Learning to Lead

I am a leader in life, no question, but leading in business and leading a team is a journey more complex than I had ever imagined. I truly find all the elements fascinating. Learning to lead individual team members who all learn and achieve their greatness in different ways is something I never really thought about before. I have only ever had to be accountable for myself, and having a strong work ethic, moral compass, and being a high achiever, it was easy for me to succeed on my own. Changing roles has made me look deeper into why I valued leaders I once had. What did they do that made me feel inspired? 

I am a Mother who is not only comfortable pushing the boundaries with my kids but one who is not afraid of the challenges that come along with them. You learn to do what you need to do to get your kids through the tough times and enjoy the calm before the next storm. I am an advocate to the core for the humans I am raising and that will always be front and centre in my life. I feel no different now with my team. I will be their advocate and go to bat for them when they need me to, and I will challenge them to push their boundaries to succeed. 

I jumped blindly into the Financial world and although I wasn’t sure where my creative brain would fit in, I accepted the challenge to see where I could take it. Four years in as a Financial Advisor, I worked hard to built my reputation in a business that knew nothing about me. I came from an industry where my reputation was known to be solid for the better part of my 20’s and 30’s and left to better balance my family. 

I was chosen to lead the team I had been part of and excelled within for a year. When you go from team-mate to team-lead sometimes the transition can be awkward depending on the player within your team. Fortunately mine recognized the passion I had for our department and my want for all of us to succeed together. 

My performance leader took on a role that was her passion shortly after I made the commitment, a commitment that was partially based on having her as my mentor, so needless to say I was forced to adapt and embrace the change quickly. 

My perception of what was going to transpire over the next year, was turned upside down. It had to either get on or jump off, the train was leaving and plan B had become a distant option. I felt the surge of energy inside me rise to the challenge. I hit the road running, learning and adapting to the change as we ran full speed ahead. I took more notes than I ever had and did my own due diligence at every opportunity so I was prepared at any given moment.  At times I felt like I was in survival mode. Most important, I learned to listen. I listened more than I have ever listened before. What was given information I would not have been privy to had my leader stayed, as a replacement was nowhere in sight. I learned the back end of how my department ran and being a seeker of knowledge that was the gift.   

I take my role very seriously, at times I think too seriously but I want to leave a legacy and change the lives of my team in a positive inspiring way. I want them to think of me as helping facilitate their next step. The importance of helping them achieve their own personal goals has turned into one of my personal goal. I want to see them spread their wings and fly, to the moon if that’s what they are aiming for. 

I think of my team as I would my kids. They are here now, but what a great accomplishment to see them succeed on their own one day. My kids have challenged me throughout the years, my son in-particular, but not once did I ever think of voting him out of the family (okay, maybe once) or putting him up for adoption. In all honestly what parent in their right mind would adopt a man-boy who didn’t see the importance of a clean bathroom and/or bedroom and continually drank out of the jug. (I would vote him most improved family member if we were to cast our ballots today) My point is, you give your kids chance after chance to learn and grow and hone their life skills and show compassion and patience with them along the way, your team should also be given the same respect. 

I didn’t think being a Mom would directly help me in my career, but it truly has. My leadership role has also helped me become a better Mom. 

“Great leaders are like parents, they create the environment, so that people that are in their charge become better.” 

“How do I help my people be their natural best!” ~ Simon Sinek That simply says it all! 

When I co-created Tara Cronic with two Women of Wisdom our goal was to inspire women to lead their most authentic lives. We soon realized that we had a great deal of male followers so adapted and practiced inclusion. All three of us are leaders in our own right. We are all successful women in our own lines of business. Each of us would consider ourselves great parents, and all have a strong voice which we intended to share in order to connect authenticlaly. Authenticity to me is the key to a great connection, whether it be in your personal life or in your business circle. What we shared on Tara Cronica was who we were while we were “Exploring the Never Ending Desires that Fuel All Life While Find Lyrical Beauty in Everyday Happenings” which became our mission statement.  

Tara Cronica helped me learn the importance of using my voice to instigate change, inspire others to live authentic lives, and lead with courage. Steve Jobs commencement speech to Stanford University had a part in it that I think of often. He said do what you love and one day you will look back and connect the dots. The dots may not make sense at the time, but they will eventually. I am connecting my dots. 

The training and support that has come with my leadership role is invaluable! I leave each course wanting more. The women and men who have supported me along the way are all mentors to me. I truly believe they honesty care. I can’t tell you how many times I have googled leadership to find more information about the path I am traveling. I had no idea leadership could be so enlightening! As I learn to lead I find out more about myself that challenges who I am. I am continuously being pushed out of my comfort zone and it’s exhilarating to say the least. 

