When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.
When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.
When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.
Dare to be the best you can –
At all times, Dare to be!” 

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Homework for thought:

Something to discuss later is the whole balance of personal and professional life. The more I focus on my community involvement the further I feel from my friends and family.  I really struggle in this area of balance and am looking forward to figuring out how to do a better job managing both aspects. I want it all. I want to live life to the fullest--giving to everyone I can. I want to be a good friend, a good employee, a good daughter, a good neighbor, a good community servant. (oh ya, and one day a good girl friend or wife, haha) Is this possible without being burnt out? Does burn out only happen when you aren't happy with your involvement in all things? Is it more about width or depth that causes burn out... things to ponder another time.


Cloudy Mind! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What a day!

The journey continues and seems to be more magical than ever. I have done a lot of reflection lately and it's quite funny to reflect back on experiences, lessons learned along the way, and realizing how life is a ride and some parts you have a say and some parts you just have to decide to enjoy the ride.

I had a unique experience today that really inspired me. I remembered I had this blog and wanted to ensure I remember this experience forever and thus here I am. Before I share--it does prompt me to think that I should reflect and write more often so I'm not constantly learning the same lesson but also to laugh at how silly I was at a prior point in life. As I am growing older... and ideally wiser, I have seen that at every stage of your life you feel like you are doing all you can and then you realize how to work smarter and not just harder and then you are able to take on even more. It's important to prioritize, reevaluate, learn, challenge the common and move forward!

So now about the day I had... 

Today was our final day of interviews for our 2013 Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award Finalists. This award was created last year in honor of Emerge Co-founder, Deanne Roberts. Deanne was a mother, founder of her company, community leader, mentor and friend. I could list all of her accomplishments, or just a few of the organizations she chaired, or even a list of the organizations she started... but honestly it would just be easier for you to just click here to see her legacy page on ChappellRoberts website! Let's just say the list is pretty powerful and those are just the big things.. not the stories that are shared by those that were touched by her in some way, big or small. I find myself being inspired by Deanne without even meeting her which I believe is the testament to a strong and impactful legacy. The stories are being shared which I think is the most one can hope for when considering the world without them in it.

The highlight of my day was hearing the stories from her peers, friends, proteges and confidants. How interesting it is that no matter what the role she played she had the same level of impact! I love that! The best statement I heard today was "surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth". Apparently that was a strength of Deanne's--telling it like she saw it I mean! "She spoke, acted, and then made sure to bring people along"... "There was always room at the table for those who wanted to be involved--no matter your age, your position or your company." ... My brain is spinning with the idea of living up to the challenge of a woman like Deanne both personally but especially as it relates to Emerge!

It's funny to think of how my "Deanne journey" started which I actually never thought about in it's entirety until right now. Shortly after I began working at the Chamber, Karen sat down with me and started talking about a conversation she had with Deanne before Deanne became really sick. Karen shared that Deanne was the founder of Emerge and then hit me with a phrase I will never forget. She said Deanne told her "You need to get Emerge back on track because the program is not what it was meant to be." I'm pretty sure I was speechless. Mind you I had never met Deanne... and at this point her health wasn't good so I couldn't be like-- "Hey, what did you mean? What is Emerge meant to be?"

Skipping a little bit forward in the journey I met Colleen Chappell. Mind you, I know that this lady Deanne worked for ChappellRoberts prior to her passing... I'm no dummy--I realized there was a connection!  
Colleen served on a panel for our Leadership Tampa Class of 2012. I remember as soon as she said her name and company I was like hmm... :) I loved everything about what I saw and heard from Colleen and always from afar! So last year, 2012, we decided that we were going to do an Emerge event in honor of Deanne, celebrating the legacy of the program as well as recognize an emerging leader in name of Deanne each year which we named the Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award. Emerge will present this award annually to one outstanding young professional for their dedication and service to Emerge Tampa Bay and the business community. 

So, if I'm being honest, I thought this was really cool but I think for a very different reason than I do today. This event wasn't my idea but I was like heck yes--we need a signature event! We need a year end celebration to honor our leadership, our accomplishments and to get people pumped for the coming year! I thought it was really nice that we were honoring Deanne but I just didn't quite see the bigger picture or really get it. As we began discussing this event I was like, I guess I should know something about this lady to determine our award criteria; understand what the event should feel like, etc... being that it was truly in honor of "Deanne Dewey Roberts". I still think it's funny that we use all 3 names. It reminds me of ADPi.. CBG, KPG, etc. 

