We had some outstanding speakers at our recent lunch programs. Each provided valuable takeaways for professional and personal sanity and advancement…
The Art of Pausing – February program
Many of us could see ourselves when Judy Valente talked about starting her career as a driven overachiever. A reporter for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, she poured herself into her work in bureaus domestically and abroad. A book-related project led her to a monastery, where she gained some unexpected insight about herself and life, and the inspiration to write her first book, the critically acclaimed “Atchison Blue.”
She went to the Mount. St. Scholastica monastery prepared to teach a course about poetry and the soul. Instead, as she notes, she found herself “… the student, taking lessons from the Benedictine sisters in the healing nature of silence, cultivating habits of mindful living and the freeing reality that conversion is a lifelong process.”
These and other insights also led to other books, including “ The Art of Pausing: Meditations for the Overworked and Overwhelmed.”
Among the key takeaways from her program: We often feel there’s too much to do to “take a break,” but we really will be better for ourselves, our jobs and other responsibilities if we do. A stained glass window on pruning and tending to vineyards produced a memorable analogy, ”Cut it back. It will grow stronger.” Life translation: “Cut back. You will grow stronger.”
She is still busy, speaking, writing and reporting for NPR and WGLT public radio in Bloomington-Normal, where she now lives. And her personal “work on balance” continues.
“I have the same struggles you do with work and the need to pull back. But it really is important, and truly makes us stronger, better and more effective.”
Leadership Lessons from the Field – April program
Marlene Dietz is an accomplished professional communicator and trainer, and entreprenuer. On April 12, she related her life and career experiences, and what she calls the “C’s” that flowed from them, of which communication is only one:
Cheerleader – Surround yourself with supportive people. Minimize the naysayers, or at least the impact they have on you.
Courage – Act in accordance with your beliefs despite what others may say. Pursue your goals and dreams whether others say they are achievable. No one else can define what you are capable of.
Confidence – That feeling of self-assurance. Seek additional education if you need it. Which ties into…
Competencies – We can become competent at anything.
Communication – It’s at it’s best when it’s more than 50-percent listening.
Chance – Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something that may not be part of your “plan.” Be flexible and open to signals and cues along the journey. The unexpected twists and turns can delight and inspire you.
Compassion – Empathy is a key ingredient to building rapport and relationships.
Some parting advice: “Define yourself in the moment, make the best choice you can…. Leadership is using your voice for good.”