8 Action Steps for Empowerment and Growth: Takeaways from SHE Summit 2015

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Last week, a group of amazing women – and a few stellar men! – came together in New York City for two days of empowerment at Claudia Chan’s Global S.H.E. Summit 2015.

S.H.E. Summit’s mission is to be the world’s most accessible women’s empowerment conference–exposing today’s leading role models, empowerment stories and strategies, women’s campaigns and supportive community to a global female audience who have the power to ripple affect change in their own lives, and for the betterment of other women and the world.”

Founder Claudia Chan has built a powerful community, and she and her team did a fantastic job of curating a blend of engaging, intriguing, and very quotable speakers with diverse experiences, stories, and strategies to share.

Of course, I had to give her a huggle to say thank you:

Do you ever attend a conference packed with so much good information and inspiration, leave with a notebook full of notes, and then never look at them again?! With so many new ideas and connections, it can be overwhelming to know where to start with implementation when we get back to real life and face a thousand other urgent and pressing work and life responsibilities.

So, here are my “Jen’s Notes”…a guide to my favorite takeaways with action steps for growth. Use them and let me know which resonate most with you…and what I missed that sparked something in you!

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Each of us has the potential to be a more powerful leader in our own life and work, whether we manage a team of hundreds or work for ourselves.  Here are 8 factors that kept emerging throughout the S.H.E. Summit conference – common threads and characteristics that true leaders have embraced and internalized – and some action steps that can help us get there.

 

1. AUTHENTICITY and SELF-AWARENESS

True leaders are comfortable in their own skin and follow an inner compass to share their unique talents and vision with the world. They understand their strengths and weaknesses. They maximize and communicate those strengths. They identify areas of improvement and get help or delegate.

Simply put, Be You.

“This is who I am, and that’s enough.” – Geena Rocero @GeenaRocero

“We live in a generation of ‘Likes’…we cannot determine who we are based on likes or negative comments. We are many things.” – Patricia Velasquez @WayuuPrincess

“When you honor who you are, what feels right and what doesn’t feel right, you start to stand for something.” – Ali Brown @AliBrown

“When you live with your whole heart, your presence becomes your present.” – Theresa Laurico @TheresaLaurico

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Action Step: Take time to reflect and meditate on your Inner Mentor. This is a vision of yourself 20 years in the future. What does she (or he) look like and value?” – Tara Mohr @TaraSophiaWrite it down. Stop listening to the stories around how you’re “supposed” to be and create your own.

It’s ok for boys to have dolls too!” – Nigel Barker @NigelBarker

Stay true to who you are. Challenge perceptions. Ask WHY NOT? – Kelly Lovell @KellyALovell

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2. PURPOSE and PASSION

Being in touch and aligned with our mission, passion and purpose – something bigger than ourselves – is what keeps us going through the rough patches. It provides a filter of intention through which we can pass every action and ask, does this advance my mission? Define your WHY.

“What are you passionate about? Make sure someone knows. Define it for people. Honor who you are. Speak with conviction and don’t apologize. Embrace leadership roles.” – Lisa Gersh @goop

Feelings of being “stuck” usually happen when we are not aligned with our passion and purpose. 

“What is your calling right now? Ask yourself: What am I feeling a persistent pain or frustration about? What vision do I see in my head? How can I enrich part of this world?” – Tara Mohr @TaraSophia

“You define yourself: Who am I? What do I stand for? What are my priorities? WHY do I want to achieve them?” – Marlene Gordon @Bacardi

“Is what I wake up to do every morning worth the only heartbeat I have?” – Theresa Laurico @TheresaLaurico

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Action Step: Ask yourself these two questions (via @TheresaLaurico):

1. What do I truly love?

2. What really pisses me off?

The answers will reveal your unique passion and purpose!

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3. PERSEVERANCE and DETERMINATION

There will be setbacks, or as I say “drops.” When learning to juggle or learning a new pattern, dropping is part of the process. The only way to make progress is to pick up the ball and keep going. When we learn from the drops and figure out what went wrong, we can make adjustments for the next attempt.

Embrace the fact that you will struggle…the struggle leads to success. Always ask why people say ‘no’ to your proposals – the information you will learn from this question is invaluable!” – Jo Weidenmiller @JoWeidenmiller

“Anything that makes me nervous is a growth opportunity.” – Claudia Chan @ClaudiaChan

“When you listen to a ‘No’, you are giving someone else power over your life. That’s just their opinion. Go do your thing.” – Marlene Gordon

Success takes hard work and practice.

Build credibility over time and with experience.”Dr. Jen Welter @JWelter47

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Action Step: Look at a recent mistake, setback or challenge. What happened? What could have worked better and why? What can you learn from the process and modify for your next attempt? Write down 3 things you can tweak for a more desired outcome.

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4. FLEXIBILITY and FLUIDITY

Most of us will have several iterations of our career, and our life path will take many twists and turns. It’s important to be flexible and patient with ourselves as we discover that path to living our purpose…and have the self-confidence that we will figure it out with practice, hard work, and commitment.

In a purpose driven career, work and life are integrated – it’s a juggling act. Each of us must discover our own unique pattern or combination of priorities, and be agile enough to adjust that pattern as life changes and priorities shift.

“Life is stages and phases. Transition and find new routines.” – Tonya Lewis Lee @TLewisLee

“Allow yourself flexibility…Step into something that makes you excited to say, ‘Yes!’” – Ali Brown @AliBrown

“You WILL figure it out…if you’re passionate about it.” – Lisa Gersh

Be patient with yourself and understand that life takes practice.

