A few days ago, I attended a Women in Leadership conference held by Murdock. I wasn't too excited to go at first; after all, I'm not a woman in leadership, I'm a girl looking trying to figure out my place in this world. I was pleasantly suprised by how much I enjoyed the two-day event. The main speaker, Gail, is a 55-year-old woman who was just laid off from being a Young Life director for over 20 years. I met many other women who are in a similar situation having been in leadership positions for years and are now facing a blurry future. After hearing their stories, I truly felt for these women, but knowing that other (older) women are in the same boat as me somehow gives me a new perspective.
The theme of the conference was "Emerging Leaders", so the women talked a lot about the younger generation (aka me). The first night, Gail threw out the question "What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting off as a leader?" I quickly pulled out my pen and paper and started taking notes of these valuable pieces of advice. Here are some things they said:
- you don't have to be great at everything
- there are a lot of different ways to do the same job
- it is really important to have a mentor
- being a leader is lonely
- nothing is more important than your spiritual life
- take time to recognize that each of us has different strengths
- know yourself and understand what makes you unique
- don't feel that its selfish to take care of yourself
- focus on people and relationships
- be courageous as a young leader, speak the truth
- don't feel that you have to have a plan, just be available and faithful
Gail also spoke about what makes a good leader (in her experience):
- listen and be teachable
- work really hard at knowing people's names (and know something about their life)
- say "thank you"
- be real and vulnerable with people
- be a team builder and realize that there is a place for everyone
- get feedback from others
- don't clutch power for yourself, empower others
- know your non-negotiables, the principles that you want to live/lead by
- know that you are God's beloved - no matter what
- obedience means more than performance
- serve for God, not others
- partake in spiritual rhythms
One lady reminded me that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. Sometimes we feel like we are a mailbox in the desert. We keep waiting for God to answer us, but he doesn't seem to deliver. But God will not forsake us. All the little things along the way (however difficult they may be) are leading to something great. God is still working in our lives. And he is simultaneously working in the lives of others. We are all collaborating to create a story that God began writing ages ago.
Another great question which was asked was "What makes your heart sing?" I think it is important to step back from your life every now and then to evaluate how you are living. What do you spend most of your time doing? Who do you spend most of your time with? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you really happy? When is it that you are most happy? What makes your heart sing?