A bit about Helen - finding my own path
I've been asked a few times to share a bit more about my personal story, so I thought I'd practice being brave and actually do it!
Feeling like the odd one out
Growing up, I often felt like I didn’t fit in. I look different (I’m biracial, half Chinese and half Caucasian) and you’d be amazed how many people told me that. I loved learning and reading, but I also loved sport, playing music & being creative. I got frustrated that I didn’t feel like I fit into the extrovert or introvert category (I now know that I’m an ambivert which is a combination of both).
Feeling lost and confused
I really remember feeling like I was lost and I wasn’t sure if I would ever find my path. I gave myself a hard time for changing my mind a lot and not picking a direction, especially when some paths seemed so clear. Why couldn’t I just pick one and stick to it?! I knew deep down that none of the ‘clear’ paths felt right to me, but I spent a lot of time and energy trying to stick to them.
Over many years of trial and error, leadership work, coaching and being part of a supportive community in Washington D.C and in Australia, I realised I don’t need to go down a clear, well-trodden path. I could create my own. I did that by looking for the sign posts, letting my values and passions be my compass, and following my own direction, even if it seemed strange to most other people.
Image: Outside the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. protesting for access to abortion care. I moved to Washington D.C. with a dream to work on gender equity and stayed for almost 5 years!
What to do when you're at a crossroads
The importance of creating my own path became even more obvious when I participated in The Leadership Connection, a 6-month program run by the wonderful Michelle Sales. It is designed for female leaders to develop effective, authentic and confident leadership strategies. It was comforting to know that I’d be learning from and with a group of the same ten amazing women for six months. We walked in as total strangers, and I’ll be honest I was pretty intimidated. We walked out with a new group of friends and cheerleaders for whatever we do.
Image: This is from a Yes Get It workshop (I don't have any photos from our The Leadership Connection series).
One of my favourite modules was on authentic leadership. I loved digging into the research from Harvard Business Review, including 'Why Women Volunteer for Tasks That Don’t Lead to Promotions’ and re-watching Simon Sinek’s TED Talk ‘How Great Leaders Inspires Action’. I read and listened to the way other leaders embraced their unique story and path, and practiced doing that with my own. I learned about the strengths I found energizing like self-awareness, connection and curiosity. I learnt about the secret weapon strengths that Michelle encouraged me to use more, like being an organiser, self-belief and creativity. I was excited to learn that positive psychology encourages people to use their strengths, rather than feeling bad about their weaknesses.
Another one of my favourite discoveries was the ‘Immunity to Change’ tool. Created by Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty members Professor Robert Kegan and Lecturer Lisa Lahey, it helps adult learners and leaders overcome the human aversion to change. I love this tool so much that I use in Yes Get It coaching, workshops and for myself.
Is this the way?
The more dedicated time I spend working on who I am as a leader and a person, the more clear my path becomes. Through Yes Get It, I love to work with people so they don’t feel lost and guide them to find their own path. I love to work with organisations and teams to further develop their 'human skills', like how to have hard conversations, build trust, communicate or be more inclusive. I love when people (especially women and historically marginlised people) are equipped with practical tools to be empowered, connected and supported to thrive. My ultimate goal is for people to find joy at work and enthusiastically say ‘yes’ to their lives.
I definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I know I’m going in the right direction.
You've got this,