**This blog originally appeared on Cart Mama. Click here to see the original post.**
I am that age where I think about my future children quite a bit. I wonder what they will look like. Will they get mommy’s green eyes and daddy’s perfect nose? I think about their personality. Will they be extroverted and gregarious, delighting in being the light of the party? Or will they prefer to do the listening and quietly observe? Perhaps most importantly, I think about the imprint they will leave on this world. I wonder what they will change; what archaic belief systems they will challenge; and what ripple effect of positive impact they will have on their community.
There is so much I look forward to teaching them, from how to read to how to dance to how to be kind to others. But I also want to demonstrate that leadership, and their ability to make a positive difference, is a choice (more on that here). They shouldn’t let the roles they hold one day and the career path they choose constrain their ability to lead. Rather, they should always remember that leadership is a choice, and we all have a responsibility to do and be better. I hope they’ll keep the following lessons I’ve learned along the way about leadership in mind:
1. Don’t Ever Hide Your Talent: When I was 23 I got a job as a Web Editor for a reputable media company. I joined a sea of 10 other 20-something-year-olds and considered this a dream scenario: I would find lifelong friends and embark on my career. Though I did find one lifelong friend, I came to realize that the more I received praise at work from my superiors—and started receiving access to other opportunities—the more I become ostracized by my other peers. The result? I under-performed. I operated at about 90 percent when I had 120 percent to give. I felt somehow responsible—and guilty—for the acclaim I would receive. But even by being less, and giving less, I could never crack the “inner circle” of my peers.
Lesson Learned: Don’t ever hide—or apologize—for being talented and earning recognition. The minute you apologize for your talent is the day you resign to not living to your fullest potential. Instead, be fierce, be talented and be humble.
2. Celebrate Wins Along the Way: As an eternal perfectionist and fastidiously driven achiever, I often miss the professional and personal wins along the way. I can be sadly driven by the elusive chase of the corporate ladder. I live my life 10 steps ahead, often realizing I am not present and appreciative in the current moment. But I’ve gotten better. Over the years, I’ve put intentional focus on celebrating small wins every day. I delight in a winning moment in my career; recognize my inherent strengths and commit to nourishing them; and perform gut checks and take moments of introspection regularly to make sure I am present. The result? I’ve found greater meaning in my world.
Lesson Learned: You are a rock star and deserve to celebrate shining moments. Understand that being ambitious and being proud are not mutually exclusive.
3. Surround Yourself By Those Smarter Than You: There is incredible fulfillment and inspiration that comes from surrounding yourself both professionally and personally with those who challenge you. I’ve had a number of mentors, colleagues and employees over the years who have elevated me to new levels of excellence by simply being themselves. True leaders know that to lead effectively is to surround yourself by talented, insanely driven, collaborative and stimulating team members who are not afraid to be their true selves. True leaders understand they are only at their best when they recognize there is something to learn from every person with whom they work.
Lesson Learned: Don’t be threatened by powerhouses. Instead, learn from them, nourish their talents and delight in their company. You always have something to learn, ideas that should be challenged and inspiration to derive from others.
What about you? What lessons about leadership do you hope to impart to your kids? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Carrie Majewski is committed to affecting change. As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as VP of Marketing for Trilix. Carrie is a 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” honoree and a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner. In her spare time you'll find her trying out a local hip-hop class, exploring parks with her rescue dog Tori, and sipping coffee with other powerhouse women.