I want to start this entry by saying “Hello, my name is Meaghen and I am an information junkie, an eternal optimist, and a believer in all things geared towards self examination and personal growth.” Truthfully I tire myself out on a regular basis with a drive towards pulling things apart and attempting to put them back together again so that they make sense (or not) in a new way. So, it was with great enthusiasm and expectation that I entered the Telus Convention Centre this Monday morning to soak up the wisdom of the amazing speakers at The Art of Leadership for Women. I immersed myself in the shared energy of women seeking knowledge, connection and growth and as I settled in I would come to realize that my learning would have as much to do with the women “looking up” at the stage as it did with the possibility of new knowledge shared by the incredible line up of speakers. Don’t get me wrong, the speakers were inspiring and thought provoking. I have a notebook filled with messages surrounded with arrows, circles, stars…all the things to signal “THIS IS IMPORTANT…COME BACK AND READ THIS” there were many edge of my seat, flutter in my gut moments as I pulled new gems of wisdom from each of the speakers. Truthfully, my notes are completely raw, they are like dropped threads across sixteen pages of a tattered notebook, one that I carry with me everywhere, and I am eager to go back to them and see how they weave together. However, this reflection isn’t about anything specific shared at the conference – rather it’s about what I am thinking about as “a new kind of hustle.”
I attended the conference with a diverse group of women and as we shared observations in coffee and bathroom lines I would have to say that the most common comment at the end of it all was “well, it isn’t really new information but it really affirms what I believe to be true.” I get it, and I admire the passion and drive towards new knowledge and ideas. I handed over power to each of those speakers to light a fire under me and if I am to be completely honest, my response was very much the same… I was satisfied at the end…or at least I really wanted to be. So, I’ve spent the past 24 hours asking myself “what was I expecting?” Perhaps more accurately, what were WE expecting? Have we fallen into the trap of “we’ve heard it all before” and “this is nothing new, just a new way to say it” out of complacency or have we entered into a whole new territory where what we desire…what we want, is nothing short of extraordinary?
I’m curious – is chasing the extraordinary a new kind of hustle?
I have come at this question from a few different angles and I was only satisfied when I moved through the “what was I expecting” to the “what did I really experience” where I stumbled upon my answer. Here is what I think is extraordinary. Fifteen hundred women gathering to explore leadership. Friendship, shared vision, and enthusiasm that started at 7 a.m. with an exit from a house that rivalled any contestant called up to contestants row on The Price is Right (Lisa, you know who I am talking about). Sitting alongside a mentor and a colleague who I know “has my back” and listening to messages that both affirmed my belief system as well as challenged me. Watching each of the women take the stage to share their story, and imagining the courage it would take to address 1500 women and that they were brave and afraid at the same time, embodying vulnerability. Hearing the shaking voice of a 23 year old asking a panel of female leaders how she can assert herself when she is working for men who are her father’s age. And I could go on…and on…and on…
I’ve come to realize that the ordinary moments, the bids for connection with people in my life I want to learn from, the times my buttons are pushed and I have to tap into a higher self…these are my favourite moments. And…if you are reading this and thinking “well of course, we’ve always known this” – I hear you but I also ask that you hear me. Today, in this moment, in my skin, and in the context of my life I am learning this as I go. It may be familiar to you, you may know what is going to happen next, but I want to figure it out as I go along, and I want to share it with others. This is how I make my meaning. Tonight, I have decided that my ordinary, familiar, perhaps over examined path is something I am not willing to give up in an attempt to chase the extraordinary.
Once again, I have tired myself (and likely some of you) out! Thanks for travelling with me.