We all have moments in our lives that turn us in a direction we didn’t expect. Sometimes these moments are quite defining, but usually only in hindsight.
I was recently part of the production staff at the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit. A plethora of very accomplished business women spoke about their journeys and successes in the professional world, and lucky for me – I had a front row seat.
One woman in particular, talked about her most defining career moment. For 20 years, Lynn was a workaholic at Microsoft and had a life-changing revelation about a year ago. She didn’t want her gravestone to say she was a “darn good Microsoft worker” – instead she wanted it to say that she was a beloved wife, mother and friend.
Tears streamed down her cheeks as she told this story and I shed a few myself. I instantly had a flashback to one of my most defining moments while working in the non-profit world. It was by far the most grueling and abusive job I have ever had. Along with a struggling economy which made it very difficult to raise money, my slave-driving boss literally abused our team both mentally and emotionally. I know she had the organization’s mission in her heart, but her management tactics were horrendous and often left people in tears. I had very little respect for her and remember the exact moment when the last shred was lost.
She gathered our team in her office and badgered us about not raising enough money. Apparently our 60-hour work weeks didn’t meet her expectations. I remember her explicitly saying that she wanted her gravestone to say that she was a really hard worker. She never mentioned being a beloved wife, or a good parent, or even a dear friend. It was at that moment that she became my official negative role model. I promised myself I would never, ever, ever become like her.
Although I’m not married and don’t have little ones running around, I know I’m a great friend, and one day will be an amazing parent and wife.
Thanks Lynn for reminding me of this vow.