In what has felt like one of the best years of my life, I’ve had one of my lowest and my highest moments of 2013 in the past week or two.
The big high came on Monday night, seeing my good friend win a significant State level business women’s award that also puts her in contention for the national finals.
Listening to past winners of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards talk about what this recognition meant for them and the opportunities it created, I’m excited for my friend and her path ahead.
It’s fantastic that the wider community will now have an opportunity to understand what her family, friends and people who work with her have been able to appreciate for some time.
I will come back to this high note shortly, but first to the low.
A nasty bout of influenza has struck me down in the weeks since I came home from Cambodia. There was a particularly bad stretch of five or six days when it seemed that all I could do was rest and sleep.
Despite recognising I needed to take it easy and recover, I couldn’t help feeling frustrated and guilty that valuable time was going to waste.
But I could also see a silver lining. Why?
When I decided to seize this wonderful opportunity to take time off to travel, explore and volunteer after being made redundant earlier this year, I was a little concerned that once I stopped work I might lose motivation.
It’s reassuring that even in sickness, I still had my usual drive to be productive. It’s been a purposeful year and I’m happy with the progress I’m making with the goals I set for this time.
Sometimes you have to give yourself permission to take things slower. Another dear friend emphasized this when he spoke publicly this week about his near-death experience earlier this year.
He chose to focus on the positives in his health crisis and has approached his recovery as the long-service leave he’d never been able to take. That’s given him the opportunity to make changes that mean he’s healthier and happier.
Opportunities arise from all sorts of situations, both positive and negative.
Sometimes adversity helps us to focus on what’s important and to come out stronger – as a number of women illustrated at the business women’s awards.
There was a theme woven through many of the current and past winner stories about the need to overcome difficulties, sometimes even tragedy, as these accomplished women have juggled work and life, including motherhood for some.
Guest speaker and Mamamia website publisher Mia Freedman set the scene for this with the observation that we do ourselves no favours as women when we try to make it look like it all comes easily.
It’s refreshing to hear successful women acknowledge that life doesn’t match the perfect airbrushed fantasy and they don’t need to either.
Listening to these exceptional women, who lead successful lives in business and make a real contribution to our world, truly uplifted, motived and inspired.
It could intimidate just as easily, were it not for the fact that these women – who are soaring at the top of their game – went out of their way to keep it real.
To borrow some of their own words, they refused to sugar-coat things, had learned to accept that ok can be good enough sometimes, that sometimes you need a doona day and sometimes it’s alright to just put one foot in front of the other.
Of course, this is coupled with large dollops of drive, passion, belief, bravery, perseverance, vision, intellect, creativity, confidence and other great attributes that help these women shine.
Congratulations to my friend and to all the winners, and finalists. And thank you all for sharing your stories so openly – the highs and lows, laughs, tears and all.