What I wish someone would have told me…

Last week I returned to my alma mater The Ohio State University to lead the 3rd annual Women on Fire Day there with 100 young women.

The idea of such a day – where experienced women share wisdom and strategies with younger women — came from the students themselves.

It truly is one of the most rewarding and inspirational days of my year.

Here I am with this year’s panelists of wise women sharing their knowledge: Jordan Davis, Amy Marzluff, Cindy Monroe and Dr. Gladys Gibbs

My keynote talk this time was “What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me In College.”

The incredible team who made our Women on Fire day possible: Meredith Schoenberger, Yvonne Dulaney, Ashley Sinram, Tracy Stuck, Molly Pierano, Chelsea Burrell and Neha Patel (Photo by Eve Esch)

I can imagine that you have some powerful thoughts on this subject as well. Here are a few that I shared with OSU students. Did you wish for any of these yourself?

I wish someone would have told me early on that:

You are the CEO of your life

No matter what you do for a living or your position – whether you are married, widowed, divorced or single and whether you work, stay at home with kids or both — you are in charge of your life.

You are responsible for creating your own destiny.

I was in my mid-30s before I learned and accepted that I am the CEO of my life. When I did, a peace and calm came over me.

I realized I wasn’t a victim of circumstances.  If I wasn’t happy or didn’t like something, I had the power to change it!

Your heart will get broken but you will survive

My early boyfriend heartbreaks and girlfriend betrayals were utterly devastating but nothing like the grief from loss of loved ones and divorce that I later experienced over the years.

Sometimes it felt I would die right along with the loss that had occurred. Eventually, I learned that I could survive from loss — and even thrive.

And often loss or heartbreak meant not the ending of something but the beginning of something new – and even even sometimes something better.

Who you are in this world – and what you stand for — is way more important than the way you look

Countless times I held myself back because I thought I was too fat or didn’t look right or didn’t have the right clothes.

What a waste of energy! It is truly my only regret in life.

I was in my late 30s before I owned who I was in the world and embraced my qualities and why I was here:  to help people express their gifts, strengths and talents.

The more I focused on who I was and how I could help others, the less it mattered how I looked or dressed or whether someone liked me or not.

One of my favorite quotes on this subject came from actress Rashida Jones who said:

You can’t really invest in your looks as your only thing because it’s a depreciating asset. It’s like putting money into a stock that is going down. Invest in your brain, invest in your talent; those things can appreciate and they get better as you get older.”

Find and surround yourself with the greatest people you can to work with and learn from

Pay attention to the quality of people you associate yourself with.

Small-minded people talk about other people; big vision people talk about making the world a better place. Hang with big vision people.

Don’t ever think that someone is too big for you to meet or get to know or even work for.  Somebody has to take those jobs in the White House, including being the President!

Don’t ever compare yourself to anyone else

Unhappy people compare themselves to others. Happy people compare themselves to the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Comparing yourself is always a losing battle. Always someone wealthier, smarter, prettier, more accomplished and with better behaved children!

Stay in your own lane and stay focused on your own goals and dreams.

Do not ever let anyone hijack your dreams

When I was a little girl, I poured over National Geographic magazines and dreamed of going to Antarctica.

As an adult, I decided to make my dream come true.  I saved and studied and planned for my trip to Antarctica.

And, here’s the response I received from most people:  “Why go there? Wouldn’t you rather go to Australia? Why would you pay to be cold?”

This is my dream! I told them.  Go focus on your dreams!

Your job is to stay true to your dreams.

Your dreams are nobody’s business but yours. Never let anyone take them away!

So as you look back to the time you were 18-22, and venturing out into the world to make a difference, what do you wish someone would have told you?

Share your comments below. I’d love to hear!


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Key to your success?

Women on Fire held its first gathering in New York City exactly 10 years ago this month. The feeling in the room that night was magical when everyone shared what they were “on fire” about, others listened and then cheered them on.

Have you told someone –or many someones — your greatest dreams and passions, had them really listen to you, and then celebrate you? It’s the best feeling ever!

Support for your dreams and goals is as elemental to your success as sunshine is to earth’s survival.

*This week’s Pinspiration*

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Surround yourself with those that lift you higher- Women on Fire

Since that first Women on Fire gathering in 2003, thousands of women — — no matter whether we were in a tea room or a ballroom — have participated in Women on Fire events and been inspired from the love and support given and received when they share their highest hopes.

What a joy to return to my alma mater Ohio State to conduct a Women on Fire Day with juniors, seniors, staff and mentors cheering each other on.

Most recently at The Ohio State University in Columbus, nearly 100 women participated in a Women on Fire Day to learn just how good it feels — and important it is — to share your truth and dreams and receive support for it.

And the women that day were additionally supported by seasoned Women on Fire who served as panelists: Mary Kay Purdy, Gail Forest, Liz Lessner and Nancy Kramer.

A co-author in our upcoming Women on Fire book, Mary Kay Purdy shares her life lessons and encouragement with Ohio State students.

These experienced, successful and generous women told their ups and downs over their long careers. They shared from their hearts to benefit Ohio State’s young women and to inspire and support them as they embark on their own journeys in the world.

In the center, Tracy Stuck, a Women on Fire member and Ohio State’s assistant vice president for Student Life, is an amazing mentor and supporter of many young men’s and women’s careers and lives.

Where are you right now in receiving enough support to see your dreams through? Who is there for you?

And, equally important …

How are you doing in cheering on other women with their goals? Do you?

One of the reasons women tell me they often don’t share their enthusiasm for their dreams — or even speak them out loud — is because they are teased, criticized, ridiculed, met with blank stares or jealousy.

There is no light of day for dreams kept under a bushel basket!

So, how can we become better cheerleaders of our own dreams and other women’s dreams, too?

Receiving and giving support is a balance like a teeter totter.  Sometimes you give more, and other times you receive more, but the give and take of support  provides just the lift you need to make your own endeavors successful.

Here I am with Women on Fire member Gail Forest of Atlanta, a role model for Ohio State students with her down-to-earth discussion of her own success and longing for dreams to come!

So this week, make a list of what you need support for and who might be able to help you.  And, on another list, think of one woman in your life you’d like to give some support to.  It may be as simple as sending her an email, connecting or referring someone to her who could help her, giving her some praise on Facebook.

You never know what your “you go, girl” might do for her!

Which list is easier for you? 🙂 Many women (me included!) say it’s much easier to help someone else rather than to ask for support for themselves.

Awareness, it is said, is 90% of the problem solved.  So now that we are all aware of the role support plays in our success, let’s climb onto that teeter totter and create some balance of support!

A huge shout-out and my personal thanks to Ohio State student and photographer Katie Riccardella for all of the photos today! Especially the one above which captured the joy I felt during Women on Fire Day at Ohio State.  If photography is your big dream, Katie, you are already rocking it!

Have a phenomenal week.  I’ll see you later this week with our latest Book To Live By for October and a brand-new She’s A Woman on Fire! feature. I can hardly wait to share with you.