“Accept yourself as you are. Know that this beautiful mosaic of ‘you’ is made of all the experiences you have.”
Executive Master in Change 2019
On the veneer
One of the biggest barriers I have had to overcome is the ‘veneer’ we often cover ourselves in, in an attempt to appear a certain way, to adapt or to assimilate. In my case, an effort to make sure I look, act and talk the part of my environment, rather than being my authentic self.
The veneer attempts to cover many things, all of those things that we worry might set us apart from a group, which makes us feel insecure, and that we do not belong.
In my younger years as a woman in business, I found myself trying to assimilate or adopt styles that I saw around me – rather than growing into my own.
On being your authentic self
One of the belief systems I have heard in my life is the importance of ‘fitting in’. I think women tend to suffer this on a different level, particularly when they find themselves in an industry where people look very different from themselves.
While I agree with the principle of being harmonious with your ecosystem, I think this is often mistaken with the need to be in utter compliance and in the process, you can lose your authentic self.
This can be particularly dangerous in situations where you feel at odds with your core values.
Another thing I have seen is that leaders need to appear strong and directive and showing vulnerability can undermine that.
I credit my time on the Executive Master in Change (EMC) programme for allowing me to understand and appreciate the sheer power and freedom of being vulnerable.
To the contrary of what you might believe, you can actually build confidence amongst those around you when you are strong enough to admit that you do not have all the answers.
Being vulnerable allows us to be seen as a ‘whole’, rather than spending energy and time trying to hide or cover up areas of ourselves.
My evolution has meant that I have learned that truly ‘fitting in’ means being in an ecosystem where it is safe and valued to stand up and sometimes stand out.
I not only seek environments that appreciate the diversity (at all levels) of those within it, but I try very hard to foster that same spirit in my company. In my experience, learning to find one’s voice, to accept one’s style, and to buck up when ‘fitting in’ does not serve the larger cause, is truly a part of healthy leadership development.
On the meaning of Limitless
Being limitless means reminding yourself of the very precious right of self-actualisation, which we all have. Seeking people, places, things and experiences that keep you constantly growing, constantly expanding. It means continually challenging those obstacles and barriers around you – the highest of which you may have placed yourself.
Being limitless means, every day, pushing even just a millimeter past where you were yesterday.
I would describe The Executive Master in Change (EMC) programme as intellectually challenging and profound, with a fabulous cohort.
At a time when I wanted to make some changes in my own career and profession, the programme really grounded me not only with myself and how I approach things, but also with my business and what potentially would be my next business.
It helped to surface some of the deep questions and thoughts I needed to go through.
The concept of reflective space where you really take a moment to think about what you’re going to do, your actions and the associations of your experience, as well as learning about different leadership styles and what’s appropriate when managing a team have been some of the key elements of the programme I’ve incorporated within my professional endeavors.