Episode 34: Winning with Authenticity
I've been trying to find the words to describe the last 90 days. In fact, I've not been writing or recording because simply, I didn't have the words. After having a brief moment of stillness this weekend, I've been able to reflect on the elements of the last 90 days. For those of you who are listening to the View 112 Podcast for the first time, welcome and thank you. If you've been listening for a while and thought I was finished with this work, well I'm back. Today, I will share how authenticity played a role in my professional promotion and relocation to a new city here on the View 112 Podcast.
Hello! Today is Sunday May 20th and welcome back to the View 112 Podcast. I've been quite a busy lady! I'm not going to bore you by rehashing too many details all in this one episode. Here is a brief summary: At the top of the year, I celebrated my 40th birthday in Mexico. Upon returning, I was informed of an opportunity to interview for a professional promotion with the caveat that the role would be in Norfolk, VA about 3-4 hours south of the Washington Metropolitan Area. After several interviews spanning over 2 months or so, I got my offer then spent April and half of May traveling and transitioning into my new role. How has it been? Both thrilling and exhausting. Since this podcast is focused on self development, books and business, I have many elements to share how I got through this first half of 2018 as I prepared to interview, transition, and now start a new life and work in a different city. With this episode, I'll start with the value of authenticity. Here's some thoughts:
1. Know Your Story and Master How to Tell It. Thank God for this podcast! I've expressed before, the View 112 Podcast helps me just as much as others. Many of the episodes encourage me, focus me, allow me to reflect on successes and failures. One tip I've shared often is to practice telling your story repeatedly. Honestly, without intent, this podcast has allowed me to hone in on my story and how to tell it. During the last 4 months, I've told my story a lot. By story, I don't mean summarizing what's already on my resume. When I tell my story, I weave in how my personal values have shaped my professional experiences and vice versa. Everyone from the people I interviewed with at various stages in the process, to people on my new team, and the new group of elevated peers I've joined all want to know who Jeanita is as a person and as a leader. I've had to tell the narrative of Jeanita Morris in different formats including one on one interviews, to larger group introductions, to a format as large as town hall. I've shared myself in the form of interview questions, speeches, and written communication. Nearly 100 percent of the time, my reputation proceeded me in mostly a great way, but there were still ideals, values, and details about myself that I needed to define or clarify at best. This is where authenticity plays a huge role. During an interview process and joining a new team of course everyone wants to know examples of your success but people will also ask you in a variety of ways to expose short comings. One quick example: A topic I have always had a level of discomfort about is my education. Failing my senior thesis in college happened almost 20 years ago and it is still with me. Since where I went to college is on my resume, this has come up in most interviews. Since this position is in the next city over from Hampton University, the thought was since I was alumni, I would have great connection to this community and the team. What people don't know is for years, I associated this area with one of the biggest failures of my life. This area always reminded me of that failure. Oddly enough, I am absolutely convinced that I would not be a successful as I am today if I had not had that failure. Up until attending Hampton University, everything I'd gotten in life came very easy for me. I was lazy. That failure gave me the biggest motivation to never fail like that again. The work ethic that I'm so proud of came out of failing my thesis senior year so close to graduating. I am very clear on why that makes me go as hard as I do. Its important to know why you are the way you are. Attending Hampton University is apart of my life that I'm extremely proud of. When I left this area 18 years ago, I didn't even know I could have a career as amazing as the one I've had. There are a lot of students on my team (like me), people with advanced degrees and people with no formal higher level of education at all. Because of my experiences, I am able to lead them all in various ways to do their best work. But being vulnerable and honest about it gives me more power and makes me more relatable. Being authentic is how I will really connect with this community and team. I'm glad I've taken the time and done the work to understand these things about myself long before an interview process as I've made this apart of my regular development.
2. Be Humble, but Let. Them. Know. I've been very clear throughout the last 90 days, I am so grateful for this opportunity! While celebrating 40 in Mexico, my mind would have not be able to fathom what has come to pass starting from the moment I got back home. I've had the incredible privilege to meet and connect with people I've admired my entire career. Its not lost on me, some of the rooms I've been in or tables I've sat down to contribute thoughts, ideas, strategies with some of the most dynamic people in the world. I've had many moments alone this year in which I've actually said out loud: I can't believe that happened. I've also been in moments in which I've thought, I can't believe this is happening and I'm here to see it! All that being said, I still am clear on who I am and my own capabilities. One thing that was important to me was to not play too much to the room or person in front of me during my interview process. What I mean by this is, I needed each person or group I've met with to have a clear understanding of who I actually am as a person and leader, and not play to who I think they were hoping to meet. Consistency in every interaction was an important element. Being authentic every step of the way has been great because now that I have the job, I don't have to change who I am. I've been clear about it all along. Also I'm not here to conform, I'm here to elevate, change, challenge, and PRODUCE excellence through collaboration. What's crazy is last April I recorded Episode 10 of this podcast and titled it Rookie Season. One of my points was to remember you're in the room for a reason. Hard work, being real about who I am, and sharing my story got me in this position. I now have to deliver. After my first meeting with my new peer group, I've received a positive evaluation from my boss about my level of contribution. He was impressed. I let him know that I am not going to waste time on the "I'm new here" or "I'm still in training" mindset. No doubt, I'll make mistakes and I will have questions. My peers and support system will help me. I know how valuable this group is, trust me. Still, understand my experience, perspective, talents and abilities are here to increase that value.
3. Make Sure Your Squad is GOALS. If your squad is not painfully honest AND cheering you on, then time for a new team. I am #BLESSED when it comes to my support system. I think I'm a relatively confident person. I am also this person: I ask for everyone's opinion. When this new opportunity presented itself, my immediate answer was no. I understood the role was hot, but I had my sights set on something slightly different. Plus I didn't want to move. True to form, I asked everyone from my parents, other family, close friends and mentors. All of which in one way or another held a mirror up to me and asked the questions the I didn't want to answer. Why not? Why am I playing small? Why am I playing comfortable? Did I pray about it? Was I afraid and of what? Why was I reading about and talking about change, development, and evolving but passing up on the opportunity to do so? it was my support system that called me to really think about this opportunity and about myself. The truth was, I was playing it safe and comfortable. I was scared to move to a place where I didn't know anyone or did not have a safety net. People were like I was making Norfolk sound like I was moving to China, across the world instead of 4 hours south and in the same state no less. Once I proceeded to move forward throughout the interview process, my squad encouraged me and celebrated every win that moved me to the next conversation until I got the offer. My people were already claiming it for me, helping me look online for spots to live and places to eat, hang, exercise, worship, you name it. The helped me with this transition in incredible ways including thinking through my offer and moving plans. While I was still stressed and uncertain during the process, they all boosted me with the confidence I needed and reminded me of who I was. Some of my squad is family that I've been blessed with while others were mentors and colleagues that I curated to be around me. Both have been an integral part of my success and sanity.
Tomorrow I start my first full week at work with no more training or transitioning. I am officially a resident of the City of Norfolk! Tomorrow I also start another semester of classes- yep your girl is back at that too. Thank you so much for listening. Oh! and thank you so much for sharing my work! I've had more subscribers and listeners over this transition period thanks to you all sharing my content. You have no idea what this means to me. Thank you!