There are so many articles being published of late that speak to the “top things successful people do.” I find these a useful reference mostly, but when I really think about the things I need to do, the behaviors I want to instill, or the steps I must take to make myself a better person, I turn to those I have admired most—my female role models.
As a woman, I tend to look to other women as my role models. There are many that I have looked up to over my lifetime, and that net continues to widen as years progress. Those that inspired me early on include a host of well-known people like Katherine Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Amelia Earhart, Gloria, Steinem, Mary Tyler-Moore, Marlo Thomas, and comedians like Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Lucille Ball, and Gilda Radner. Later came people like Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Maria Shriver, Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington, Jill Abramson, Melissa McCarthy, Lisa Kudrow, and so many more. All are women who showed passion, enthusiasm, intelligence, wit, humor, positivity, tenacity, and fearlessness—all traits I deeply admire—and they built amazing lives for themselves.
Fall is my favorite time of the year, for many reasons. One, in particular, involves heading back to school. As the youngest of ten kids, everything I had was a hand-me-down, with the exception of new school supplies. Crisp and clean white pages of a new notebook, never touched crayons exploding with color, a shiny set of pens and freshly sharpened pencils, a full bottle of glue with no messy residue around the tip yet, and a fun new school bag with which to carry it all around. Pristine supplies, the crisp fall air, and the sense of new possibilities cultivated a visceral response and general eagerness enticing me back to the pursuit of a formal education.
As adults, we don’t necessarily have the same right of passage as the start of a new school year. And most of us don’t have a structure or discipline for expanding our professional development, particularly as we become more seasoned pros. Yet that’s exactly what many of us need to provide a fresh lens to the work we do.
With the start of a new school year, I challenge you to build your own professional development plan to support your career growth, and maybe expand outside of it as well.
We all get to a point in our careers where we need a break from the day-to-day. We’re running a hundred miles an hour on one project trying to finish on time, only to be immediately tapped for the next one. Often times we are running several projects at the same time with no break in between to simply catch our breath.
While the work can be exciting and engaging, we get to a point where we’re running on empty if we don’t take necessary steps to recharge so we can bring our A-game to the next project. Sometimes we simply require a day or two off, other times we may need to schedule that long overdue vacation, and every so often it might be something more.
I loved working in my last position. I was lucky enough to work with incredibly smart people from all over the world. My boss was fantastic and my colleagues were wonderful. We had great fun as we explored new territory. If we were exhausted or frustrated, we commiserated and bounced back together as a team. Creativity flowed along with great humor. For me, however, I did finally reach a point where I knew it was time to move forward. But first I needed to take a pause – to rejuvenate and reenergize before eventually try something different in a new environment.