What’s It Like?

I had the privilege of attending VGM Group’s leadership summit this week. In December I celebrated my two-year anniversary with the company. After being at my previous employer for nearly 11 years, it was (and actually, still is) a change and adjustment for me. I’ve always told myself that change – no matter good or bad, or no matter if it’s change you know you want or not – requires time and isn’t easy. It takes us out of our comfort zone and status quo.

Big change draws a line in the sand of your life – there is a clear “before this” and “after this.” I learned this when I was in middle school from my best friend’s mom. It was a summer where the little creek in Denver, Iowa flooded and destroyed their basement. We made fun of her at the time, but she started referring to things as “BF” and “AF” for before flood and after flood. It’s actually quite a simple, yet profound, life lesson. I have many of these in my life so far (and some of the best and worst yet to come) – before college/after college, before Colorado/after Colorado, before kids/after kids, before divorce/after divorce, before VGM/after VGM, before sicknesses/after sicknesses, before step-parenthood/after step-parenthood…you get the point. My biggest lesson through all of these has been that each before and after requires a different version of me. Each has challenged what I knew to be true and challenged all the little crap I overemphasized.

As a leader, change is one constant. I am continually challenged and excited to bring a new me to the table. Leadership resources and inspiring thought leaders make this easier. VGM truly invests in its people. This leadership summit is only one example, but the simple fact that they bring in over 200 people to learn, connect and celebrate is enough to set the company apart from others.

Coming off the great week, I don’t want to forget about what I learned. I was so inspired, yet also had this overwhelming feeling of oh my goodness, I have so much work to do! I can be so much better! This is more for myself to get on paper, however here is the recap of my main takeaways from the week:

  • You have to buy a ticket – the keynote speaker was my absolute favorite. He said with anything in life, you must buy a ticket. If you are going to make a difference and do great things, it’s not going to be without hard work, passion, blood, sweat and tears. And some laughter, too.
  • You must be present to win – this might’ve been my favorite lesson. It is so true. I am a multi-tasker. The worst is that I tell myself that I am actually good at it. There is no way I am actually effective, though, and I know this. When someone walks in my office, I need to drop everything I am doing and give them 100% of my attention. When I am home with my husband and kids, I need to stop trying to do 10 things at once and just be in the moment.
  • Know your values – it should be very easy to make decisions if you know your values and never deviate from who you are at your core. What are your non-negotiables? What do you stand for? What truth will you speak even if your voice shakes? Mine come down to faith, love, and authenticity. I need to give more grace and always make sure to just be me wherever I go or whoever I am with. Another point made by a few of the speakers was that there are most definitely people that do not like you. Ugh. I actually really hate that truth. <— That’s the real me. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. But it’s inevitable so all I can do is stay true to my values, be me, and forget the rest.
  • Ask “What’s it like?” I asked my kids this right away. “What’s it like to be my daughter?” “What’s it like to be my son?” This is a vulnerable question. I want to ask a version of it to many other people in my life. My kids gave some great answers – both sweet and truthful. It also made me think about the answers I want to hear. How do I want my co-workers to answer? How do I want my husband to answer?!

I know I am at an amazing place two years in or 11 years in. And I am very thankful. I also have my family counting on me. So. Here’s to giving it my absolute all in 2020 in all aspects of my life!

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