Learning to lead has sparked an ember that I fan each day. The sky is the limit in my world.

Share

Nature versus Nurture

Here’s a little narrative about my “biological” father; someone I’ve never given much thought to let alone write about before.  It’s important that I put “biological” in front of the word father because I don’t want to confuse one with the other.  I was raised and adopted by a man I call my father, or more commonly – dad.  I never met my biological father.  The opportunity has passed since he himself recently passed.  What do I feel about that?    Nothing.

Is it strange to feel nothing at all for someone you have never met and never had any desire to meet?  Or is it stranger still to never have had any desire to meet the co-creator of ones physical self?

Here are the few things that I have been told about him.

  1. He was very good looking.  Ridiculously so.
  2. He used to hit my mother.  He usually hit her in places that would not show any marks. The last time was when I was a month old.  He hit her so hard she fell backwards into the bathtub.  Then she took me and left and never went back.
  3. His mother was an alcoholic which, not surprisingly, seems to have had a deep negative effect on him.
  4. He had no respect for women and the more they swooned over him, the more he was repulsed by them.
  5. He had been married once before he met my mother and had two small children from that marriage.  They both lived with him and my mother when I was born.
  6. He had many more relationships with many more women and many more children resulted.
  7. He was a sports photographer.
  8. He also took pictures of young girls and went to jail for it.
  9. He refused to sign off for my adoption until the lawyer suggested he would have to pay all the child support he owed, and then he quickly signed.
  10. His first name was Doug.  I’ve been told his last name dozens of times but I can never remember it.

Of course, all of what I have been told has come from my mother.  The part about him going to jail came from my mothers sister (not the most reliable source but I’ve never doubted the story), who told my mother who then told me.  I have never had any feelings, good or bad, regarding anything I was ever told about him.  He was a stranger and obviously not a very nice man.  I have always felt like he was just a character in a story…not real.  Not real to me.  There would be no romantic fantasies about meeting him one day.  When I was angriest at my parents, mostly as a teenager, I never once imagined that I should run off and live with him instead.

There was one time, and I believe I was already well into my 30’s when this happened: During an argument, my mother accused me of giving her a cold look the way “he” used to.  I had never before heard anyone suggest that I resembled him in any way.  I’ve always looked a lot like my mother.  Angrily, she blurted out that I was like him in that I could shut down emotionally and become very cold.  Well that comment stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking.  And probably not the way she had hoped.  I wondered if there may have been a whole different side to all of the stories I’d heard about him.  I had always felt that my mother was overly dramatic and extravagant, even reckless in the way she expressed her emotions; lots of tears and yelling etc.; it always made me uncomfortable.  I don’t believe I’m cold but I guess compared to her and from her perspective I could appear so at times.  I may look like my mother but we are very different in many ways.

It dawned on me then that all the information I’d ever learned about this man had come from only one person.  From someone who sees the world very differently than I do.  And so, for a minute or two, I wondered if there was perhaps a little more to this stranger, perhaps there were some ways in which he and I may have been alike.  But then I also realized that it didn’t really matter to me either way.  As Popeye would say “I yam what I yam”. He was still a stranger and I still had no desire to know him.  Does that make me cold? Or realistic?  I’d like a second opinion please.

As I’ve grown older I have wondered whether there may have been any important medical history I should have been aware of but then really, what good would that do?  If there is or if there isn’t heart disease on his side for example, I’m still striving to live a good clean healthy life either way.

So I guess in my case, score one for nurture over nature.  All of my life’s experience, including never meeting this man, has made me into who I am today and I think I’ve turned out ok.  Even my mother would agree…I think.  😉

Share

Artist ~ Kathy Kromer

I googled ‘soulmates’ trying to find a great photo to add to a post I was writing and came across the artwork of Kathy Kromer. Kathy’s artwork spoke to me! I don’t usually do posts on art, that’s Jacquie’s expertise, but Kathy paints hearts and you all know how I feel about hearts being born on Valentine’s Day. Kathy’s use of intense colour mixed with the individual message of each piece is the perfect combination to me! If you’ve ever been in my house you know that I love art that comes with a message, maybe too much! Each room has a sort of affirmation on the wall somewhere! Freedom, Laugh, No Skinny Dipping, Inspire, Love, Life Needs More Green Lights, No Welcome Beatniks, see what I mean!

