What I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago

OK…maybe 15 or 20, but I’ll try not to age myself.

When I started my journey as a leader, I remember the angst I felt every time something “major” occurred. I’d get that knot in my stomach and feel like I was expected to fix it and fix it now.

I’m guessing that most newer leaders go through that in our desire to prove ourselves to ourselves, and to others. Perfectly normal and most likely a piece of what motivates us to succeed.

As the journey and my own development advances, I have found that “ughhh” feeling to subside over the years. Not the desire to find resolution, but the stress that comes with thinking it has to be me and it has to be right now.

The reality is that in the gap from past to present, I have learned that most “big and urgent” concerns or challenges get resolved, and by engaging others in the remedy, we not only grow as a leader, but enable others the opportunity to do so as well. I have also learned that what seems like a crisis, usually isn’t if you just give it a little time and remember to breathe. More importantly, if we give ourselves, and others, a bit of time to assess, the solution will likely be more sustainable and appropriate. If you don’t get it right, it’s OK. Chances are the world won’t fall apart. Own it, embrace it, and keep going.

10 years ago (or more) I didn’t necessarily understand the full benefit of the “pause”…the little bit of time I needed to take to get the full picture, engage others and prepare myself.

So, what I wish I knew then isn’t the answer to all things or the strengthened confidence that eventually comes with experience and reflection. What I wish I knew was that everything works out as and when it should, and that when you are “in it” you learn and prepare for the next thing. Don’t forget to pause and to utilize the resources at your disposal and never be afraid or too proud to ask for insight or help. Surround yourself with those who can give you that.

Susan is an experienced CEO, Board Director, and a member of the Leaders Forums Executive team. She is also a member of The President’s Circle. Her mantra is “Break those glass ceilings and make it matter”.