Layers of cells create our skin. Layers of education creates our knowledge. Layers of experiences create our emotions…
As I was developing my first Toastmasters speech a few weeks ago, I began to reflect on the layers of my life… the layers that have created who I am today…
The first layer of my life was developed by being The Curious Observer. As the youngest child (and only girl) in a family of six, I spent a lot of my time observing… observing my family dynamics and seeing where I fit into the group. I was fascinated by relationships… whether it was family relationships, friendship relationships or the little critters in nature. It was not unusual for me to sit out on the back step of my childhood home and watch the vast number of Box Elder bugs crawly crazily across the stuccoed side of our home… flying in… flying out…
I loved laying on my belly in the grass of our front yard, watching grasshoppers, ants and black beetle bugs moving about… always curious about why they were doing what they were doing. I would watch butterflies flit about in the air, lightly stopping on a flower or bush as if to take a brief respite until they would move gracefully back into the air… curious about where they were going and why they felt driven to fly here, there and everywhere…
My curiosity could also get me into a little trouble once in a while like the time I was listening in on the “party-line” at my Grandparent’s farm. For those of you who are too young to remember, a “party-line” was a phone line that connected several homes together so there was no privacy if you were talking on the phone. The proper thing to do when you picked up the telephone receiver to make a call was to hang up immediately if you heard someone else talking on the line. I did not think anything of listening in on the neighbor’s conversation but it didn’t take but one scolding from my Grandmother to help me learn the etiquette of being a part of the “party-line” circuit!
When I grew into my early teens, another layer developed… The Relentless Rebel. This layer protected me from the emotional pain of my father’s alcoholism, my parents’ divorce and the move to a community far from my childhood friends and home. As the Relentless Rebel, I decided the party life was much more fun than attending high school. This layer protected me… I learned that breaking the rules to fit what I wanted to do worked pretty well as long as I did not cross The Line… I toed up to The Line but I never fully crossed it. I knew (most likely from my Curious Observer layer), that crossing the line of the party life would most likely cause major damage in my life. So my relentlessness helped pushed me to graduate from high school six months early (as an honor graduate) and go to college.
The third layer I developed … The Business Boomer… arose out of my other two layers. As a Curious Observer, I learned what makes people tick in the workplace. As a Relentless Rebel, I never let anyone make me think I could not do something I wanted to do… or to not be someone I wanted to be.
I have had a great career which allowed me to continue to grow and develop my layers. I wrote my first business plan to open the first satellite outside of my companies’ home office in my early 30’s… growing our customer base from approximately $1.0 million to $9.0 million in revenue in four years. We moved to Colorado in my late thirties and together with my co-leaders, lead a turnaround of a $17 million office. An office that was destined to be closed down if a change was not made immediately. The relentless pursuit of success helped our staff earned a double bonus within 18 months of taking over that entity!
I returned to my home state of Minnesota in the early 2000’s and became an executive… a Vice President of this and that… with a temporary stint as the Human Resources Director thrown in for good measure. I never aspired to be a leader, in fact, if anyone had ever told me thirty years ago I would have been an executive in Corporate America, I would have laughed hysterically… me an executive… what a joke!
I realize now becoming a leader happened naturally for me… because of my many layers…
My Curious Observer layer helped me develop the knowledge of what it takes to create relationships that can withstand storms of conflict and the winds of change. My Relentless Rebel layer allowed me to take risks and not allow myself to be stopped by others’ beliefs (or lack thereof).
Yes, who I am was built upon those major layers of my life and today as I transition and transform into the next layer(s) of my life, I know that who I am is best described by my Twitter profile:
I am a relationship builder
I am the formulator of “feel good”
I am the fortifier for “flourish”
I am the Ambassador of “AHAs“
I AM A COACH
What are some of the layers of your life? How have those layers developed strengths to help you be who you are today?