I began googling Deanne Roberts. I found a couple of great YouTube videos, some articles and started a document on all things Deanne. I wanted to learn who is Deanne; what matters to Deanne; what legacy did she want to leave.. and how do we share that story?

From there, Andrew Smith and I met with Colleen. Yes, dream come true! Lol, looking back it's so funny because I was like.. I hope she likes me! She's soo cool. Yes, I'm a dork. We chatted with her about her vision for this event. We asked her to share stories with us about Deanne and then discussed ideal format. It was great. Andrew and I left smiling from ear to ear eager to get going on this amazing event. I then discussed with Diane Egner and Dianne Jacob as well.

Watching videos and hearing Deanne speak about her passions really helped and then complimenting that with hearing from Colleen was awesome. I was starting to get it a little more. So we had our inaugural event November 21 of 2012. It was awesome. We received great reviews and we had an amazing audience of all ages. It's unique in that way but speaks to Deanne and resembles her thought of everyone deserves a seat at the table. I hope our audience is always that dynamic. 

Well--I started this story sharing the awesomeness of today in hearing stories of Deanne in so many different capacities. No matter what the story, the message was the same.
Deanne was a connector, an influencer of change. Persistent yet patient; caring, courageous, committed, tenacious. She took every phone call. She took the time to listen and give feedback. She was founder of several organizations and just as much a champion and a cheerleader for others. She did what she loved and didn't ask for credit. She was a visionary... and she didn't take no for an answer if she believed in something enough! She was the first woman chair of the Chamber which I think is pretty BA if you ask me! Bold. Courageous. and did work! 

I legitimately was like what have I been doing and how did I miss all of these things before? I see the vision of Emerge--it's to teach our young people how to be like Deanne! Be bold. Lead Change. Speak. Act. And bring people along!

"You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end."

My immediate "take-aways"... or thoughts...

None of us know how much time we have left... is what we're doing accomplishing the goals we have for ourselves and our legacy? I have been thinking a lot about priorities. Determining what to get involved in. I have a love for growth and change and a love for helping others. That basically means I find every cause and nonprofit important and meaningful. How do I determine what to take on and when it's time to say now is not the time?

"I've learned the hard way that it's never too early to think about your legacy. And I believe it's our collective legacy as leaders to support others as they take big―and sometimes scary―leaps for our community.”--Deanne Roberts

Give back in every capacity you can. Take an extra moment to teach someone how to do something instead of just doing it for them. Say thank you to the people that are at the bottom of the totem poll in the same manner you would the CEO. Be mindful. Be grateful. Use your strengths to benefit your organization and your community. Mentor the next generation. Leave everything you touch better than you found it. Do things that matter to you. Choose things not because of the recognition but because you believe you can have a meaningful impact. 

Cheer on your peers and celebrate the successes of others. Be a cheerleader for your community. Always bring people up with you and help others find their place.

“I hope the fruits of my labor are ripe for many generations to come.”

Always remember, you never know the kind of impression you can have on someone. Consider the pay it forward method. You do something nice for someone and then they pass it on and so on. You never know where your kindness is going. Where your time will lead. Example, I want to make a difference in a life of another because I had an awesome Greek advisor who took a vested interest in me. I want to ensure I effect someones life in the same way. I think it's so cool that so many people share about Deanne so that our membership can learn who she is and why it matters. This is where my Deanne journey continues--people that I sat in the room these last two days (Christine Turner, Mike Griffin, Jon Streitmatter, Bob Rohrlack, Dianne Jacob...) all have a connection to her and I learn from these people every day. I can't even mention my love and appreciation for Colleen--yet another testament to the legacy! ..  The Legacy ... a legacy that goes well beyond the years on Earth but that effects people who don't even know you. The question I keep asking myself "Is your life worthy of talking about when you're not here? and is what people are saying what you'd want to hear?"

"When I retire I'll ask myself if I did everything I could to act with integrity, bring along young people and invest in my community. And those are the questions I hope you'll ask yourself—and I sincerely hope you're happy with the answers. Because they really do matter.” - Deanne Roberts

I should close with mentioning today is Deanne's birthday. October 31... a magical day in the journey of Deanne! Life is funny--Emerge started with her and today was a memorable one in figuring out my version of what Deanne wanted Emerge to be. We need more Deanne's in the community and in an effort to make that a reality--Emerge was born! We created an environment that promotes growth and development of our members and a platform for young professionals to get together with a collected and powerful voice. 

Well I'd say 2014 is our year! Looking forward to the journey that awaits!