I can't tell you how many times I have daydreamed about buying multiple copies of "my" books and delivering them to the women in my life.
Sometimes the books are tied together with twine, sometimes they arrive in a box, but in every imagined scene they elicit a curious smile as she picks up the book on top and scans the jacket. I can picture her settling in to read, maybe even grabbing her journal, and my heart swells as I sense her moving down her own path to self-discovery, wherever she is on her journey.
While I call the books mine, I didn't write them. They are mine because they so neatly summarize a chapter of my own journey to self confidence, creativity, and fulfillment. I understand intuitively that each woman will connect very differently with my books, or maybe not at all. What has resonated with me may not hold meaning for another. Still I feel called to share, to facilitate a transformative process for other women so each can find her own confidence and creativity, or whatever else she may be searching for.
Books were an escape for me growing up. The shift to using books and writing for self-reflection didn't come until I was an adult with kids of my own and became intrigued by the big topic of leadership.
At the time I had a busy job and two young kids, so the fact that I started devouring books on leadership was a testament to the excitement and passion I was feeling. For the first time in my life, I was often reading multiple books at once, and sometimes not finishing a book when I felt I had gotten what I needed.
A few years later, the only female executive at a growing firm, I needed insight into the leadership challenges faced by women. That is how, one weekend in the fall, I found myself sitting in the bookstore poring over leadership books for women. I came home with a stack of books, and started with How Women Lead by Sharon Hadary and Laura Henderson.
If you work as a stay-at-home mom or in some other role outside corporate America, you may be thinking that what I learned from How Women Lead won't apply to you. Please keep reading.
I looked back at my journal from when I was reading Hadary and Henderson's book, and the first thing I wrote down was, "Identify the boundaries holding you back." That statement is followed by five lists--how I see myself, how I think others see me, my values, my passions, and my strengths and weaknesses--all of which have helped me define success on my terms and create my own path.
Staying confidently true to who I am is an iterative process that will ebb and flow, which is why re-reading my journal musings has been critical for me. Whether you are a leader at work, at home, in your community, or all of the above, knowing yourself is an important step towards defining and achieving your goals.
My journey didn't start with books and it won't end there. I have also had supportive conversations with family and friends, felt the encouragement of an amazing therapist, gotten advice from accomplished mentors and peers, and attended training sessions and networked with exceptionally smart professionals. I have found inspiration through running, meaning in music, and I have tried and failed, and tried again. In writing, I have found my voice.
As mythologist and author Joseph Campbell said, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." I am getting there. How about you?