"Make the right choices now. Don't choose out of negativity," said Marion Jones, former five-time Olympic medalist and a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Her book, On the Right Track, offered insight into her incredible personal journey. I sat in the audience unaware of the path she had chosen. I later learned she was at the forefront of super-star athletes who took performance-enhancing drugs. In the beginning, she chose not to be truthful about it. A choice.
Marion Jones talked about her star status. The insulating veil it offered. She described her inaction rooted in being 'too ashamed, too proud or too exhausted' to make a choice, let alone the right choice.
Are people typically pushed to make choices like Marion Jones? I was surprised recently by data on what triggers or initiates women's transitions.
According to an online survey hosted Novofemina.com, the top triggers for transition weren't passive at all. It wasn't about being fired. It wasn't about a spouse or partner leaving. While those responses were there, they didn't make the top of the list.
The two most frequently cited triggers for transition were "decision to pursue more of my potential" and "career change.'
As 2014 gets underway, what are the choices that you are making?
Last weekend, I attended a training session for volunteers who assist a local youth group. A wide cross-section of townspeople attended. One gentleman, Sal, who is a youth minister from a local church, spoke at length. He shared a story that I found surprisingly powerful.
Sal said that every year he hosts an off-site for local teens. At the conclusion, he gives each participant a 'raw' light switch. By 'raw,' I mean just picked out of the bin at Home Depot. Wires hanging out. Mechanical and electric components all visible.
With the switch, Sal reminds kids that the decision is theirs; they can either choose to turn it on or leave it off. To jump in large into life or just hang back. From Sal's retelling of this story, kids all over town have light switches on their bureaus.
If you could make a choice, what would it be? Will you defer your choice like Marion Jones?
Take this test. If you followed a path directed by your passions, would there be a gap between it and the path you are on now?
When I chose to transition from my last role, as E.V.P. of HR and Administration of a Fortune 500 company, I'm not sure it was active. My daughter, then a kindergartener, had been having trouble at school. I responded as any working parent might. I met with the teacher several times. I held conference calls with the school's leadership on the way into the office many mornings. It wasn't until I was on a seven-day family vacation that I witnessed how devastating this issue had been on my daughter. It was then that I made the choice, instantly.
Transition, to me, is a process during which we re-evaluate our assumptions. Assumptions about our capacity, our identity and our values. This requires each of us to do our own calculus.
Do yourself a favor. Next time you're near Home Depot or one of its big box competitors stop in. Grab one of their light switches. Is there anything that this powerful visual will inspire you to do?
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