Riding home from Luke’s game last night with my friend and volleyball partner, we got to talking about volleyball, and aging knees and how long we will get to play this game that we love to play so much. To be out on that beach, with dolphins jumping in the water, with other moms that have at least a dozen kids between us, it’s a feeling that is pretty hard to beat. It’s hard to imagine it not happening every week..multiple times..
“Do you ever have that thought, when you watch the pros playing next to us, ‘I’m never going to do that’? And it makes you feel kind of shocked.” Vanessa asked me.
“Yes.” I answered immediately, because I have had that feeling. “I call it the ‘I’m never going to win Wimbledon’ phenomenon.”
I coined this phrase many years ago, it’s not necessarily a sad feeling, I actually noticed it because I was trying to find my own thing…what it was that filled me up, my why…and, besides being a mom, I knew I hadn’t found it yet. In this search, I realized that as much as I loved sports and watching Wimbledon, I was never going to hoist that shiny trophy over my head, so I crossed it off the list and kept seeking, with the realization that I was looking for a level of greatness in my own right. I think this feeling is natural for passionate people to have as we observe our own lives, and realize how much we enjoy them, and how quickly time passes.
Every week I get a take away that sticks with me from one of the many podcasts I listen to. This week’s comes from Impact Theory’s interview with best selling author, Mark Manson. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
One concept that I found intriguing in this interview was how figuring out our why, our calling, or whatever you would like to call it, isn’t always easy because it comes naturally to us. We don’t recognize it because it’s just normal. We enjoy it so much, we get lost, and logging time towards our progress isn’t a conscious thought, we just flow. Now I get it, because when I’m writing or speaking to the next generation about the lessons I have learned, time just slips away.
This week, I was fortunate to speak to a group of female athletes in Fresno, my hometown. We talked about leadership, some of the challenges we face as female leaders, and what qualities are most important for us to have if we want to lead. If you would have said to me five years ago that I would be seeking out speaking opportunities I would have said you’re crazy. What I have come to understand though, is that generational wisdom, imparting the lessons I have learned through my experience to girls, who on one hand I still feel so much like it brings tears to my eyes, but then quickly realize all I have learned over this quick 44 years of life, it just flows. I could have talked for hours. After the event, to have one of my early mentors, a coach who taught my timid, soft hearted self, to be tough, tell me that people lean in and want to hear what I have to say, I’m humbled…and I’m hooked…because while not everyone’s opinion matters, there are a trusted few, people who have earned the right to weigh in, who mean a lot to my progress.
Although there are so many qualities that are important for a leader to possess, I am big on the concept that as leaders, we need to be self aware. Knowing ourselves, taking time to reflect, so that we know our strengths and weaknesses, when to listen to our own voice, and when to defer to another trusted voice that can possibly teach us more, all of these things are part of being effective as a leader. Self awareness also helps us discover our why.
The cool thing is that this world is in need of so many different whys, different missions, we don’t all have to solve every challenge that is out there, but a good life is definitely spent working on at least one of them. We need to know ourselves to know where our assets can best be put to use…and then we can lead.
As a female leader, I talked about the burden that women carry, the expectation that we can do it all, balance domestic and professional life, while staying in shape, making home cooked healthy meals, and emotionally supporting every family member, friend, child, and even animal in our life. That expectation can overwhelm and exhaust us, and I know that firsthand.
“You can have it all, just not all at once.” -Oprah Winfrey
These are wise words that teach us there is a season and a time for everything. When I was 27 and giving two babies dinner and baths every night, before my next two were even born, and my sister was working on Capitol Hill, I wondered what I could ever accomplish outside my four walls, not realizing that the answer was coming on a schedule that allowed me to immerse myself in the task at hand, being the mom of four amazing babies…all in good time. Today, I realize what a gift that was.
Enjoy where you are right now, do the job in front of you well, and the way forward presents itself.
What I also didn’t know at that time was that, more important than any book or article I read, the voice in my head was the loudest and most convincing voice out there. That voice is so influential, it shapes our thinking, and then our path. It tells us what is possible, what we can and can’t do, and for a long time I realize that my voice told me that there were certain things and levels of success that were reserved for a chosen few. What I thought was humility, was really insecurity and a fear of claiming what was available to me, and to anyone really willing to work consistently hard enough to claim it. So, I looked out at these hopeful young athletes, and told them about that voice.
“Make sure that voice, the one in your head, is your biggest fan, best coach and most loving mom all in one.”
It’s yours for the taking, it might not be Wimbledon, but it’s great and it’s meant to be shared with the world. We’re counting on you.