One of the hardest transitions I have had to make is going from being the center of attention to coaching and inspiring others to stand in the light of admiration. Not that I have totally given up center stage. Yet I now see that my purpose is truly in passing the baton.
I am in Panama teaching a leadership class. On the second day, four of the strongest women in the class cornered me, wanting to glean my wisdom. I was about to jump in with a story about the injustices I have weathered when I remembered that I was there for them, not me. I shifted into asking them about their obstacles and praised them for modeling such confidence and savvy. Their smiles beamed with pride.
A friend of mine gave me a set of Crone Stones for my 50th birthday. I love the stones but hate the name, envisioning an old hag with a bump on her nose. I know I’m being silly. I’m sure the women who were listening to me with such eagerness did not see me as an old hag. Everything I have accomplished in this life has led me to this perfect place…to be a shining light for those who follow behind me.
I am not totally content in this role. I am still jealous of my colleagues when they publish a new book and worry too much about course evaluations when I teach. I still work too hard to be the best. I will probably never tire of telling the stories about my life that put me one step above the rest.
Yet the truth is, when I silence my needy brain, my heart opens enough to love the men and women just beginning their journey as leaders. As they drink in my words, I am there not for their admiration but to look in their eyes and transfer the hope and courage that brought me to where I stand. Is there any grander purpose than this? I hope there comes a day when I don’t have to remind myself why I am here.