Today’s guest blog comes from SOS Gr8 Women Leader Ashley Schenk.
For the past several months I’ve been focusing on answering the call…. not just answering the call to leadership but also answering the call to discovering who I am and being the best version of myself. Since I’ve started my leadership journey, I’ve really been confronted with determining what matters most in my life; discovering where I am right now, where I want to be in the future, and faced with the task of setting priorities. Through the Gr8 Leaders Program, I have been challenged, pushed, and encouraged to find and become who I was born to be.
The only problem is… it’s quite exhausting. Most people would think that after 28 years of life, you’d already know who you are, what you want to be, where you’re going, and it would be a piece of cake to list your passions in life. To be honest, I truly feel like I’ve been talking to a stranger.
I’ve found that the real issue most of us women face is the intimidating question of how we can stop trying to be who we aren’t, let go of who we think we’re supposed to be, and hold true to who we were born to be. This is the exact foundation of the book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Through the bombardment of messages from social media, expectations from ourselves, our boss, co-workers, friends and family, we are led to believe that if we could only be perfect and live perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. We’d be the perfect picture of people-pleasing women with the super powers to be skinny regardless of the mounds of chocolate cake we devour on a bad day. It’s the epitome of false fronts, it’s damaging, it’s exhausting, and it’s not who I was born to be.
I was born to be a positive leader with the ability to be honest, authentic, and open. It’s a vulnerable transparency that creates the ability to understand others. It comes in many shapes and forms, is developed through experiences, and it is unique… but it all leads back to the passion and desire to create an environment that is inviting and rejects false fronts. It’s facing the challenge of distinguishing myself as a unique individual who was created to make a difference in the lives of others. Leadership is the ability to answer tough questions about my attitudes towards other people, outside circumstances, and myself.
It’s through these tough questions that I have found out who I am. I’ve become myself through mistakes, failures, obstacles, failed relationships, divorce, disappointments, and the difficulties of being a single mom. Most importantly, I’ve become myself by learning to have the courage, compassion, and faith to know that people are both the obstacle and the solution to every goal I have.
Leadership… though the word can be quite intimidating at times, its merely the simple ability to lead yourself and others quickly to high levels of effectiveness and it all depends on your capability to maintain a focus, regardless of the circumstances that arise. You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t, you have to take action to find out what you’re capable of and you need to have courage to find out who you are.
“I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am beautiful because I am aware of my flaws. I am brave because I’ve been afraid. I am wise because I’ve been foolish. I regret nothing in my life, even if my past was full of hurt. I can still look back and smile because it made me who I am today.”
Through the journey of discovering who I was born to be, I am reminded that allowing circumstances to dictate my attitudes and actions will only prevent me from becoming the leader I am called to be. The truth is I do not have to control situations or other people to reach the goals that matter most to me. I have the power and control to recognize the unlimited potential for creating a positive contribution to my family, friends, coworkers, and faith community.
I am so grateful to have wonderful, honest, and Godly women in my life and I’m so thankful for this journey to becoming a great leader. So, as I challenge myself, I also challenge other women… don’t talk to a stranger. Find out who you are, answer the tough questions, discover how you too can love who you are and become the person you were meant to be.