What happens when a leader begins to look within herself and is willing to be humble? At True Life Coaching we love hearing stories of people who choose to live intentionally. In our last newsletter we featured Jeri Epperson and her journey of growth from a young businesswoman to a brilliant, savvy leader! We are privileged to know Jeri and watch her life!
I first met Shandel about ten years ago when I was working for a hay exporting company in Central Washington. We had a team of six unique and strong personalities that often worked eight hours a day in a room with no windows, just computers and white boards and our personalities working on process improvement in our SCM database. Needless to say we needed a coach to help us play well together and appreciate and capitalize on our differences. Enter Shandel.
We met monthly with her for off-sites that I remember to be fun and frustrating, enlightening and irritating, brilliant and painful. Why frustrating, irritating, and painful? Because I was 23 and thought I knew everything already. Since age ten I had been sitting in on my mom’s meeting with executives from Chrysler, Praxair, and British Airways. I had professionalism down — right? Shandel thought no, and she was right of course.
Everything she was telling me to do was dead on. She was telling me to listen more, to see things as they were and to stop filtering everything I heard and saw through my own story, and to let go of thinking I am right and have all the answers. But my 23-year-old heart refused to listen. I needed to still be the “bright for my young age” girl I had been for so long. How could I be that if I had to admit I didn’t have all the answers?
Fast forward a few years after I had left that job, feeling fully entitled and petulant, to take on a role where I began to be on the other side of management in HR — not to mention the other side of 30 and having to deal with 23-year-olds who were doing all the same things I had been doing. Acting entitled, refusing to listen, and generally making me roll my eyes until I thought they would fall out. And for every one of these interactions a light bulb would go off over my head and I would see something in myself that needed to change.
Then one day while looking for some leadership training for one of my colleagues I saw in Shandel’s newsletter an ad for the Women’s Leadership Summit (now known as LEXI). I signed up and have been on exponential growth mode ever since. All the humility I was gaining, dealing with younger versions of myself, also wracked my confidence. What else didn’t I know? But it was Shandel’s gig and I KNEW it was going to be good. And boy was it ever good. Beyond the wisdom and the actual learning that took place, what I found to be most valuable was seeing women who really seemed to have it together telling stories of how they felt just like me but took the risk, challenged themselves to grow, and take a good long look at what they were and what they wanted to be and took action to get there. I realized I don’t have to have all the answers or be perfect all the time. But I do have to keep learning about myself, I do have to keep listening, and I do have to respect the wisdom around me.
I am booked for LEXI Seattle in May and have the very good fortune of having TLC coach Mary Beth King coming to facilitate our staff retreat in March. I get so excited for these opportunities now because I can’t wait to be a better me. Every time I get the chance to be around a Mary Beth or Shandel — or my own smart savvy mother who is my original and ongoing inspiration — I try to soak up everything they have to give. Wouldn’t you know it, I don’t feel the frustrating, irritating or painful anymore — just fun, brilliant, and enlightening!
- Jeri Epperson