My grandma grew up on a small family farm in Central Iowa. From the time she could walk, she pitched in—doing household chores, taking care of her siblings, and helping in the fields. My grandpa was a country boy, always toeing the line between mischief and delinquency, picking up odd jobs, and catching catfish in the crick to help put dinner on the table.
To this day, my grandparents are what I would call old school. The type of people who are made of uncompromising integrity and tenacious hard work. They’re still thankful for the value of a dollar, for the May showers that grow their tomatoes and tulips in the backyard, and the pure sounds of Dean Martin and Doris Day on their turntable. They see personal responsibility, commitment, and mistakes all the same: regardless of circumstance, you own it.
Lucky for me, I was pretty much raised by them. So it’s not surprising that I thought of them often while attending the Center for Growing Talent by PMA’s 5th Annual Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference. The theme of the three-day professional development conference, held April 23-25, was “Own It.”
As a first-time attendee, I was pleased to discover that the event fully reflected the industry we love by challenging us to learn, discuss, and grow within principles that apply to us professionally—from field to shelf—and personally—from home to office. Here are just a few highlights that I pledged to own as I wrapped up 72 hours of professional networking and development.
Thoughtfulness has been lost. What does this cost?
Our industry, arguably more than any other, relies on speed to market for quality and freshness assurance. This means we not only move fast, but we also never stop! Juliet Funt, founder of Whitespace at Work, reminded us why it is so critical to our businesses and our bottom lines to create whitespace in our workspaces—it allows for pause amidst chaos.
This pause, she said, reduces busywork, refocuses on strategy rather than simply activity, and ultimately drives value for thoughtfulness over exertion within our companies. She challenged the audience to ask, “What happens to your business when talented people don’t have time to think?” She also shared examples of the quantifiable gain a company receives when they commit to transitioning from a thing factory into a thought factory.
Whitespace allows companies to remember who they are, gives time to reflect on what they’ve done, and creates thoughtfulness around where they’re going, ultimately allowing them to more effectively own their opportunities and outcomes.
It takes vision to see results.
Whether planting seeds for next year’s harvest or implementing strategies to support next quarter’s sales goals, little can be accomplished without a clear vision. Mary Shapiro, a professor of practice from the Simmons School of Management, led a conversation around what it takes to build, communicate, and lead a vision. “The difference between being viewed as a significant contributor and a leader,” she said, “is a vision.”
There are three key skills in leading a successful vision:
- Know it. You must prove your competency and knowledge in order for someone to follow.
- Explain it. To create credibility and support for your vision, you must convince your audience of the strategic reason for it, and the organizational outcome it will drive.
- Report it. To prove value and ensure continued support, you must make sure that people have visibility to the impactful results your vision has led to.
Don’t ever underestimate your power to change everything.
Sometimes business and life are as vulnerable as a field of crops are to Mother Nature. Like Mother Nature’s impact on a crop, it is human nature to allow uncontrollable forces in life to dictate our growth and potential. But Mel Robbins, CNN commentator, best-selling author, and creator of The 5-Second Rule, believes we can conquer those forces and accomplish extraordinary things through the simple will that her 5-second rule instills within us.
“The issue is not knowing what to do or how to do it, it’s having the will to start,” she stated. Our natural, immediate tendency is to do the thing that feels the easiest—to stay the same, run from fear, hesitate or procrastinate from taking a step toward progress. Over time, this lack of action becomes a habit that we allow to happen without even noticing.
To combat this, we need to build the “muscle of starting,” and that takes practice. Robbins said that to change a behavior, gain the courage to do things, or control the direction of your thoughts and actions, you have to practice. “The moment you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must count backward—5-4-3-2-1—and physically move, or your brain will stop you.”
Our lives’ successes and failures come down to the 5-second decisions we make all day long. These little decisions give us the power to grow our teams, our businesses, and our lives.
Finding moments to bring lasting impact.
The way I see it—thanks to what my grandparents instilled in me, coupled with what I learned at PMA’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference—success depends on the ways we own our responsibilities and commitments. I’ll look for the moments in my day that can lead to long-lasting impact in my personal and professional success. I hope you feel inspired to find these moments, too.
- Moments of still: an inspiring and quantifiable reminder of the impact our businesses will feel when we take more time to pause—think, strategize, and problem solve—in the whitespace.
- Moments of skill: the impact our vision can have when we influence through competency, credibility, and visibility.
- Moments of will: the transformative will that one 5-second countdown can provide.