Written by Bernadette Pello
Livingstone Academy | KNOW Tampa Bay
What do I wish I knew then that I know now? So many things! One thing I wish I knew then that I know now is I am a work in progress. I, like many other women, are often pursued by a gremlin called perfectionism. It has taken me a long to realize that it’s okay allow myself to grow. I do not have to get it right the first time and yet, sometimes, it still frustrates me. Even as I write this, I considered whether to begin with, this statement, but the reality is that not being perfect and not getting things exactly right the first time can be frustrating. Maybe you can relate. Take this article. It has been written, rewritten, edited, reviewed and rewritten again. Isn’t that just like life? Choosing to be open to the process and vulnerable with my frustrations, however, has allowed me to learn and grow and that brings me to my next point. `
1. Finding the right balance between being professional and personable is key. In my early professional life, I viewed that word, “professional” very seriously. There was no fun to be had, no personality, straight to business always. Even my appearance. If I wore a blue suit, I had to wear blue pumps. There was no mixing and matching back then. What does it mean to be professional? You want people to know that you are competent, reliable and respectful while allowing your personality to shine through. Today, if I am wearing a blue suit, I still cannot mix patterns, however, I do add a pair of statement shoes. This little addition adds the personal to the professional. So, find your mix. Do not be afraid to step out of the box. It is always easier to step back in if needed than it is to feel stifled.
2. Most girls love a great bag. We love purses, handbags, and totes. They are beautiful and serve as a functional accessory. Just make sure that you are not carrying your mistakes around in them. As was mentioned earlier, we all make them. I made them. Still make them. However, today, I do my best to not carry them around with me. I am often encouraged by a scripture in Isaiah that says “Forget the former things and do not dwell on the past”. It goes on to say that we should focus on the new things God is doing in our lives. With that in mind, I believe that instead of carrying this baggage around, we should place them under our feet and use them as stepping-stones. Another use for statement shoes!
3. The people who you work with, your employees, boards, bosses, etc. are not your family. They may feel like family. You may care about them like family. However, the reality is that they are your team. This may sound harsh to some but it is a lesson worth learning. When you work with “family”, it can be difficult to correct behavior, hold someone accountable or even, to let them go. Why? Because you care about them. Now, that is not to say caring is a bad thing. It is a great thing. Yet, at the end of the day, your role is to move the ball (whatever your ball is) down the field. On a team, everyone needs to earn and keep their spot. Everyone needs to pull his or her weight. We should certainly extend grace when it is appropriate but making this mind shift will help you be a better leader and it will help those you lead be all that they can be. It took me a little while to buy into this concept, but when I finally did, it was a game changer.
I have learned a lot throughout my career and life and have much more to learn. In fact, this list could go on and on, but the reality is that I am still learning and my last nugget for you is this. Say what you want to say and then stop talking. For now, I will stop talking.