Achieving Success With Meaning and Impact: Reflections on a Journey to Success and Purpose

One of my mottos is, “There’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.” On my journey to Corporate America’s C-Suite– my dream since I was at Hampton University — I’ve intentionally and methodically climbed those steps. Having worked for some of the world’s largest companies and now the world’s biggest children’s healthcare charity, I realize there are principles to help you on the path up.
Cultivate a Wide Network
Maintain a diverse network of mentors, sponsors and advocates. To me, that means developing relationships with people who both reflect Corporate America and my BIPOC world. One of my most meaningful mentors was a white male who provided insights distinct from the experiences of women of color. I needed that plurality of perspectives to know how to navigate most effectively. My network could never be too big.
Stay Visible
I’m an introvert, but knew that to grow professionally, I needed to stretch my comfort level and raise my hand to new opportunities’. I became known for stepping into high-profile projects. My confidence grew with each experience. Eventually, I looked forward to being on the agenda and providing insights only I could bring to the table.
Initiate, Execute and Deliver Results
My definition of success includes solving for unrealized needs to advance the company’s goals. Identifying opportunities is step one. Then, it’s critical to execute your solution plan. Finally, you need to deliver effective results. Once you are known for accomplishing all three steps, your reputation builds. It happened to me. Success at a smaller level begot successes in higher level projects.
Practice Resiliency
As a Black woman there were hurdles to overcome, including unconscious bias and negative assumptions. Resiliency is essential. I’ve been in rooms where I felt like either a ceiling was hovering over me or someone else would say the same thing I did and get credit. I learned to be okay with this sometimes so long as project goals were achieved. I learned that self-doubt and societal expectations had no room in my headspace. Also, like everyone else, I’m human and make mistakes. I learned to quickly get up, brush myself off and get back out there. I wouldn’t let myself stop taking risks. More important was staying focused on the skills I had that were unique from others at the table.
Support Others
Becoming a career champion for others as you grow into leadership roles is extremely rewarding. Sometimes the best way to move beyond your own setbacks is to invest in others. They benefit, but so do you! Furthermore – and this you must be prepared for – is that at some point your success will not be entirely in your control; you’ll have too much responsibility. Those whom you have supported can be part of your support network.
Do Something That Drives Purpose
I’ve worked for some of the world’s largest companies – GE, Lockheed Martin, J&J, McKesson. At each, I developed a unique skill set. When I decided to join ALSAC, I felt I had everything it took to be successful. But I wanted my success to also have personal meaning. Cancer was in my family, mainly adult cancer. But I remember visiting one of McKesson’s children’s cancer centers. I could hear children crying and it felt like tears of pain. It touched me deeply, and I thought, “How can I get closer to that?” Then, I was presenting at a sales meeting and said, “In life, I want to make sure I’m always doing something that’s giving to others, supports the community, drives purpose.” The most vulnerable human beings are children. So, when the ALSAC opportunity presented itself, I was ready. I saw everything they have done to help realize a world in which no child dies in the dawn of life.
So here I am, reaffirming my commitment to the principles I’ve outlined. I’m using my skills and helping save children’s lives. There’s nothing I’m more passionate about.
0 comment

You may also like