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Action Step: Yes, it’s good to set goals, and yes, it’s unrealistic to assume that they won’t change as your move along your path!   Make a 5 year, 10 year, 20 year dream plan, and then acknowledge that things may go completely differently. You can’t go wrong if you act in alignment with your passion and purpose.

Oh, and LEARN TO JUGGLE. Yes, seriously.

 

5. SELF-CARE and BALANCE

Balance was a controversial word at S.H.E. Summit! Does it exist? Not in the way that many people think about it. Balance is not static. It is fluid and requires constant adjustments – an exercise in both focus and flexibility. Work-life integration may be a more accurate phrase, but really life is juggling. Jugglers can focus on one thing even in the midst of many moving parts. Balance begins with taking care of ourselves.

“The #1 challenge of building a sustainable venture is building a sustainable YOU.” – Rha Goddess @RhaGoddess

“Your body is a multi-million dollar machine to walk through this passion with. Take care of it. Take care of yourself first – physically, mentally, and spiritually. No guilt. Taking care of yourself makes your experience with everyone else around you better.” – Tonya Lewis Lee @TLewisLee

Be Present and don’t forget to smell the flowers…

Don’t live in Time Famine…live in Time Abundance!…Be present and foster meaningful connections….Don’t miss the moment! Allow your heart to come alive in a moment shared between you and another human being. The world can wait.” – Agapi Stassinopoulos @AgapiSays

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Action Step: Create a morning routine that allows you to put yourself and your most important priorities for the day first, (a few minutes of meditation, movement, journaling, planning, etc.) before checking in with the outside world. Practice it each day until it becomes habit. Set boundaries…don’t start the morning with your cell phone and email!

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6. SELF-CONFIDENCE and BOLDNESS

“Do the thing – and do it every day – that scares you beyond recognition. Take BOLD action.” – Kathy Caprino @KathyCaprino

Kathy’s formula for Self-Confidence:

  1. Step back for an empowered perspective
  2. Let go of thinking patterns and behaviors that keep you stuck
  3. Say YES to your most burning desire
  4. Try it on
  5. Create it SMART with help and accountability

“Don’t wait on confidence. Act even in self-doubt…” – Tara Mohr @TaraSophia

Don’t let self-doubt paralyze you, but let it be motivation to ACT. Courage is not lack of fear, but acting in spite of fear. Set small goals, accomplish them, and celebrate.” – Sharon Lechter @SharonLechter

“Imperfection is perfection! Stop the comparison game and the ‘caring-what-other-people-think’ game.” – Claudia Chan – @ClaudiaChan

“What do I want to do rather than what’s being offered?…Be proactive rather than reactive.” – Susan Lyne @SMLyne

“Don’t just take what you can get…Create exactly what you want!”…Show up with confidence and let people know what you want.” – Marlene Gordon

Be a Superhero…start a movement!

“When we see women differently, we see the world differently.” – Tania Katan @TaniaKatan

“A movement is action…a decision we each make when we decide it’s up to us.” – Tonya Surman – @TonyaSurman

“We teach girls to code so that they have the self-confidence to do whatever they want.” – Reshma Saujani @ReshmaSaujani

The #1 reason women don’t pursue their own business is a lack of self-confidence. The antidote: Take Action. Find a Mentor.

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Action Step: Find a mentor, advisor or coach. Reach out to colleagues, family, friends for recommendations. A mentor can help you identify priorities and map out a bold plan of action.  Limit time spent with fearful, negative people. They are holding you back. 

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7. COLLABORATION and COMMUNITY

Collaborate to Accelerate. We can accomplish more when we work together. Build up a team to cultivate the greatest potential. We all have unique gifts.

“The speed to market is enhanced through collaboration.” – Sharon Lechter @SharonLechter

“Leverage your natural talents and help others you partner with to find their gifts.” – Kathy Caprino @KathyCaprino

Serve others and be a role model to inspire the next generation.

“What you do is far less important than the value you create.” – Tiffany Dufu @TDufu

“You have a bigger purpose to serve as a channel to inspire others.” – Patricia Velasquez @WayuuPrincess

“Love is the answer. There’s enough anger out there. What can I do to help find solutions?” – Nigel Barker @NigelBarker

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Action Step: Form a mastermind group with colleagues. Tap into the collective knowledge and experience. Find a way to share your unique gifts to fill a need in your community.

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8. FINANCIAL HEALTH

It’s not about how much you make, but how much you spend and save. Holistic Financial Planning is about answering these 3 simple questions:

1. Where am I today?

2. Where do I want to go?

3. What action steps do I need to put in place to get there?

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Action Step: “Experiment with ‘Joy Based Spending’…For one month, write down everything you spend money on. Highlight what didn’t bring you joy and start to eliminate. You can get rid of more than you think!” – Manisha Thakor @ManishaThakor

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I’m not sure how the SHE Summit team will top this next year!…Well, actually…I do have a couple ideas for a juggling addition…what better visual metaphor for work-life integration?!…but for now…

I’ll close with thoughts from keynote speaker Deepak Chopra:

The world is a projection of our collective state of consciousness. We must embrace the Divine Feminine energy…and dream a new world into reality…a happier, healthier, more just, kind, nurturing world into being.”@DeepakChopra

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Leave a comment below about your favorite takeaway!

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