Just a few weeks ago, I stumbled across my name tag from Leadership Corpus Christi in 2000. As our first assignment, we were to share what was most important to us. Mine had a picture of my young daughter, a basketball goal, a sailboat, and the word "driven." For as far back as I can remember, I'd identified with that word. Whether it was as a student seeking a particular grade or degree, a manager or entrepreneur reaching for a certain revenue or profit mark, or as an runner aiming for a specific mile pace, I'd identify a goal and then go after it intensely. I'd seen reasonable success with that method and saw it as a useful approach. Recently, I was asked to complete a similar exercise. There was only one problem: I simply couldn't do it.
Recognized as a pivotal figure of the 19th century, the life of Susan B. Anthony offers valuable lessons in leadership. Few figures in history are credited with greater accomplishments. As the New York State Senate recognized in a resolution of remembrance, Anthony was known for her "unceasing labor, undaunted courage, and unselfish devotion." Despite failing to achieve her goal of equal political rights during her lifetime, she never wavered in her passion and confidence. Through her words and writings, Susan B. Anthony's approach to societal reform provides a generous roadmap for future leaders.
I'll always remember the summer of '92. My Mom had become very sick the year before, and my middle school life had been turned upside down. During one of our monthly lunches at Wendy's (because we both loved the unusual salad bar), she gave me a copy of The Firm. I disappeared for days into Mitch and Abby's fast-paced world, forgetting my own tough reality. Next, I joined the characters within The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill. In the midst of that difficult summer, I immediately understood the power of a story. My life-long love affair with words had begun with a legal thriller that almost never saw the light of day. As I devoured story after story, year after year, I wanted to know more about the man behind them. Inspired by the chilling testimony of a young girl in a Mississippi courtroom, John Grisham somehow found time to write his first novel while maintaining his legal practice and serving in the state legislature. To anyone seeking to do great work amongst the demands of daily life, Grisham's own story is as riveting as any he created.
First I was the gifted student-athlete. Then I was the teen mom that earned her MBA at 21. Then I was the CPA turned community activist. Then I was the multi-preneur. Then I was the high-flying executive. Then I was the health focused writer, consultant, and business builder. Then I accepted another executive job and the leadership of 93 year-old non-profit. At every transition point, I had a crisis of identity - some minor, some major. This last one, in particular, challenged me to my core.