Bring Your Leadership to Life!

Today is the 20th day of the new blog series entitled Bring Your Leadership to Life! Join us throughout the month of March as we feature guest bloggers who share their perspective on how they bring their leadership to life! This blog series highlights the theme of the 2nd Annual Evening for Austin Leading Ladies, which took place two nights ago. Over 200 amazing women leaders came together for a night of inspiration, networking, and learning. 

Melinda Jane O’Cañas, is a Diabetes Care Associate for Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in diabetes care, haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, and is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration, both from St. Edward’s University. Melinda’s leadership is still in the early stages, but enjoys serving as a mentor to young migrant college students, being an advocate for healthy living, and building lasting relationships that continue to develop her leadership. She is from a small town in South Texas – Odem, but currently resides in Austin. She can be contacted at: melinda.ocanas@gmail.com

So you all think I’m a leader? HOW did that happen?

I continuously ask myself these questions daily. Just how did I become aware that I had these so called leadership qualities and capabilities? There comes a time where you have to stop asking yourself these questions, and just accept that you are worthy of something bigger than yourself.

The best way that I’m bringing my leadership to life is by following my true passions in life, and taking a strategic approach as to why these are the best decisions for me. I did not figure out what I was truly passionate about until I went through the SOS Gr8 Women Leaders Program. This program, by design, helped me realize what matters most in my life and how my behaviors and motivators make me a unique leader. I had never written a personal goal, because I thought the only things that mattered were work/school related goals. I had never taken the time to personally invest in myself and what I was capable of achieving.

Now, I know you’re ready for the rich advice that I’m supposed to provide, and don’t worry, it’s coming, but I want to showcase my humbleness, vulnerability and honesty with all of you.

Look, I want to be a beam of shining light that proves that you can come from nothing and become something. I grew up in a small rural town, was on free/reduce lunch, raised by a single parent in an emotionally disconnected household, was sexually taken advantage when I was 6 years old, was an alcoholic by the time I was 19 years old and made very poor and irresponsible decisions growing up. I WAS HEADED NO WHERE!

It’s extremely difficult for me to paint a picture of my past because of what people might think or say about me. But I’ve learned that this is what makes me unique. This is what gives hope to people who are struggling with their own battles. Even though I’m holding back, I can honestly say, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

But what does this prove? It proves that my resilience and desire to become something more than what my adversities had in store for me. I was destined to fail, to become a nobody, to live life just going through the motions. I literally told myself one day, “I think you’re worth something Melinda.” That’s all it took. For ME to believe that I was worth something.

Fast forward to present day. I am the first in my family to have a bachelor’s degree and am currently working on my master’s degree, I have a humbling career that I’m passionate about, I’m reconnecting with old friends and lost family members, I’m realizing what matters most in my life and I’m grateful for my humble beginnings because I appreciate everything so much more!

We all have our unique stories, so why be ashamed or embarrassed of sharing it? That’s what makes us learn and grow from each other. Some of you reading this right now were fortunate enough to have never gone through what I went through, but still have that appreciation for a story like mine because it gives you that perspective that builds your own leadership qualities.

Be comfortable with sharing your story because it’s what may set you apart from the others.

Ok, so I promised that it was coming, so here’s my “worthy advice.” 😉

Don’t try to fit in someone else’s perfect box. Be yourself and know that it’s ok to do crazy things that make sense to you and brings you joy and happiness.

Be confident in every decision that you make. Know that there are always lessons to be learned when a decision may not be the right one.

Be bold. Be the best version of yourself always. Be happy in everything that you’re working on whether that’s professional or personal. If something doesn’t make you happy, change it. Do something about it to make it right.

Be comfortable in your own skin. For women, this is always our biggest struggle. But really, this boils down to showcasing your talents, gifts and skills no matter how thin, tall, pretty or smart you are. Who cares where you came from or what your background is. You are worthy of something great, so LIVE IT LOUD!

Be happy! I’m not even joking when I say that Pharrell’s “Happy” song from Despicable Me 2 has played every morning while I’m getting ready. We are only here for a short time, so make the most of it. Sure you may have a bad moment or bad day, but don’t let it eat you up. Be like water off a duck’s back; don’t let negative comments or emotions irritate you or “soak in” and get to you much like the oil on duck feathers won’t let the water soak in.

I can really go on and on about myself, my leadership advice and talking in general, but I’ll cut it off here. I know each of you is capable of doing something amazing, but you have to start with believing in yourself, then everything will naturally fall into place.

Good luck out there, fearless leaders!

Stay tuned in the days to come as the Bring Your Leadership to Life Series continues….

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