Yesterday, I posted a wonderful, yet vaguely mysterious status on the Friend Feed:
"Single best day of my career...ever. In 12 years. Not exaggerating."
Well, I think I've kept you all on pins and needles long enough! I suppose I'll explain now.
But first...I need to take you back to last November 2011. I had recently started working in my current position with a non-profit connected with Indiana University called The Kuali Foundation. www.kuali.org
Because our business is mostly virtual (we've got people scattered all over the country and the globe), we only get to see each other face to face twice per year. Our biggest face to face is called Kuali Days and it happens in the Fall.
The day before I left for Kuali Days, I was invited to attend an all-day conference at the IU Memorial Union that was hosted by the Office of Women's Affairs. The subject was "Re-Inventing Your Career Path". Honestly, I attended because my boss was speaking in a session and...to get free food and get out of the office for a day with pay.
The keynote speaker at this event was an amazing woman named Caroline Dowd-Higgins. This woman started her career as a professional opera singer and traveled the world. But, when that wasn't working out the way she planned, she faced a difficult career transition. Caroline is now an expert on career coaching, in particular completely re-inventing your career. After a stint at the IU Career Development Center, she now helps coach students in the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She has written a book called "This Is Not The Career I Ordered" and she hosts a radio show on CBS Radio called "Career Coach Caroline".
Here's a link. Isn't she pretty??? carolinedowdhiggins.com/
Why do I go on and on about Caroline? Simple...she has changed my life. After that conference, I went immediately into Kuali Days. I was brand new to this organization, as naive and shy as you could ever imagine, not knowing a thing about our software products, let alone about the organization in general. I didn't know anyone except the girl I shared an office with! It was really scary.
But...that week, something happened. I fell in love with my team and with my organization and with my job. It was the first time I ever thought (in 11 years of working!), "This is the one. This is my forever career."
When I got back, I was SO excited to tell Caroline all about it. I sent her a message on Facebook, not expecting any sort of reply. Shockingly (to me), she replied right away. She was thrilled for me and promised to be cheering me on and available if I ever needed her help. She was so warm...so approachable and so available to help me. We became fast friends.
And, a few weeks later when one of the ladies in our office left and I took on some of her work responsiblities, I approached Caroline about how to negotiate a raise in salary. This famous woman actually took time from her busy schedule and met me for coffee. We talked about raises, professional demeanor, tips for getting noticed in large meetings. It was a breath of fresh air for me and the first time I ever began to see myself as more than just a secretary. Since then, I have held Caroline in the highest esteem and frequently refer to her as my "career guru".
Fast forward to last month. I received an invitation from Caroline to attend the first annual Midwest Invent Your Future Conference for Women. Along with this invitation came a special request to attend a VIP Reception the evening before and meet all the conference organizers and speakers. Well, let's just say...if Caroline says, "Jump", I say, "How high, honey?" So I signed up.
I didn't know what to expect at all. To be quite frank, I thought it would be your typical "Yay...go women! Be happier at work and quit complaining about your job" kind of conference. You know what I'm talking about, ladies. A happy thoughts day, dedicated to getting as much free food as you can. Right?
Well....it was NOT that. And, you know, I should have KNOWN it wouldn't be that because Caroline was on the steering committee and had really talked this thing up. I should have trusted my guru, you know?
At this point, I begin to feel a bit choked up. Because I can't quite articulate everything that went down yesterday. Let me just start by saying...the speakers that were at this event were PHENOMENAL.
I'm including a link below with all their bios (seriously, if this interests you, totally get ALL these books!) But let me just give you a sampling of these ladies' achievements:
CHARLOTTE BEERS - was Undersecretary of State to Colin Powell. Was named "the most powerful woman in advertising" and has been on the cover of Fortune and Business Week.
SAM HORN - The Intrigue Expert. Has been on NPR, MSNBC and in the New York Times, Washington Post and Readers Digest
MARY LOVERDE - Work Life Balance Expert. Has been on Opray Winfrey 4 times, inducted into the National Speakers Hall of Fame and has several best selling books
BETSY MYERS (my new idol) - Former Director of the White House Office for Women during the Clinton Administration and COO of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. SHE WAS AMAAAAAAZING!!!!
Here's the official bio link: www.inventyourfuture.com
You know what the best part was? I would say there were only a couple hundred ladies at this event. That means that all of us got to interact, talk, ask questions and spend an entire day just being real with these remarkable women. Literally...sitting there and chatting with some of the most influential and powerful women on earth!
There were breakout sessions and every single one was fabulous. Great food. Lots of amazing networking. Not only that, but I discovered a newfound DEEP appreciation for my company and their openness to smart, intelligent women - that's not the norm in IT. And my own boss...well, she's just been so incredible in supporting me and modeling for me how to succeed as a professional woman.
But here is the best part...and the reason for my enigmatic status yesterday.
Somehow, somewhere in the middle of the day yesterday...something shifted in my mind. You see, I've always had my life segmented. There has been my home/family life, my work life, my church life, my health, etc. These things sort of overlapped...but never really melted together.
Yesterday...everything came together. Suddenly, all the amazing lessons I've been learning at church and all the discipline and hard work I've put into getting healthy translated directly into how I can do my job at work and, as a result, help to further our company brand. In addition, everything I learned about "business" yesterday was directly applicable to how I care for my family and how I use the gifts that God has given me. It's like there is this giant puzzle and pieces were missing. And, yesterday, they all linked together and formed into a beautiful, perfectly flowing image.
It's the ME Puzzle. And it's put together. And I feel indescribably complete.
Ask yourself this:
What would your life feel like if you truly understood how you were made and what your passions are AND you realized how to funnel that into your everyday job?
How would it be to work hard during the day for something you believe in and then come home and have it just be a continuation of your day...full of things you love?
I don't live in a dream world. I'm sure days will suck. I mean, we ARE talking about work here. LOL. But...the potential for this is off the charts.
I'm actually still working through it all mentally, but a friend of mine really summed it up best after I'd told him all about this. He said, "This is your magic moment, Leah."
It is. Magic. I can't think of a better word for it.