Yeah, the cartoon doesn’t match the tone of the post – that is the point. You may hear some mixed messages out there in the world… or you might just hear one message, one view of how the world is or what is possible. Spoiler alert: there isn’t just ONE way of being. There isn’t just ONE possibility. There are lots of possibilities out there – some that you may like and some you may not. Some that are aligned with your values and that feel authentic to you, and some that don’t. Sometimes it isn’t that clear – sometimes it is a mixed bag. That’s where things get fun, and by “fun,” of course, I mean I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and browsing Amazon for books on Practical Ethics (Peter Singer’s book is fantastic by the way). Anyhoo… guideposts… they are very helpful. 🙂
Original Post Date: September 2, 2017
I like to dress in layers – a t-shirt and a long sleeve shirt. It helps with my natural tendency to feel cooler than other people, and lately it has come in handy with my tendency to, from time to time, feel as if I am about to burst into flames (thanks 40s!). Oftentimes the t-shirt that I wear is something fun or joyful to me, my personal way of expressing myself while remaining professional throughout the day. The other day I wore my Duke Women’s Initiative T-shirt and noticed I started my day feeling a little brighter.
I worked a little bit on that project – did some geeky statistics stuff – but it was really light support work for the primary players. When the final report came out my boss mentioned me in it. I was surprised and honored and felt truly appreciated. I also felt like my contribution mattered. I had just done some calculations and written a couple of explanations, it didn’t feel like much of anything to me, but she not only appreciated it, she *publicly* appreciated it. She took the step of saying to her peers – the big people – “hey, let’s mention her.” That’s being a leader – that’s empowering others – and that is putting your money where your mouth is – not just writing about a Women’s Initiative, but living it out. I am truly grateful for that.
I remember during my first meeting with her (as my boss in general, not on the Women’s Initiative specifically), she was talking and I was diligently taking notes. She stopped me and asked me to just listen… I was truly concerned and confused. I told her that I was listening, and she said “No, don’t write anything down, just listen.” That’s when I set down my pen and tried to maintain a professional face while managing my internal panic. How was I supposed to be a good employee if I couldn’t take my notes? What if I missed something critical? What if I screwed something up? I mean we are talking tasks here!! She worked with me as a young and new manager who wanted to do right and to do well and helped me learn to set my pen down and listen… and she helped me take my first panicked steps through that process. I appreciate the patience she showed with me. I appreciate the fact that she saw that I was trying to do good and trying to do well, and that I was genuinely struggling with a new method of moving. I appreciate that she was frustrated and she showed grace and kindness with a young employee. And I appreciate that after all that she actively sought to recognize and highlight my contributions, even when I didn’t fully recognize them myself.
If you are ever looking for ways to do good in this world or fulfill your authentic purpose, think back to times you have felt good in the past and think of the people and environments who were around you at the time. Think of how those people and environments helped build you up and what part of that you keep with you today. Think of all of that and you will know exactly how you can do good in the world. I feel fortunate for the people who have helped me in my life: friends, mentors, loved ones; they have helped me become the person I am today and helped guide me towards my purpose.