On the way to this year’s Women in Leadership event, I got on the plane and settled in to the flight heading to beautiful Phoenix, Arizona. I was happily surprised, as we were taxiing, to find a commercial from the airline about their own Women in Aviation program. The irony was not lost on me. Normally one to be already reading my latest book, I instead found myself watching the commercial happy to see women featured in every type of position at every level of the airline and thrilled to see that there is equal support for women. It started off my trip in an amazing light.
From there it only got better!
During my tenure at Lewis Fowler, I have had the honor of being part of nine Women in Leadership events, in two different cities, and this was the fifth one I’ve had the opportunity to attend in person. I also very much enjoyed my first trip to Arizona – checking off another state from my list. Our Managing Partner, Amy Fowler Stadler, spearheaded the Women in Leadership event 13 years ago and has a true passion for this event. One of our core values is Community Return, and the Women in Leadership event has always been one of my major highlights of working for Lewis Fowler. There is something extremely special about being in a room with 200+ women all there for the purpose of getting inspired and inspiring others.
This year’s event was no exception. In fact, it was one of the best set of speakers that we have had, AND that is saying a whole lot as we have had many inspiring panels. What made this set of speakers great was how they all fit together, seemingly perfectly, even though we found them all individually. It’s funny how that happens.
Each time I attend a Women in Leadership event, I look for the takeaways – the key nuggets of wisdom that I can use to help me grow both professionally and personally. This year, it was Eileen’s key values of courage, integrity, and creativity that resonated with me. It wasn’t so much the exact values, but instead how she lived these values with a determined focus and how vulnerable she allowed herself to be in her effort to live by these values.
Eileen’s vulnerability in her speech, which can be viewed HERE, gave me pause to take a look at my own values. If it was me up there, which one day I hope it is, could I be as vulnerable and sure as Eileen seemed to be? I have lived a life of values, but I have never been purposeful about it, instead allowing myself to fall into social norms. After this Women in Leadership conference, that all changed. I found myself asking if I was faced with specific challenges, how would I want to handle them? What core values are the ones that I would want to hold myself against, purposefully and with determination?
Armed with Eileen’s speech, and insights I got from others during the network portions of the event, I took to personal reflection. It was not instant, but luckily I had taken time for myself after the event and used some of this time off for that purpose. What I found was a working model of my core values that I’m trying on for size. Like Eileen, I looked for my top three, the ones that played a consistent role in the many decisions I have made over my life. When I played back all my major decisions, I saw a theme:
Efficiency, Understanding, Realism
There are so many values that one can hold, one list I found with the help of Google, was 500 long. I could have very easily chosen a dozen or more, but when it really came down to the major decisions in my life, these three values were top of the list.
Efficiency – I take on a lot in my life and I often get the statement “I don’t know how you do it” from the people around me. I realized this is how I do it, this core value of mine. I highly value efficiency. If there is a better, faster, smarter way to do anything, I find it.
Understanding – Stolen from Stephen Covey, I seek first to understand than to be understood, and this is important to me. I want to know how others have come to something, I want to understand their why, and I want to come to a place of knowledge. Everyone has their reasons, whether we agree or not, and that understanding drives much of how I operate and collaborate with others.
Finally, Realism – I asked a friend of my recently if I was an optimist or a pessimist, and we both came to the quick conclusion that I’m neither, I’m actually a realist. I may love the way something is going or I may not, but I value being able to take any situation for what it truly is. Without truth, we fool ourselves and it is in that truth that I want to be able to see any situation.
All in all, this Women in Leadership event theme and message truly stuck with me. I am grateful to have been able to learn and get inspired from the amazing panelists, and look forward to learning even more at the next event. I figured out my core values, can you determine yours?