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  • Writer's picturekarenlilly106

The Path to Purpose

I went to teachers college determined I would be a teacher. I loved teaching and ​I just always thought, that is what I would be, a teacher. One thing led to another and I ended up working in a Bank.​ Starting out, I had no idea that my skills would transfer to a corporate career, ​but slowly the dream of being a high school teacher was a distant memory. I moved around ​within the organization, took risks and demonstrated agility. Every ​few years, I changed roles​ or departments, I was ​earning a good ​income, gaining experience and skills that I loved: ​sounds like a dream, right? The reality is, I wasn't happy and something felt “off”.

When I had my first baby everyone said I would change, as my priorities shifted. I would “relax” or “mellow" from the driven, ambitious and GET SHIT DONE persona they knew me to be. I am honest, direct, upfront and authentic (in the true meaning of the word, not in a, ​“authenticity is a key leadership skill", so ALL must now say they are authentic ​kinda way).​ ​I mean what I say. I believe in building trust and being able to have tough conversations. I believe in developing people ​with the goal that they might actually be MY boss one day. I am not threatened by talented people, but rather I understand that people have strengths that compliment my weaknesses. I am passionate about what is right and I stand up for my values, ​which I won't compromise for the sake of politics​ or career advancement. I don't believe in blindly following ​leaders, especially when the​ir leadership skills are lacking and leave me feeling like ​my integrity or the greater “good” is at risk. I stand up for myself and most of all, for others. I don't​ believe diversity should be a numbers game but rather the cultural foundation upon which a company stands. So did becoming a mother change me? Did I become more “​mellow”? Well, I did change, but I did not mellow. I still had the same strong convictions as I did before, but now, even more so. I DID change, but work didn’t.

It was like time had stood still, and one year later I was returning to the exact same issues, the same projects that hadn’t launched, the same conversations. Suddenly, none of it felt important anymore. It seemed trivial and frustrating. I had the Monday blues, I would celebrate Wednesday hump day and Thursday “mini Friday”. What was I doing? Who was I becoming? I started to sit back and for the first time thought about what I really wanted to do, what I loved. But, like most people with a young family, having a stable pay cheque overruled all else.​There was no time to focus on my purpose, or what made me “happy” when ​I had a family to feed. I was getting fatigued. Then, just over a year after returning to work I was pregnant again and after 2 years of being back at work, I was on maternity leave again. This time I was more determined than ever to figure out what I wanted, what my purpose was.​There's nothing like a few curve balls when you're looking to discover what really matters to you. This leave, I had a newborn that went to the NICU for 7 days, and then wouldn’t latch. My father got very sick and passed away, and I suffered from postpartum. Then at 8 months my son wasn’t hitting his developmental milestones. These things make you reflect.

So I looked at the facts: I love talent. Meeting talent, growing talent, moving talent. I love coaching. Helping people determine what it is that they really want to do, helping them explore careers, helping them realize their purpose. I love facilitation and training, learning and development (the teaching never really left me) and connecting it all together. I​ also love philanthropy and giving back to worthwhile causes. And most of all I LOVE my family and having the flexibility to volunteer at their schools, drop them off, pick them up and eat dinner with them. They are my priority. The more I reflected, the more I realized that my purpose, and who I was, was not tied to what I was doing. I wasn’t learning anymore, I wasn’t passionate anymore and I wasn't feeling the fire.

So I started to think more about what brings me energy and I reflected on what makes me feel alive. What got me most excited was: coaching, facilitating teams to become more effective, learning, leadership and talent management. Ironically, these were all things I had also jotted down in a journal in 2016. So, I decided to figure out how to make this happen. I journalled, put a plan together and started on my journey.

Now I am doing what I LOVE, something that puts a fire in my belly and has been on my mind for years. It took a lot of hard work to get here, and it was a long process to realize my purpose, but now that I have, I am once again alive.

What is your Purpose? It is time to find out!

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