Last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Group Health’s Women’s Leadership Forum. I was asked to speak of my experience following my dream and share salient points that made my journey successful. During the speech, I spoke of my journey to confidence, something lacking for much of my life. I also spoke of building my tribe of people who would support, guide and encourage me on this journey. Without these 4 remarkable women, I have no doubt I would not be standing in front of this group on this day giving this speech. And finally, I spoke of listening to the Universe, trusting it, and doing what it took to successfully achieve the goal I’d set for myself.
I won’t share the entire speech here, but thought I would share the salient points.
Dream, Believe, Achieve. That’s the motto of my business. It came about through my own experience of achieving my dream. Three and a half years ago, I quit my job in Washington, DC, sold my house, left my family, got rid of nearly half of my belongings and moved myself across country to return to Seattle. People always tell me how brave I was. It didn’t feel brave at all. To me, it was survival.
GAINING CONFIDENCE: I wasn’t a weak person. I was born blind in one eye, had back surgery at 14 that required me to be bedridden in a hospital for an entire school year, followed by a year wearing a very visible back brace as I started high school. And there have been other challenges in my life that I always simply faced. I never whined, or complained. It just was what it was and I dealt with it. But in spite of my inner strength, there was no confidence. Without confidence, I couldn’t set goals. I floated from job to job, relationship to relationship, never sticking to anything.
SETTING GOALS: I finally reached the point where I was tired of being without direction. I started by setting goals around education. I earned my bachelors in Accounting from UW and was recruited to Microsoft. Years later, realizing accounting wasn’t the profession for me, I set my sights on education and earned my master’s degree from George Washington University, immediately secured a job in training and development and my career started to take off. I felt I’d finally figured out the direction for myself. I started to experience success and as a result, started to believe in myself. I finally developed the confidence that was so lacking in my early life.
TAKING RISKS: Fast forward to 2013, living in a town I didn’t like or fit in. I’d recently ended a long term relationship. My job, that I’d previously loved, had lost its appeal. So, the three important things that we all need in our lives, relationships, work life, and social life, all dissipated over the course of two years, leaving me empty. I decided to return to Seattle and started applying for jobs, thinking if I could just get a job here, I could make the move. Anyone who’s ever been in the job search knows what an emotional roller coaster that can be. I fell into a funk and couldn’t get out. That is, until I allowed people to help me.
BUILD YOUR TRIBE: There were three people in my life who were key to my success. A friend recommended a counselor I could speak with; someone neutral, without any vested interest in my choices. The first thing she did was to help me find my power again. Then she helped me see the options I had open to me. Another friend was a career counselor. We emailed on a daily basis, and with her gentle style, helped me, encouraged me, and supported me on my journey.
The third person needs a bit of a set up. I tend to wake up in the morning and have these brilliant a-ha moments of perfect clarity. One morning, during this period, I woke up with the very clear vision that returning to Seattle, with or without a job, was the answer. Right then and there, I made a commitment to making that happen. You know how sometimes the Universe just reaches right out and hits you on the head? That happened during this process. After making the commitment to return to Seattle, not knowing how that was going to work, one of my oldest friends in Seattle wrote to me out of the blue and offered a place to stay while I got myself settled. WOW! That simple gesture helped me see that this was the right direction for me and that it would work!
TRUST THE UNIVERSE: My epiphany occurred in late February 2013. I worked doggedly to make my dream happen. In early-April, my house went on the market and sold in 2 days. By mid-May, I was on my way west and back to Seattle Within the space of 3 months, I had turned my life upside down to follow my dream. And the signs kept coming. Several consulting gigs came my way over that first summer, then a call from an organization I’d interviewed with the previous year asking if I’d consult with them during a transition. This was another great sign that I was on the right path. This organization considered me an employee with benefits, retirement and a steady paycheck. With employee status, I was now able to secure a mortgage and buy my house. I’d set three goals for myself this time: have a successful career here in Seattle, have a great relationship, and finally, own a home with a view of the water. Within one year of that landmark decision in February 2013, I had achieved my dream, and all three goals! I now have a home with a view of the water, a great relationship, and my career has surpassed my expectations.
BE OPEN TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES: The final piece of the puzzle came about mid-2014. Up until that time, my work had involved training & development, leadership development and coaching. I was asked to join a team of coaches who worked the Microsoft outplacement when the 2000 people were laid off in 2014. Helping people every day, working with hundreds of individuals who had lost their jobs to land wonderful new opportunities fired something in me. Having achieved my own dream, and now working with people who had their own dreams, I saw that this was the work I was meant to spend the rest of my career on. There is something humbling and yet remarkably rewarding about helping someone else succeed. Having been through my own journey and landing in a place of absolute happiness, I now want that for everyone and the programs I’ve developed help my clients get there too. I honestly believe everyone has a dream that is achievable, and I’m here to help them get there.
KEY POINTS TO ACHIEVE YOUR DREAM:
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking life and career changes, she will coach you to success.