This week, I received an award from Digital Marketers for their Digital Women 2022 edition. In the face of it, it does not look like there is much more to write about. Yet, I did not only receive an award, but I also embraced it. Now that was certainly a first.
Going back to 2014
Many years ago, I received a Financial News Award for their inaugural FN Extra Mile Top 40. It was dedicated to finance professionals that were doing work outside their area and in their communities. Made sense. And I remember the event as if it was today. I cursed Hubby B for being late and leaving me on my own. So I stood silently, close enough to the people chatting making it look like I was part of a group but not too close that people could ask questions (networking was never my strength). And I left as soon as the main presentation was over. I kept the newspaper article and that was it.
A different perspective
Just over a year ago, I received THE promotion. The story goes that I made several attempts to sabotage it, probably so I did not have to feel failure if it did not work out. But the day came and as people filled me with congratulations I took in what it really meant. It was pretty dam* special. Duh!
Yes, I know it sounds obvious. I always knew that it was quite special. What I would always fail to recognise is how it made me special, Until that day, I shook that away, making myself the everyday person, reinforcing that I was just like everyone else. Until that day I could see that, for a moment, I wasn’t. Specially as a woman in finance. And with that day came the realisation I could no longer maintain the ‘no big deal’ story. Because by maintaining it, I was actually doing a disservice to all the women I hope come after me. By making it look trivial, I was not really normalising it as I hoped. Instead, I was lying. Because it was hard and it was special. And that did not make me an arrogant bit**.
Gosh I am using more asterisks today than in the last year.
Owning the award
I thought of walking out of my desk as in any normal day. But in a moment of clarity, I decided to put some make-up and kind of do something with my hair. I had put together a few thoughts on the questions for the panel, naturally written and printed, and headed off to what I assumed would be another dreadful experience. At least Marta was there to chaperone me. We chatted and avoided networking and I still felt quite out of place. And then suddenly I didn’t.
As I got called into the panel between the other amazing women, I finally did not hesitate. I left my notes behind, in the hope I would still remember what I had written only a few moments earlier. I heard my story being introduced with pride. And I let myself be impressed and humbled by everyone else’s story, but not diminished. I owned it.
Being proud is for bad people
As I sat there and we had a great conversation about all the women on the panel, I felt pride. Just a glimpse don’t worry, so I don’t suddenly become a bad person! Yes, I think deep down I associate pride with arrogance. Which is weird, as I feel quite proud of my children but I am not at all arrogant about thinking they are above anyone else (except if it is the girl in school trying to prevent Little Girl C from having other friends and threatening to not have her as main character of her fictional book). I digress.
Indeed, I have learnt in baby steps over the last couple of months that feeling proud can be quite healthy. And in that moment amongst women across walks of life, I was proud to be there, and more than that, I was proud of being proud. That was my big achievement.
Inspired and Inspiring
It was only when I got home that I found out the category for my award. In my defence, it did not say anywhere in the pictures and it was not announced at the event. I was there for inspiration. Only when I got the small certificate out of my massive goody bag (yuhu) and saw my name with the category written on it. I showed it off to Little Girl C. She thought it was cool but I realised later I am not sure she knows the meaning of the word. She did however think all the gifts I got meant it had to be a great thing. Focus on what is important right?
I joke about it, but in the end, it would have been difficult to find myself a category that would make me happier. As I have been reflecting on my legacy, on what I try to achieve day to day, that is to touch the life of those I cross paths with. Inspiration matters to me. Not to be confused with admiration.
One of the questions we had was to reflect about someone that inspired me. I did have to think deeply about the different people that have touched my life. That just made me embrace even more the power of inspiring others. Showing the possibility. And that is precisely what that panel of women did. Each had a story of opportunity, possibility, great effort and success. I left inspired by the possibilities for those that come after us.
A look forward
The last question of the panel was a sentence to describe female entrepreneurship. As a social entrepreneur, I know change is key. However, what I came to find out in recent years as I have been involved in female entrepreneurship, is how much change is the driver for these businesses. Women will tend to put their hard work into changing problems they observe in their own world and no one else is doing anything about. There is certainly a prevalence of impact businesses within the female entrepreneur space and I had the pleasure to meet quite a few through the podcast. All of them started with that in mind:
Be the change you want to see in the world
Before I depart, I thought I would share someone else’s sentence. Because, in the end, life is about inspiring and being inspired.