Kathy never really considered herself a born artist, art was never the driving force in her life. Kathy describes herself as entering through the door of perseverance and practise to get to where she is at today! Thank goodness for perseverance and practise! I love that, it gives me hope that if I wanted to paint I could with just that! I’m inspired! I will let Kathy’s art speak to you, visit her website too this is just a sliver of what she creates!

kathykromer.com

Where there is no Path, follow your Heart ~

Key Ingredients ~ Cherish, Romance, Desire.

Soulmates III

The Daughter ~ She is fragile. Innocence bursting with infinite possibility.

The Mother ~ She delivers life. She teaches love.

The Angel ~ She is the guardian of your soul.

Heart of a Woman ~

Share

Svaha Spirit Series~First Woman Walks the Lost Arrow Spire Highline

This video of Libby Sauter walking the Lost Arrow Spire Highline, nearly 3000 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor made my palms sweat.  It also stirred within me the desire to cheer on a fellow human being.  I don’t know Libby from Adam but I soooo wanted her to succeed.  I could not even imagine myself climbing up that mountain let alone walking across that thin line of rope or steel or whatever the highline is made of.  You could have steel two by sixes across there and I still wouldn’t be able to walk it at that height.  So man or woman, I applaud you.  The mother in me is also very glad you used all the proper safety lines.  Although if that was a child of mine I would not have been able to view it.

It is such a perfect “If at first you don’t succeed…” video don’t you think? I loved hearing the encouragement and coaching from her friend too.  “It’s yours Libby” “You Got It!”

Good for you Libby! Now stop freaking your mother out!

Share

Family History & Breaking the Cycle ~

If you follow Tara Cronica regularly you know this month Jacquie created our header in which she chose ‘Finding Lyrical Beauty in History’. Great job Jake, I love that each month we get a fresh new look which reflects Lyrical beauty and our unique personalities.

Family history makes me think of my family tree branching off in different directions with lots of similar character traits and connections of generations past. There is family history in our names dating back decades, our behaviours, and our genetics.

When you have history with someone it changes everything. There is an element of trust that goes along with it, which takes years to build but has to start somewhere, right? When you first meet someone new it’s fresh and exciting but it can be a little unsettling that you don’t know their history. You are unaware of their family traits that have been passed down from generation to generation. Is your potential mother in-law a control freak, brother in-law a narcissist or soon to be sister in-law a manic depressive? How many of these traits will present themselves in your potential partner over the years because of genetics or simply because it’s what they know. It’s a gamble really. No matter what our genetic history or family traits are, we all have a choice of who we want to be.

Who hasn’t been told at some point in their lives “you’re just like your mother/father” or “your grandfather used to do the same thing.” (that’s not always a good thing) As human beings we find comfort in belonging. If you’re adopted you have a completely different understanding of family history because it starts with you. Nobody in your family looks like you and you’re not sure which traits you’ve picked up through osmosis or genetics.

I don’t think there is anyone out there who hasn’t at least once in their lifetime cringed at just the thought of being just like your _____. (I will let you fill in that blank) That is when one of those traits passed down is not one we want to be associated with. It’s when this trait is staring back at you in the mirror that you need to do something about it. It will lead you around and around instead of moving forward to break the cycle.

Some negative family traits would be families who don’t communicate or speak for years out of stubbornness, families who don’t show affection because they didn’t get any while growing up, even though they crave it themselves. Abuse is a cycle among some families. There are two ways you can go, you can repeat the cycle or break it. It’s not right to think that because you didn’t get something that you shouldn’t give it freely yourself, or that you did get treated poorly so you justify doing it. If you can identify the behaviours or traits you don’t want, whether they started with your parents or grandparents, or maybe they started with you, you’re on the right path. Being aware is the first step, making that connection is the hard part, and then taking steps to avoid history from repeating itself is success!  It means growth in a positive direction is happening. You take the good and remove the bad, what you take with you is a choice, it’s not bound to you. You choose each day who you want to be.

I think when history does repeat itself it can mean the lesson was not learned or there was a lack of growth along that chosen path. History within a family is a wonderful feeling, knowing every single thing about someone, having followed their growth throughout the years is comfort, plain and simple. We all love comfort. But sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and stand on our own two feet. We need to welcome others into our circle and embrace their history, even the parts unknown to us. History is out there waiting to be found, we just need to explore a little further.

Share

Relive One Day!

Okay ladies if you could Relive One Day all over again what day would you pick and why?

TTracy Relives the Past~

While running last Saturday August 15th 2009 which is my son Jesse’s birthday I couldn’t help but reflect back on that day eleven years ago.  Jesse was my first child, who gave me the gift of being a Mom.  While I relived that day in my mind as I ran I wished that I could go back to it and do it all over again.

