In reviewing suggested topics from the Business Women’s Forum participants survey this year, one stood out to me: women we need in the world today. Recently, there’s been more trending in the news and media regarding equality, the wage gap and empowerment. In light of these things, I’ve been thinking about my late grandmother’s life.
My grandmother graduated from pharmacy school in the 1940s and was a pharmacist owning her own drugstore in small town Idaho all while raising my father on her own. She was a widow for more than 60 years and she didn’t complain about the struggles she dealt with. She pressed forward and continued to encourage all around her.
This is the type of woman we need more of in the world today and the type of woman I aim to be. Here are four tactics I have learned from my late grandmother and others.
1. Remember to take care of you. If you are like me and others in this busy world, many times we put ourselves last. A quote from Brené Brown describes this well: “In a society that says, ‘Put yourself last,’ self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.” Taking the time to put you first, allows you to have strength and energy to give to others and things you value.
This means saying “no” more often and “yes” to the things that matter most. You’re in charge of where and how you spend your time. I am a transplant to Utah from California and most of my family lives out of state. I choose to invest time and money by traveling to visit them often, video chatting, calling, texting and sending birthday or holiday cards because I am committed to having a strong relationship with them. Associates will comment on how much I travel and how lucky I am, but it isn’t luck. I work on these family relationships and choose to say no to other activities.
I also don’t have as much time or the drive to host parties like I used to with many of my friends. Now, I schedule one-on-one time with myself, associates and friends. These activities include:
- Going for a walk after work
- Attending networking events
- Reading a book over the summer and meeting up for lunch each month to discuss it
- Dropping by someone’s house or workplace to say hello
Taking care of yourself will help you give to others.
2. Listen. Taking the time to effectively listen, to understand what someone is saying builds trust. Trust is the foundation of a healthy personal or professional relationship. Growing up, my father would tell me you have two ears and one mouth; you should listen twice as much as you speak. I continuously remind myself of this advice when I am listening to others one-on-one or in a meeting, to genuinely take time to understand instead of listening to respond.
Has there been a time recently that you felt like no one was listening? How did you feel? Did your trust and engagement increase or decrease? In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Habit 5 is “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
3. Focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. Early in my career I wanted to grow my salary specifically. Looking back on this experience I realize I spent too much time focusing on the salary aspect of my position instead of examining my competencies and finding meaning in the work I was doing.
Some ways that help me focus on what I have instead of what I don’t are:
- Saying hello or smiling at others
- Choosing a good attitude
- Investing in positive relationships
- Attaching work to service
- Knowing why I work
- Continuing to learn
- Taking time to say thank you, in-person, email, text or mail a note
4. Mentor or mentee. You’re never too young or old to mentor and be a mentee. A mentor coaches by giving guidance, sharing ideas and providing feedback. They are a resourceful person to enhance your opportunities and a source of encouragement. My grandmother always encouraged her grandchildren to gain an education because my grandfather died when my father was one and a half years old. He was the only child and she was able to be the provider because of her pharmacy degree.
A few years into my career, my director, a trusted advisor to me, encouraged me to go back to earn my master’s degree. I was hesitant in my abilities and the time commitment: could I work full-time and go to school part-time? But I did it and graduated almost four years ago with my Master’s Degree in Public Administration. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences.
A mentee learns, develops, partners and is the student to the mentor. One of the best things I have learned from my mentors is to always volunteer for an extra credit project that will help me grow professionally, even if it takes additional time. This advice allowed me to expand my abilities and knowledge.
More recently, I was speaking with a mentor about my career path and developing leadership skills; he reminded me that observing what you don’t want to become as a leader is just as important as who you want to become as a leader.
Join us for the upcoming Business Women’s Forum Luncheon on ‘Maintaining Wellness as a Busy Professional’ on July 17, 2108: Register Here.
Lori Williams, MPA, is an associate director of marketing for University of Utah Health. For the past 10 years, she has worked in marketing and communications in the health care and education industries. She has created and lead successful marketing and communications campaigns, which include the rebrand initiative for U of U Health, Breast Assured, Vas Madness and Here for Every Body. Lori, a Cali girl, is a transplant to Utah; you can find her on the ski slopes in the winter and teaching swim lessons in her spare time. She is fro-yo fanatic, adventure seeker and enjoys learning from others. Connect with her on Twitter @lorib_williams.