If there is one life philosophy I subscribe to, it would be to count your blessings. And just when you think you've got nothing more to look back and be thankful for, start over and count them again. After all, our lives are made up of a series of events and experiences. Without each and every one of them, you simply wouldn't have the life you have, and in turn you wouldn’t be the person you are. Even the bad moments. Even the mistakes. The failings. Without them, you wouldn't be standing in the place you are today.
These past two weeks have been without a doubt the most humbling weeks of my life. It began swiftly as the month of November started and as I made it known in industry and beyond that I joined a new company, Fathom, as their Director of Business Development. The role is truly a once in a career opportunity, and was the result of the most powerful serendipity or possibly something slightly more divine. Whatever the forces may be that made the stars align for me to join on as part of this incredible team, it is truly a time to look back and be grateful for the things that got me to where I am today.
Of course, that starts with my family. Simply put, I could not be who I am and do the work I do if it wasn't for the constant support of my family. They are always there for me, whether it is to watch my beautiful little boy when I'm traveling, or to make me soup and force me to rest when I'm sick, or to cheer me on when I make strides in my career. There simply is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that your family loves you and has your back when you are out trying to take on the world.
The other largest contributor to my growth and success in the software industry has been the incredible people I have met along the way. I have been profoundly fortunate to meet and befriend so many inspiring colleagues, leaders, mentors, partners, and friends in my time in this industry, all of whom have driven me to chase after big, big things. Seeing so many of them these past few weeks at industry events really made me realize how many amazingrelationships I have been able to build with genuine, talented, intelligent, kind, and hard working individuals that have inspired me with their success, and in turn have drove me forward and supported me as I make my own. These relationships are an incredible blessing, and I am so excited to get to work even closer with these people as part of my role at Fathom.
However, as much as the past few weeks have been a time of celebration and excitement, they have also been a time of intense reflection. Those who know me best know that I tend to hyper critical of myself, and this definitely was the case over recent weeks. I like to believe that it comes from the fact I am always striving to be better myself, which I think is why in times of success, I often find myself looking backwards and reflecting on my past mistakes and failures. Although this seems a bit negative, for me I find it to be best to reflect on these things when the rest of my life is going well, because that's when you have the most energy and perspective to learn from your mistakes and think about how you will do things differently next time. Without a doubt, the past few years of my life have chalked been full of failures both big and small. There have been many bumps along the way, all of which seemed to be making their way into my thoughts over the past few weeks. Luckily for me though, someone came along to change my perspective.
While attending Intuit’s annual QB Connect conference in San Jose, I was fortunate enough able to see Oprah speak live. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a major Oprah fan, and she was without a doubt the speaker I was looking forward to hearing from most at the conference (although Jessica Alba was a very close second). I was expecting to enjoy her talk, and figured she would touch mostly on her professional career and that I was going to walk away with some new gleaming about success in business. What I wasn’t expecting was to hear her speak about things that were incredibly personal, and to walk away feeling like she might have been reading my mind over the past few weeks. Oprah spent her the majority of her time on stage talking about the many mistakes she made on her road to success. And with the stories of these mistakes she also offered up countless pieces of advice, many of which resonated with me in a way I still can't fully explain. However, there are two particular insights she shared that will stay with me forever.
The first was: Don't make useless mistakes. I can't describe how much this resonated with me, particularly because of where my head had been at leading up to the conference. I feel like my life so far has been a culmination of so many factors, some of them out of my control, but many of them within it. In those controlled moments, I've been able to make choices, some of which have been undeniably positive, others which have been incredibly foolish. It was after one of my worst life mistakes that I adopted what is now a running mantra in my life:
It is only a mistake if you did not learn from it.
Simply put, our mistakes are here to teach us something. To be kinder. To know our own limits. To be able to admit when we are wrong. To establish our values. To make us better people. It is our job to be aware enough to look back and take in those learnings, as humbling and hard as it can be. So long as you can do this, you are gaining something from those mistakes. I am just as much the product of my successes as I am a product of my failings, and so long as they are sharpening and teaching me, I wouldn't have it any other way.
The second was: Your life is speaking to you always in all ways. This was something I have really started to understand more in the past year or two, but it was pretty exciting to have my personal theories about life confirmed by a woman as successful as Oprah. I believe that our lives are always speaking to us, the problem is that we are often too busy, too caught up to stop what we are doing and listen. It is often this inability to slow down and absorb the messages that life is sending our way that causes for those messages to have to grow in magnitude, and what may have begun as a whisper or a reasonable, conversational volume in turn has to grow to a cacophony of noise that makes our lives come screeching to a halt. Simply put, we do not spend enough time listening to our own lives.
This past month and a half, I have taken a lot of time to listen to my life, in hopes that it might guide me where I needed to go. Some of the things I heard I already had acknowledged deep down, and other things that surfaced truly surprised me. I want more time with my family. I want to lead a team. I want to deepen my relationships in industry. I want to grow a company from the ground level. I want to build success for my colleagues and all those I come in contact with.
I came to realize that was only once I started to listen to these things in my life that I could begin to set forth intentions and actions to make them come true. I know the goals I am setting further are lofty and broad, and even looking at them written down now, I still find them a bit daunting. And yet somehow, it feels in the past month or so that by listening to and acknowledging all the things I want to create in my life, I have watched all the doors I need accomplish them swing wide open. So many things have fallen into place in my life in recent weeks, but it wasn’t until I started to listen that they did. All I needed to do was listen.
Now that the doors are open, there is a ton of work to be done. Exhausted as I am from two week's worth of travel, brand promotion, meetings, and events, I have never been more ecstatic and energized for the things that lay ahead. I am incredibly humbled by the journey and the people that have got to me where I am today, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.