Spotlight on Success – Leadership for Women
Lynda Throop, Artist & Designer
When I started my LMI Leadership for Women group, I was peering over the edge of an empty nest and looking a long way down. Just a few months before, my husband and I were busy launching boys out into the world when we suddenly found ourselves following an opportunity that brought us to Fredericton from Barrie, Ontario.
Before I came to New Brunswick, I was dabbling in a few different creative ventures but not committed to any one area. With a family at home, it seemed a reasonable to me that I could earn a small income doing a few different types of projects but not take anything too seriously. After all, there were people who needed me. I found my value as a wife and mom. I thought that I was prepared for when they left with my hobbies and part time work, but in reality I was just letting days and months roll into each other without any sort of plan at all.
Moving to a different province and leaving behind the security of friends and family pushed me to a breaking point. When Kathy Watt offered to help me get my resume in order to find a job, I knew that I had been fooling myself. There was nothing really to put on it!
The first meeting of our group was terrifying. I pictured well dressed, manicured and highly coiffed women carrying blackberry’s and briefcases. I was so wrong. They were women, just like me. We were all facing a fork in the road having come to a place where we could no longer move forward in life and careers without making some major decisions. Problem was, none of us knew what was needed to make those decisions.
I didn’t have a full time job or career that I was tracking so I pulled a business goal out of the air doing something I knew how to do and making some money at it – after all, isn’t that what a career is based on? Setting a business goal that first day was the start of a year long process to understand what I wanted, what I needed and what I valued. Oil painting is something I have been doing for the last five years or so. It seemed natural to chose that as a business goal. But what I learned was that making money from what I love to do wasn’t something that would motivate me, in fact, I felt so much pressure that I lost my joy of painting.
Lessons, group discussions as well as having a mentor gave me the support that I needed to see how I was leading my life from a whole new perspective. After all, how can you think about leading others if you don’t even know where you are going yourself!
Some lessons were hard but having the support of the group was invaluable. And of course there is the big black book that tracks my movements and keeps me from going off the rails! The great “ah ha” moments were the best. Weeks of taking it in but feeling like you were learning but not really “getting it”. Then suddenly, the pieces start to come together and the picture is clearer. For each of us it came at a different time or lesson. For me it was discovering what I valued most and setting priorities for my endeavours. Just because I can do something, didn’t mean I had to do it. Just because I hadn’t done something, didn’t mean I couldn’t! With a clear plan, goal setting, and tracking – nothing seems really impossible.
I have learned that you will never be able to make yourself heard, known or understood if you don’t know who you are, what your dreams are or what you value. If you don’t have a goal, are not prepared, motivated, or organized, nor affirmed about direction in your own heart, rather than depending on others – You will never get past your own front door. With personal leadership skills, I can choose the destination for my ventures. Leadership training is a backpack full of provisions that helps me take the road that is right for me and helps me enjoy the complete journey, not just the end result.