A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to attend the Women in Leadership Luncheon at the University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia Community College. Jennifer Olsen, the President of Resourceful HR, was asked to present as the keynote speaker that afternoon and asked me to attend the event with her. At the time, I mostly thought of the luncheon as an “on the job” task and never imagined that the experience would have an impact on how I view my own professional career.
For most of my young adult life, I knew that I had to graduate from college and find a great job with a well-recognized company. When I landed my first job after completing my undergraduate degree, I was overcome with relief in knowing that I had succeeded in life because I had gotten my “dream job.” This great sense of accomplishment diminished within the first year of my professional career and I was increasingly feeling a lack of connection with my job and the people who I worked with. At the time, I felt like I was working a job that I had not even applied for and I felt like the training and direction I was receiving was mediocre at best. Now, I realize that ultimately, it was a difference of expectations that created the gap between myself and my previous employer. After I listened to Jennifer’s speech, it dawned on me that when it comes to plans, it is almost impossible to stick to your original ones without revisions. Not only do your wants and needs change but how you meet your goals and overcome your challenges will too.
In those 60 minutes, I learned so much more about this face of the company…much more than I had learned working side-by-side with Jennifer. She stated “you don’t have to write the ending before taking the first step towards the ending you want. You just have to have enough figured out to give it a go and be prepared to pivot if things start to turn towards the unexpected.”
After Jennifer completed her speech, I realized I wrote down a few takeaways from the expedition her story took me on and here they are:
- “Embrace your flaws and more quickly let go of dead visions of what [you] thought [you] wanted that can clutter [your] path.”
- Just because you went off your plan, doesn’t mean you failed it.
- “Real success is a process; a series of small steps with help from many wonderful people.”
- “Leave room for the unexpected as sometimes those experiences turn out to be richer than what was originally planned.”
Jennifer made me realize that “ultimate success comes from achieving lots of short-term, manageable wins that over time result in huge outcomes instead of focusing on big finish lines and self-imposed, arbitrary deadlines.” She showed me that no matter who you are in life, to have pride in your journey because that is what humanizes us. The path Jennifer took had bumps in it that were not a part of her plan, but she embraces those hiccups and is a better President and leader because of it.