I spoke last month at an International Women’s Day event about every day leadership. I was so excited and honored to speak on this topic because I am all about empowering ALL women to be leaders in their own lives… No matter what their education, background and experience. I hear from WAY too many women that they aren’t leaders because they don’t have the education, background, confidence, etc. So being asked to speak on this topic was a gift.
I started my presentation by asking the crowd by a show of hands, how many in the audience would call themselves a leader. I wish I could say that I was surprised to see only half the room put up their hands, but I was sadly not surprised. I asked for volunteers to explain why they didn’t put up their hands, and I got the same answers that I spent years convincing myself to be true:
These excuses became my norm for YEARS! I never thought I was good enough, or had enough time or money to invest in being a leader. Then, one morning I woke up (and that’s a whole other story) and realized that I was wasting my life feeling sorry for myself and hiding the gifts that I have to offer the world… and I did just that! I shared my story to a room full of amazing women leaders!
If at some point in your life you’ve helped at least one person, you’re a leader!
If at some point in your life you’ve given someone an opportunity, you’re a leader!
If at some point in your life you’ve made a difference in just one person’s life, you’re a leader.
Society has created this belief that in order to be a leader, you must be educated with a high level education, have perceived influence, be insanely busy and hold top seats at the table…. and this is simply not true! Don’t get me wrong, having these things are helpful to a certain degree, but I can tell you that some of the most educated people that I know aren’t even close to being leaders (they may think they are, but are they really)?
My ultimate goal in life was to be a leader. I mapped out my journey, set my goals and had my eyes on the prize… and I worked my butt off for years!! I made my way through the ranks in my career while I jumped on the “busy” bandwagon (because leadership is all about filling our schedules with things that make us feel important, right)? My eyes never left the prize…even through a divorce, being a single mom, going back to school to do my master’s degree (because every great leader needs at least a master’s degree right). I did it! I met EVERY one of my goals…. and I was completely exhausted!!! Don’t get me wrong, I worked REALLY hard and learned so much about myself along the way… and I wouldn’t change a thing! To meet my specific goals, I did need a master’s degree and I did need community experience, but having those things didn’t necessarily make me a leader!
The world is crying out for leaders in every facet of life: families, boards, committees, schools, and neighborhoods. You CAN be a leader where you are RIGHT NOW! Just by having compassion, a positive outlook on life, a sense of community, being present for yourself and others, and just being you makes you a leader. The drive to learn and continually develop yourself is also a top trait of great leader…and this all can cost you absolutely nothing but some time and commitment.
You don’t need a master’s degree, you don’t need the highest career level, but you do need to show up as YOU, and if YOU is a positive, caring force that can change just one person’s day, then you my friend are a leader!