Life has a way of keeping career professionals (especially us females) buried and it’s quite hard to break this vicious cycle at times. It forces us to take an intentional approach to stepping back and booking some downtime or as I like to say “taking it down a notch”. Believe me when I tell you that this is absolutely necessary to allow yourself to refuel and reenergize.
Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I must admit it was the first time in a long time that I did not feel the need to down play my role and success and allowed myself to truly embrace and promote my status as a female business leader. I was surrounded by a group of strong, fierce, determined, charismatic, dynamic, “badass” leaders at the HERSTORY forum. We had the honor and extreme pleasure of a panel that collectively represented years of knowledge, experience, business smarts, wisdom and overall intelligence. From our very own Prime Minister, Mia Amor Motley and Hon. Kamla Persaud-Bissessar, first female Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago to our Director of Public Prosecutions – Donna Babb-Agard, Dr Shirley Hanomo-Jhagroo, a leading medical practitioner and President of Ross University and our High Commission of Canada to Barbados. These ladies are what I consider to be the real “Power House”, fighters and leaders in their own right and all damn comfortable in their own skin. I enjoyed ever moment of it!
Every single word spoken by these ladies I could relate to and somehow they managed to cause me to feel a strong sense of pride and admiration; not just for them but for myself. I felt for the first time like “I belonged there”. I didn’t feel the need to suppress my title nor my accomplishments. I felt like I too could be someday up there sharing my personal story.
It’s funny how some of the leaders spoke about their upbringing and their focus on breaking the cycle of poverty through education. This literally gave me goosebumps….as the first University graduate in my family, I can totally relate to the feeling that comes with breaking this cycle. My drive and determination which labelled me all sorts of names (up to this day) have created such a path that my daughter Amyah, doesn’t even wonder about going to University…she just knows she’s going (furthermore, she knows which one she wants to attend)!
Another common theme was the family support system needed to pursue your dreams. Again, this touched me in such a way that I found myself choking up as I saw the President of Ross University pointing at her mum and six year old daughter who sat there so quietly and unassuming in the audience. I could just feel the pride of a mom, my mum beaming at me. Truthfully, I doubt my mum’s pride could equate to my gratitude to her for always being there for me over the years, and now for my family. She is my biggest fan and was always a true believer that I was destined to succeed. What little she had was invested in me and she chose to do without. If that’s not unconditional love, I dont know what is.
The other key message that stood out for me was the need to have passion! One leader said if you’re not passionate about it, don’t even bother. Some presenters shared how they changed course a few times until they found that “thing” that they were passionate about. Being in the presence of these ladies was absolutely timely for me. I was at an emotional crossroads as I feel like I am about to embark on a new professional journey. My title has not changed but the expectations of me and my role sure have evolved. The Board has introduced a new Board specifically for my business unit and I have pledged my commitment to deliver. I believe it was Richard Branson that said…
“If someone offers you an opportunity, say thank you first and then go and figure it out”.
This is me today….stepping up to the plate because I recognize and accept that I have what it takes to succeed and I will not allow fear to hamper my progress. Why was I even doubting myself in the first place? Makes me wonder now where does this underlying fear come from at times. I know I am a strong lady with the intellect to figure it out, while navigating my team through a shared vision. I have always delivered proven results so fear has no place in my brain space. Being in the presence of these ladies reminded me of just that!
I have the passion and the drive and a few amazing supporters, including God Almighty and that’s all I really need. So I press on….I will remain focus and push ahead, ensuring that I am always prepared. My race, age, gender nor fashion style does not matter…..I belong in any room that I choose to be a part of my journey. These ladies have been knocking down walls for years and now it’s my time to join the party!
And I will do just that….