Change, Leadership and Getting a Life

The voices in my head have been in a constant state of reflection, uncertainty, frustration, excitement and even a little bit of fear in recent weeks.  To say it is and has been an emotional roller coaster is putting it mildly.  This is difficult for a person who plays it pretty close to the vest and does not share easily.  Keeping a positive and upbeat attitude during emotional turmoil you are keeping inside is exhausting.  

Change is a good thing, right?  At least that is what I keep chanting to myself.

  1. In two days, my youngest son graduates from High School and soon leaves for college.  I helped raise my sister so, to be really honest, for the first time in my entire life I will not have a minor child in my care.   My ENTIRE life!
  2. A few days ago, my older son came over, made me dinner (first sign a bomb was about to drop) and announced that he and his significant other are engaged.  I am thrilled and she is awesome. 
  3. In three very, very short weeks I will assume the position of President of the Portland Chapter of CSI.  At the same time, I will also assume the position of Chair of the Institute Certification Prep Committee and have joined the CSI Academies Planning Team. 
  4. In the last year I went from having never spoken in public to now around 19 public speaking or teaching engagements.  
  5. My work has been in a state of constant flux as I have been lucky enough to create my own niche in an engineering firm doing things most engineering firms would never even think of.   23 years in an architectural firm helped create an opportunity to bring collaboration between the two disciplines to another level.  Having a supportive company for that effort is golden.

OK, that is a lot of change!

I can’t fathom what it might be like to get up on a quiet Saturday morning and do whatever I feel like doing after years of chaos in a very active family.  This will be weird but I know I will get over it.  While the transition is bittersweet, it is also exciting to think of what the next phase of my life will hold.  I have lots of ideas some of which have already started.  I am racing dragon boats, discovered I kind of like good beer and am getting back in shape.  That all feels awesome and is only a drop in the bucket of my plans!

I am also excited about the opportunities I have in front of me with my firm, especially with the backing of two very supportive bosses who recognize what I may have to offer.

What I find more intimidating are the leadership roles in CSI for which I am about to embark.  What a journey going from signing up for a CDT class to this level of responsibility in such a short period of time.  I don’t think that happens a lot.  This last 2-1/2 years in CSI have been a wild ride of new experiences, career changing adventures, constant learning and absolutely amazing new colleagues and friends.  Truly, all of this feels like it came out of nowhere.  When I joined CSI, while I expected to learn, I did not expect this.

As I am about to take this next step in CSI, I am very seriously considering leadership and what that means to me.  What should it look like and what kind of legacy I would like to leave for those behind me.  This means a lot to me and failure is not an option.  Even more than that, the status quo is not an option either.  I want to make a difference.

So what does leadership look like?  Really, it looks a lot like parenting. 

  • It means leading by example
  • It means not asking anyone to do anything you would not do yourself
  • It means establishing clear goals and objectives – together, as a group
  • It means inviting people in and appreciating their work
  • It means not being afraid to challenge history to make a better future
  • It means being open-minded and collaborative
  • It means listening and it means being honest with feedback
  • It means being grateful, very grateful
  • It means knowing you can’t do it all yourself, nor should you
  • It means commitment
  • It means inspiring your members
  • It means having a sense of humor and knowing that things go wrong and the world will not end because of it.  You know, don’t sweat the small stuff.

As I reflect on this new adventure in leadership, I do so with a healthy dose of reality about the importance of the responsibility I have been given.   I did not get here alone, I will not do it alone and I do not take it lightly.

So, while my life at the moment feels like it is upside down in many ways, today I am grateful for the people in my life who exhibited the leadership and friendship that helped me to be in a position to even have these opportunities.   None of this could have been possible without them and they get the credit.

My message to the incoming CSI Leaders across the country who will be taking over on July 1st: Congratulations!  Remember to exhibit the same spirit of leadership that you received and that got you to where you are today.  Be open to new ideas.

My message to the leaders who are stepping aside to let new blood take a crack at it:  THANK YOU for your guidance, support and encouragement!  We have big shoes to fill.

       Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world.   Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. —                                                                                                                                                                                      Margaret Mead

 Image                       Image

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