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Personal growth and giving yourself credit

[This reading is from Jelene Crehan, Interim Director of Network Engineering and Telecommunications at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She is a recent MOR program alum.  Jelene may be reached at [email protected].]

After spending much time reflecting on reflecting… I realize I do a lot more reflection in my car, driving in complete silence, when I am alone for 1 hour and 15 minutes each way,  which is the most inconvenient time to write down my reflection.  I have a few things to share that have crossed my mind in the last few weeks, and I am hoping in turn, this is a reflection I can return to, to remind myself of the journey I am on.

I don’t know about all of you, but I am finding more and more that I don’t give myself enough credit for things in life (work or life in general) that I have accomplished. And when I do accomplish a thing, I don’t sit in it and reflect on the impact it had, what it took to get there, or try to understand how it affected my team or family.  I have always been a team oriented person, from a young age I grew up in team sports.  Very rarely have I ever chased a goal/dream on my own, or for myself.  For so many years I have been waiting for others to make those goals happen for me. For a loooong time I felt that I was “stuck” in my position. For so many years I was waiting for others to “unstick” me.  If only my boss would have challenged me with something new or if only my boss would have given me a raise for simply being here. I was complacent, waiting for life to happen to me.  I always had this mentality of… if other things outside of me would just show up for me the way I need them to, I’d be doing great.  Now, I’m finding myself asking “Self? What if I stopped waiting for others to unstick me?” “What if I focused on me, how will that impact myself and others?” “What if I start chasing, rather than waiting for something to fall in my lap?”  Then, in creeps that MOR uncomfortableness we affectionately talk about.

It wasn’t until I had to put together my leadership journey presentation and reflected on my past, that I realized that there are things that *I* have accomplished, that I really hadn’t recognized before or given myself a pat on the back for.  Whether they are career oriented or not, *I* still did it.  And every accomplishment I think of over the last few months (big or small), has been a direct correlation to our leadership training. My revelation in my car ride home the other day was if I continue to work on myself, become a better leader, a better mom, a better wife, a better teammate, others will feed off of that energy and feel a sense of accomplishment as well.  “When you lead by example, you make it easy for others to follow you.”

Are there going to be things that I try and fail at? Yes. I need to give myself some grace, get up and try again. Sometimes it’s something as simple as promising myself I will be 5 minutes early to every meeting—still working on that one! Or, I make it a point to talk in EVERY meeting within the first 5-10 minutes. Just say something.  It doesn’t need to be profound, it doesn’t need to be challenging or incredibly thought provoking.  It’s having presence, letting people know you are in the room. I have spoken in EVERY meeting I have attended for the last 2 weeks. THAT’S an accomplishment for me! It may be small to some folks, but for me, this is a pretty big deal. I have been reminding myself that I got this far because of who I am.  And dang it, I can do hard things!  Sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself that this season I am in now, is about personal growth. No one else will care more about my life, my career, my goals as much as I do, so it’s time to step up to the plate and start swinging.

I was chosen to participate in the MOR program because someone saw potential in me.  I don’t think I would have been chosen for this program if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone, stick my neck out, and ask to be in the leadership position that I am currently in.  Being in this leadership position has encouraged me to make changes (personally and team related).   I want my team to be the best it can be, and that needs to start with me.  Am I scared? Absolutely, but I am certainly willing to work through that fear to make me a better version of myself because that will lead to far greater things in my group.  Never settle for where you currently are.

My next goal in life is to be in someone else’s leadership journey.  What’s yours?

You read this far?! Thanks for sticking it out!