Eleven very memorable years have past since that day and it still brings tears to my eyes thinking of becoming a Mom for the first time.  On that day my life as I once knew it changed.  My heart stretched bigger than I could have ever imagined.  I felt everything more intensely.  My maternal instincts all came alive on that day.

I remember Bonnie once told me after the birth of her son James that if she was told she had to eliminate everyone on this planet to save his life she would do it in a mother’s heart beat.  I disagreed and said “I would save my husband, my soul mate, you can always have another child.”  On August 15 1998 everyone on the planet was fair game if I was ever faced with that dilemma.  Yes even my soul mate, gone, every single one of you!

The magnitude of emotion that pours through your soul is indescribable.  You can’t believe this little human being came from you and your partner, you created them !  They grew inside of you for 10 months and every moment is surreal, from finding out you were pregnant to feeling your babies first flutter, to the grand finale of holding your precious little baby.  I felt overwhelming love.  It was hard to believe you could love something so small, so much, instantly.  When you touch for the very first time the connection is pure magic.  It’s falling in loves in it’s purest form.  Bliss.  I can tell you without a doubt that being a Mother has been the best thing I have EVER done.  Every day I have the pleasure of spending time with my kids is a blessing I am forever thankful for.  So ladies what day would you like to relive again?   Birth of Jesse

jacquie janzen yeeJacquie~

Great photo, Tracy!   Isn’t it funny how our minds work?  When I read the question I understood it to mean what day would you like to ‘do over’ as in erase from memory with a clean slate and get it right this time kinda thing.  Ha! Like I could pick just one!

I’d have to say I’d love a retake of the day I competed for Miss Teen Vancouver back when I was 15.  My sister had invited several our friends to be in the audience and so the pressure was on to do well.  During the interview portion I remember the other girls getting great questions like ‘Which famous character from a novel do you admire most?’ (Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice) or ‘Should Phys Ed still be taught in high schools?” (yes)

My question was about women’s lib.  Now, I knew nothing about women’s lib, being only 15, and so my answer upset some feminists in the audience and apparently I got some boos from their direction.  Yowza!  I think I said something  about how I felt men and women were made differently for a reason and so each were better suited for specific jobs.  It had to do with how our brains processed info differently.  Yeah, I know…painful!   For years I would cringe whenever I thought of that day, and the way my friends were buckled over with laughter at my faux pas (they did take me out for a sundae at White Spot afterwards to soothe my jangly nerves).

I have a much broader grasp on the topic now and could handle that question so much better if given the chance, but I still think men and women deal with issues differently and bring unique talents to the table based on gender.   I just needed a more PC way to say it when I was 15!

Vive La Difference!

Bonnie Johnson's PostBonnie Looks Back~

First off, I just have to say ~  “I LOVE that photo Tracy!”  The joy on your face is so uplifting.  A perfect moment caught by the camera forever.

When I first thought about the subject for this post I had a few wonderful memories pop into my head.  Some of the “firsts” would be worth reliving (some not).  I thought I might write about a carefree day in my childhood, a time before I knew any disappointment or sadness.

Instead I’m thinking back to the day that James was born.  It wasn’t the same for me as it was for Tracy.  I didn’t feel an instant connection like she did.  I felt odd, like I didn’t know who the strange little person was who lay so near me in his little hospital crib.   I really didn’t.  Everyone around me expected me to just know how to handle him and what he wanted whenever he squeaked.  I didn’t have a clue.  Those maternal instincts did not rush in the moment I laid eyes on him.  It happened slowly for me.  I gradually began to love every ounce of the demanding little stranger, but not instantly.  I did feel a strong need to protect the little gaffer.  Knowing him and loving him the way I do now does make me want to go back and relive that day.   To really understand the gift of sharing the very first day of life with my precious son.

And then I’d like to relive each and every day with him after that too.  Because now that he has grown and moved away I look back and wish I could have appreciated each of those days more.  Yes  I would have done some things differently for sure, but most of all I would have enjoyed every single moment of the time we lived together.  Sigh.

Share

Tattoo Curse?

Tracy’s Take

You know the curse.  It goes like this –  you meet a guy, you fall in love, he gets your name on his skin somewhere permanently and the next day you dump him.  It works in reverse too, but you’re on a Women Inspiring Women site,  so we’ll go with this version.nick-cannon-mariah

There must be some truth to this because ‘a really good friend of mine’ was in the process of getting a tattoo and the artist actually had that conversation with him.  Was he really sure that he wanted his partner’s sign on his body for life?

