This article first appeared in Forbes on 29 June 2020
By: Helen Krug von Nidda
You could hear a pin drop. Diane von Furstenberg, aka DVF, forever beautifully poised, leaned in and said:
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be…I wanted to be a woman in charge.
Not quite as poised, I hurriedly retrieved my phone and typed her pearls of wisdom. The mood was electric. I was at a #WomenInCharge event, a platform to help women expand their connections and inspire and champion themselves and others. I was surrounded by a sea of women clad in DVF from head to stiletto. (This was a few months ago, when social proximity was still en vogue.)
Today, we are in the midst of a great pause, having to spend time with ourselves and/or with partners or roommates, as the case may be. Yet, in this forced pause, DVF’s message still lingers in my mind.
I was reminded how seldom we spend time, as she mentioned, “in relationship with ourselves.” I often hear, “I am stuck and I don’t know what I want to do,” “What should I do?” or “I don’t know what I want to be doing,” or some version of that groan.
DVF approached that dilemma quite differently: She focused on the “being” – how she wanted to feel – and what she wanted to manifest for herself. She wanted to “be” in charge – and as a result, she gave us that wrap dress and so much more!
Whilst we might be feeling a little worse for wear…now is the opportunity to use the great pause in service of our dreams. Take this moment to follow a simple guide to get ready to be in charge, dressmaker style.
Pick your dream pattern.
If you had to design your next wrap dress, what do you imagine it would look like? Use that same approach for your future self.
What do you want to your life to look like in one, three, or five years from now? By asking future-focused questions, you allow yourself to imagine.
List at least twenty things; look for common themes (e.g., health, travel, career). Which themes are most pressing and what do they indicate?
Cut your fabric to measure.
Use the same fervor as your Google search tactics to explore your inner fabric or your “why.” Simon Sinek, author of Finding Your Why, shares a simple exercise: Ask your acquaintances what they love about you (awkward, I know, but do it anyway).
Their responses capture the impact you have on others, what they love about you, and what draws people to you. What are you finding out about yourself as you receive multiple perspectives of you?
Go slow while you sew.
Take the time to identify the learning gap between your current self and life dream. What conditions, knowledge, and skills do you need?
The answers will become your milestones. It is not going to be a straight path (we have nature to thank for that), but a winding path provides opportunities to slow down and take stock along the way.
Stitch your team.
A dress is nothing without sturdy stitching. Your team is no exception and should be a combination of many threads.
Surround yourself with those who nurture your dreams and aspirations. Naysayers are fine, too, as they provide another perspective, but quite frankly, your internal impostor is probably already in the front row taking care of business.
Try kaizen on for size.
Kaizen is the Japanese process of continuous, incremental improvement. It is going to take patience and perseverance to manifest your dream, particularly in these current times. Use the pause to take a moment, even if just a few minutes a day, for yourself.
Why does any of this matter? An HBR study found that vision is linked to greater self-confidence and that, for women, actively practicing visioning for themselves and others is key to fostering a desired future.
When the DVF event came to a close, she flashed a huge smile and said:
The most important relationship you have in life is the one you have with yourself. Once you have a relationship with yourself, any other is a perk, not a must.
I couldn’t reach my phone, so I committed it to memory. Her advice remains as timeless as her dress. And that’s a wrap!
Helen Krug von Nidda is a contagiously optimistic executive coach and career transition coach with over twenty years of global experience in human resources. She is the founder of Rise Collective, a boutique coaching and training practice for women. She coaches women who want to go bold and pursue their life dreams. She enthusiastically leads urban and destination retreats in support of women’s personal and professional growth.