I have been fortunate to have parents who never tell me I can’t do what I set out to do, in terms of my aspirations. My mother and father are also brutally honest, as well; telling me to be secure in my decision making and to be ready to face all obstacles head on. From a young age, my father begins to tell me, “Toughen up, baby girl, it’s a man’s world.” My mother would add on to those sentiments teaching me that you have to make whatever you have work for you – ideal or not; if you want to succeed, find a way. In hindsight, those lessons would be the most valuable to me as I ventured into my professional career as an engineer. Engineering is still a heavily male dominated field and as a female you must present yourself confidently even in the face of being questioned about your capabilities. I must admit the journey to being secure in my own professional voice is not one that happened easily and overnight. Very early in my career I presented information to a customer for my team and I knew the information well at least the night before. However, on presentation day I froze under pressure; somehow at the actual time I left more unanswered questions then I could answer. I felt embarrassed, like I would never recover from not knowing everything. Despite my self-doubts the customer understood some of the challenges my team faced because of delivery problems, and discovering all the answers would take an ongoing investigation. I had to toughen up, as my father would say; and, like my mother I had to use this situation that was not ideal to recognize areas, in presenting, in which I needed to improve. I am certainly a much better presenter now but it has taken time years of practice, making countless mistakes and receiving insightful feedback on my delivery. The school of life teaches that when life’s tough remember you are tougher in the face of adversity because of your relentless desire to succeed. Overall, not knowing all the answers is not so bad if by speaking up it leads to the discussions and actions that incite a powerful change.
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Awesome message – thanks for sharing!