Everyone loves a good story, right? Here’s mine.
I was born and raised in metro Detroit. I am the older sister, the oldest cousin on one side and one of the oldest on the other. Both sides of my family are big, loving, noisy, and Polish. I now live in Asheville, NC with my husband and two dogs, Calvin and Violet. My stepdaughter lives a couple hours north in Boone where she attends college. My sister lives in California and entertains me from afar with her brilliant social media presence and witty text messages. My mom recently moved down here from Michigan and is enjoying retired life in her newly built, custom home. My dad likes to keep us all guessing on his exact whereabouts, but those are his boundaries and that’s how he rolls. All things considered; my life is great. I have amazing friends, a loving family, and a career I adore.
I’ve been in formal and informal positions of leadership for most of my life. Being the older sister and oldest cousin sets you up to be the one in charge, whether you want to be or not. I learned early on that my voice carries, even when whispering, that I’m not afraid to jump into a heated argument, and that my penchant for “giving people the business”, as my dad would say, can get me in trouble. I learned these things growing up in a household that was, at times, chaotic and unstable. I learned how to read a situation quickly, how to adapt in an ever-changing environment and how and when to speak up. I learned at a young age, that how and why you say something makes all the difference in the world.
Let me tell you guys, sitting down to type out something titled “my story” is rather daunting. How often do you sit around and really think about your life path, personality traits, challenges, successes? For me, the answer is not very often. Originally, I typed out a whole bunch of crap about the jobs I’ve had, the schools I’ve attended, the obstacles I’ve overcome, but that seemed boring. I deleted it all. Instead, I want to discuss a couple trends that have significantly impacted my life: risk taking and optimism.
I’m a strategic and optimistic risk taker with high self-efficacy. I often say I like a good challenge, and it’s true. Life would probably be easier if I didn’t, if I could get and stay comfy, but I just don’t. I set goals, achieve them, then set more. I help others set goals, achieve them, then set more. It’s very much a part of who I am. Of course, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I’ve taken risks that were some pretty big errors, had some humiliating experiences and learned a lot of lessons the hard way. But I keep getting back up and going on.
I’m not naturally extraordinarily gifted at much, really. I make up for my lack of innate genius by being focused and goal oriented, particularly when it comes to professional and self-development. Don’t get me wrong, I am accomplished and very good at many things, but it’s only through intentional effort, awareness and putting myself in situations that are uncomfortable that I’ve gained these skills. I’m a good public speaker. Know why? I make myself do it often enough that it isn’t too scary anymore. I once ran a marathon even though I suck at running. I sucked the entire 26.2 miles, but I finished because I wanted to do it. I’ve moved across the country for job opportunities, my dream post-grad internship and love. I turned down a job at the most famous and prestigious medical center in the world because they wouldn’t pay me what I knew I deserved, and I’ve never regretted it. I don’t back away from fear and discomfort, even when the final outcome is unknown.
If you think I am naïve or sheltered, you are wrong. I am persistent, passionate, and adaptable. I am also privileged, and I take the responsibility that comes with privilege seriously. Not everyone has had opportunities I’ve had, and I make damn sure not to take that for granted. I have the ability to stand on the front lines of sexism and take a few more hits than others, because I’m not pecked to death by the ducks of microaggressions on an hourly basis.
My parents had a sign hanging in our house growing up that read, “raising children is like getting pecked to death by ducks”, and I think that is as poetic and true as it is dramatic.
I’m not worried about seeming overly optimistic in a world that appears to be increasingly divided. My faith in everyone’s ability to grow and learn is what motivates me to run this business, coach my clients, go for that promotion, risk my current comfort for future dreams, etc. It’s what motivates me to do anything, really. To have and fully believe in a growth mindset is at the core of who I am. A growth mindset allows me to fight for what I want and what I believe to be right, even in the midst of chaos and instability, because I know things are never helpless. A growth mindset allows me to always count myself in. I have a strong and long-standing desire to help other women develop a growth mindset, get ahead in their careers, achieve their goals and count themselves in. That desire, combined with an unwavering faith in the power of communication, trust in myself and my abilities, and most importantly, a bullet proof belief that the world will be a better, more just place with more women in formal positions of leadership and power, is why I do what I do.
That is my story.