It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves – William Shakespeare
This is not the career I ordered! This was the name of the recent Women in HI Tech luncheon I attended. The name itself intrigued me and I was not disappointed! Our presenter was Caroline Dowd-Higgins and she told her story of starting out with a very fixed plan to be an opera singer. Several twists, turns, and careers later and Caroline is now a successful professional career coach and motivational speaker. This perfectly exemplifies Caroline’s belief that career paths and life paths are not linear.
Caroline asked the lunch attendees a series of thought-provoking questions. What would you do if you were not afraid? What gives you strength? What do you want? She encouraged the attendees to observe how men behave, to register how they enter a meeting and how they walk with purpose. Furthermore, Caroline recommended that we watch our language, particularly if somebody gives a compliment – learn to just say thank you.
We were reminded that it is okay to say no. Also to set realistic expectations for both family and colleagues. We should teach people how to treat us, surrounding ourselves with positive people. Caroline shared that positivity is infectious, however, so is negativity. Minimizing interactions with toxic, negative people is a practical step we can take to protect our day-to-day well-being.
I came away from the lunch energized and most definitely reassured that although my career path to date has been anything other than linear, that is okay! Things typically work out for a reason. I love my current role at netlogx, in which I have had to draw upon all of my previous work experience at one time or another. From my first job working in a shoe store and making the grand old sum of £1.95 an hour ($1.51) providing customer service to the great unwashed, to working in call centers managing international teams, to engaging and motivating apathetic teenagers on why they needed to learn a certain Spanish grammar point – looking back it was all for a reason! Before I moved to the USA a number of years ago, one of my best friends, Emily Clare Reid, shared the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, the last two lines in particular always stand out and bolster me whenever I may doubt my non-linear career path to date!
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley