Chair Chat – It’s a Must Read

From the desk of Amanda Goyer, WBC Chair and the Director of Community Engagement, CAP COM Federal Credit Union.

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Photo by Nadi Whatisdelirium on Unsplash

Navigating Through Unplanned Change

In January, the WBC kicked off our annual programming with a panel discussion surrounding change management and leading through transition. Our expert panelists provided great insight into how they have led their organizations through vast facets of change with stride. We heard about understanding the “why” behind change and how that makes the biggest impact across the organization, we talked about planning for change, growth, rebranding, new partnerships, collaborations, and integrations. What we didn’t get to speak about was unplanned change and how you navigate unchartered waters that you never thought you’d be swimming in.

My personal and professional goal for 2019 is to take risks and be unapologetically authentic. In doing so I will share a story with you that I have not shared publically. I’ll share a story of the biggest unplanned change in my life and how that has impacted me professionally. These impacts will be shared by others who have transitioned through unplanned changes but also may be relevant for those that haven’t as well.

March 13, 2016, my parents arrived at my house unannounced. My husband and I were in our kitchen feeding our 2-month-old son Roen. My parents walked in and they didn’t have to say anything, I knew right then that my brother was gone. The words they said “Al’s gone” are all I remember from that morning and seeing my baby boy Roen looking up at me with those big eyes and smile, not knowing the devastation that had just walked through the door. I try to paint the picture of that moment for a symbolic reason. As a leader, even when your world crumbles with unplanned change, what remains constant is the people looking up to you. I didn’t make the choice that day, but I eventually made the choice to pick myself up, and I’ve been living each day since with a new perspective, zest for life and a purpose that would make Al proud.

This unplanned change has made me a different person, I could have chosen to go one of two ways. I’m grateful I had the strength to choose the path I did, a path that has led to great personal and professional growth as a result of the pain my family and I endured and still carry each day.

Here’s What I Learned from Unplanned Change:

PERSPECTIVE:

Today in the workplace, I frequently find myself taking a step back to look at the big picture. I focus more on the “why” behind what I do and that provides me with great perspective on the direction I need to follow. Prior in my professional life, I use to get hung up on the details, details that did not matter. “Did my voice shake during those welcome remarks? OMG, I haven’t replied to that email from so and so in 2 weeks, surely they think I’m a failure! My baby is sick again from daycare and I’m going to miss another day of work, I’m going to get fired! I can’t tell my coworker “that”, it will hurt their feelings…” and the list goes on.

Today in my professional world, I realize that I’m not a surgeon. The work I do, although meaningful, is not life or death. One of the wisest mentors I’ve ever known once said the most insulting thing to me, “You’re not as important as you think you are.” Although I was initially insulted, it’s something that always says with me and reminds me to be more gentle to myself, a little kinder, and a little looser on the reins. I know my worth, as does my mentor so she was not trying to diminish me as a person, she was simply saying, IT WILL BE OK, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.

EMPATHY:

What I’ve found, like many people I’m sure who have lost someone or gone through something significant, health diagnosis, etc. is that many people that have not been there don’t know how to talk to you! Suddenly, you’re being avoided like the plague, people are looking at you like you just walked out of the bathroom with your dress tucked into your underwear all the time!

Through this transition, I’m proud to say I’ve become an Empathetic Leader. I lead heart first, then head. I have the ability to put myself in the shoes of others because I’ve been through something so significant and I’m still standing. I have always been driven by my heart, but honestly tried to block that and instead solely focus on data to make decisions because that was “easier” to justify. Today, I’m more proud than ever to lead with my heart first in my decision-making processes. This does not mean that I’m only driven by emotion, it simply means I understand humans, I understand when we fall when we rise and the journey in between. This wisdom gained through this transition in my life, I believe has vastly expedited my professional trajectory.

PURPOSE:

Everyone has probably heard of the term “YOLO,” and it’s true, You Only Live Once. There is nothing like loss that makes the people left behind think about their purpose in life. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I want to do and where I want to be. I feel a sense of focus and purpose. I have clear set goals in my mind for where I want to be in a year, and in five years. I’m not like some that write their goals in a journal or share them with too many others, but I can see those goals actualizing in my head when I think about them, I can see my future success because I’m purposeful with every big decision I make while allowing the little things to fade into the background. I tell my team all the time, let’s focus on the BIG ROCKS, these are what we need to move forward to make an impact, don’t get hung up on the little stuff and don’t deter from the path that leads to our purpose together. This focus enables our team to hit and exceed our goals time and again.

POWER:

I know today, there is no time left to be afraid to take risks and harness your power (hence my 2019 goal to take risks and be unapologetically authentic)! It has taken time but I’m ready after 3 years to make good on a promise I’ve made to my brother and myself. The only direction is forward, no going back, no regrets. I’ve learned in my career so far that there is power in taking risks, and risks I’ve taken in my career have led to the greatest reward. Today my inner power both personally and professionally is fueled by the constant reminder that I got through the worst time of my life, I CAN DO ANYTHING. At work, I take risks in the fact that I’m not afraid to fail, and I have great leadership that believes in me. My team and I take risks every year when we develop new programs that have never been done before, programs that have given us both great local and national recognition and awards. My point is simple, you can’t be afraid to take risks, because if you don’t you may never reach your potential. If it’s not going to harm someone, tarnish you or your company’s reputation, or bring your budget into the red, TAKE THE RISK and REAP the REWARD.

As I conclude writing this, I can say, I’m living life the way Al would have wanted me to, glass half full. I try to remember from all the bad, comes a lot of good too. This unplanned change was the worst moment of my life, yet, what I’m realizing today, nearly 3 years later is how this transition has led me on a very focused path in this journey called life, a journey that is uniquely my own.

 

 Self-Assessment Questions:

  1. PERSPECTIVE: What is one thing you are consistently holding yourself accountable for? Is that “weight” worth it?
  2. EMPATHY: In working with people, do you commonly put yourself in their shoes? If not, consider the power of being an empathetic leader. (LINK HERE: https://www.success.com/why-the-empathetic-leader-is-the-best-leader/)
  3. PURPOSE: Do you feel like your job aligns with your purpose? If not, what is the step you are going to take to realign?
  4. POWER: What is the biggest planned or unplanned challenge you ever overcame? Celebrate that, and don’t forget it. Use that moment will power you through.
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