Curses and superstitions are all just different forms of fear trying to prevent us from not living in the moment. I think every tattoo has a unique  story behind it.  Doesn’t everyone watch Kat Von D on LA Ink just for that, the stories behind the art?

When I see a tattoo I am instantly intrigued.  I want to hear who, what, where, why and when.  I want to admire the art and artist behind the work.  I’ve even gone as far as asking two very handsome, young, strapping, hormone raging (your getting the picture, right?) guys if they would take off their shirts so I could have a better look, all in the name of research, of course.  I can’t remember what their tattoos were of, but my point is…. if you took the step to place your art on your skin you should wear it proudly and show that you have no fear.   I think tattoos are another  unique way of expressing ourselves.  Be proud of the skin your in.  What are your thoughts?

Tracy

Jacquie’s 2 cents

Well Tracy,  I think the reasons people get tattoos change with each generation but the ‘curse of the loved-one’s name’ has withstood the test of time.   I really wanted to do something a bit ‘rebel-ish’ to celebrate a milestone birthday a few years ago and so I got a small tattoo on my right shoulder.    I went through a full hour of some majorly intense smarts to get my ink trophy so it really fries my bacon when I get accused of flashing a…rub-on!!! People thought it looked too neat and tidy or ‘cute’!  I needed to make it edgier, they said!

My dear sister, always wanting to see me suffer be helpful,  suggested I add my husband’s name underneath the design.   Um…at that point in my life if I thought I was going to be with him forever maybe I wouldn’t have felt the need to get the tattoo!!!!    What part of the word rebel don’t you understand?!

I had a way out.  My husband’s Asian so if I just had the characters that made up his Chinese name added in a  vertical line  under my tattoo we’d all go home happy.   His name in Chinese is Future Go Smoothly.  No, that’s my son’s name.  Anyway, it had something to do with money, the future & happiness.  Very transferable sentiment.

I haven’t been back to have my tattoo added onto yet.  Yeah,  I’ll admit I’m not relishing the idea of having that needle buzzing in my ear and busting up my epidermis again.  Plus, I’ve heard horror stories, and had a good laugh, at the celebrities who’ve permanently scrawled things like ‘Large Waste’ or  ‘This Boy is Ugly’  in Chinese when they really meant to say Love, Honor and Obey.  I don’t know if I trust the combination of Gavin’s dad’s handwriting and the tattoo artist’s skills with something this permanent.  What if it wound up saying ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til it’s Gone”.   Geez,  I’d have egg on my face!

If what you say is true, Tracy, then I owe the success of my marriage to the fact that I haven’t put his stamp of ownership on my person.  I get it.

No one can predict what will happen tomorrow, but I know now that when I do get up the nerve to add to my tattoo I’ll do it without fear.  I’ll do it because I truly believe that I’ll always have the same feeling of love, and most of all respect,  for  Big Lucky Dragon,  and that will never change.

jacquie

Bonnie weighs in…

I too decided to get inked on a birthday.  It wasn’t any milestone number, but I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something wild and dangerous.  It was dangerous to me not because of the fear of dirty needles, but because I knew my mother would disapprove.

It was absolutely delicious to me to have this fair sized but well hidden tattoo that she knew nothing about…at first.  After a while, however, the smugness turned into fear.  Every time I was around her I was hyper conscious of keeping my shirt tucked in.   Here I was in my mid and even late 30’s and worrying about my shirt not being tucked in when I was around my mother!  Damn!  I didn’t feel empowered by my secret at all anymore, I just felt like I was 7 years old again.  For years, whenever I was on my way to see my parents, I would rehearse telling them about my body art.  And for years I would chicken out.   I spent the entire drive volleying clever come backs to all the disapproving remarks.  Then by the time I’d arrived at their door step I was exhausted and I did not want to go there!

Worse was that I even had my young son and my husband watching out for me.  There were a few times around my mother that one or both of them would cough and widen their eyes at me when my shirt had hiked up.  Finally my husband had enough and gently coaxed me into revealing my “big” secret.  I was approaching 40 years old after all.  What was she going to do, ground me?

On the day of the reveal I warned her that I had something big I wanted to tell her and that I hoped she would not freak out too much.  This was over the phone before we arrived so she had hours to guess at what it could be.  She has a great imagination and so came up with some doozy scenarios of her own.  When I finally broke the big news, palms sweating and pale skinned, her reaction was a very disappointing “Oh is that all!”.  What!

There are a few lessons in this story and they are pretty obvious so I won’t bore you by listing them.  I just hope after reading my tattoo story I can save someone from the same fate.

Bonnie

Share