This is my boardroom
In my boardroom, I am free to do what I love and, as a result, I produce my best work. This place of joy is my definition of success. It’s not a big corner office with fancy furniture but, to me, it’s much more distinguished and powerful than that. It’s a place where big ideas flow, creativity thrives and personal growth happens. It’s a long way from where I grew up.
As a child, my mother’s definition of success was straightforward. She believed that success was based on earning a top-floor corner office with a big salary and a beautiful ocean view. Her view was linear and based on perception. But, at the time, it was all I knew and I strived to achieve it. I wanted to make my mother happy.
After graduating from college, I started working my way up the corporate communications ladder. I was on my way, sitting with my colleagues around a big boardroom table sharing ideas, planning strategies and executing them. I learned a lot, but I never earned the corner office. Not because of the quality of my work (or lack thereof) but because I realized, during the grind to the top, that I wasn’t doing what I love. The corner office wasn’t the end game. Happiness was my goal. I wanted to make myself happy.
So, I asked myself what I enjoy doing most for me and for others. The answers were varied:
- I like helping people to feel good about themselves.
- I like helping people to feel comfortable.
- I like connecting with people through stories.
Even though the answers were different, there was a common thread between them: connecting with people. Thanks to the grind, I discovered that I love connecting with people and I should be doing more of it.
I started focusing on ways in which I could connect with people and honour this true desire. I became a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society. I joined a committee of passionate people who raise funds to help people whose lives have been affected by cancer. I also began writing and sharing personal stories with people in an effort to connect with others and build a supportive community. For children, I began designing art projects and working in classrooms to help encourage creative thinking and freedom of expression. I immersed myself in work that makes me happy.
Today, I continue doing this work and I measure my personal success by my level of happiness. I am a mother of two and I tell my children that happiness is the ultimate goal – the big win – and that, in my experience, a rise to the top happens in moments of personal growth. I view success as having stability over status.
My kids often join me in my boardroom. We sit on the floor surrounded by questions and creativity. Sometimes we’re on the top floor of a building, sometimes we’re on our living room floor. We sit with stories, sharpies, paint, and people. My beautiful view is the group of individuals who share the space with me.
Ask yourself what you love to do for yourself and for others. Make a list. Find the common thread. Then, picture yourself in your new boardroom and begin mapping out your process.