Sept ’11: Accenture’s Women Leadership Forum
In September, I had the opportunity to speak at Accenture’s Women’s Leadership Forum, in Menlo Park, California. The subject was re-invention, something I know a little bit about, lol. While I normally hate talking about myself (I’d much prefer to share the cool research I’m unearthing) it was really fun to talk about the journey and lessons learned in following my path thus far. The women in the room were just amazing. Women from all walks of life who had accomplished great things in their career were coming together to share what they had learned from their own journeys. I love conferences where I learn so much that I leave feeling inspired and full of ideas.
Here is some of what I shared:
Be True to Your Own North
My father, a very wise man (@nabilharfoush) once told me that your heart is like a compass. It might not necessarily know the end destination, but it ALWAYS knows if you’re going in the right direction. “If you start feeling that unhappiness in your gut, that’s a sign that you’ve moved away from your own “North,” that you’re going in the wrong direction,” he said to me so long ago. “If that happens you just need to readjust what you’re doing until it feels right again.” I’ve carried those words around with me ever since.
Follow the Fear
I get this special feeling when I’m doing what I love. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I get really excited and I’ve always followed that feeling even if it means jumping off into the unknown. That feeling has led me to my biggest milestones: moving to Chicago to work on a Presidential campaign, writing a book, speaking in front of an audience, moving to Switzerland, etc. I was petrified at each one of those decision points, but that feeling gave me the courage (or blind faith) to jump and hope for the best. Each time it’s been right.
I think if you’re not doing something that scares you, you’re not challenging yourself. Right now, my biggest fear is the book. Writing is such an exposing, gut-wrenching experience and the fact that I just love it so much makes me think that I need some type of psychiatric help, lol. I’ve always been a writer, I have this never ending compulsion to jot things down on paper no matter where I am or what I’m doing. It’s scary, but I’m muddling through. 🙂
Words with Intent
I’m a big believer that the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. So if you want to make a plan the first think you need to do is move that dream into reality. One of the easiest ways is to speak as though it is already happening. For example, before I even had an idea of what ArchiTech (the book) was going to be about, I was thinking that I want to start writing in July. When people asked me what my summer plans were, I would reply “I’m going to be writing my second book in July.” For some reason, this really works, and it prodded me to take a bunch of steps and a few months later, there I was!
Plan in Small Steps
Finally, I’m a big fan of plans. The trick for me is to make the steps small enough that you accumulate little victories so frequently you don’t even notice you’re tackling the big things! This has helped me in everything from writing a chapter to running 5k. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to start off with a bang. You’ll tell yourself you’re going to write 10,000 words a day! Every day! Even on the weekends! Then you’ll fail. (At least if you’re me.) I’ve learned my lesson and now I start off small and work diligently towards a goal.
I had such a wonderful time in California. Jesse and were able to spend a few days relaxing at the gorgeous Rosewood Sand Hill Resort and Spa and then spending a weekend in San Francisco with friends where we day-tripped to Napa. It was so much fun! (You can see some of my pics over on my tumblr.)