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Confessions from a #LinkageWIL Keynote

November 20, 2018 Susan MacKenty Brady

This December, Linkage’s Susan MacKenty Brady brings us a must-have guide designed to empower women to master their own Inner Critic and take the next step in their personal and professional lives. “Mastering Your Inner Critic & 7 Other High Hurdles to Advancement: How the Best Women Leaders Practice Self-Awareness to Change What Really Matters,” published by McGraw-Hill Professional, is due in bookstores on 12/3 and is now available for preorder.

For many consecutive days now, I have had an overwhelming, unrelenting, pestering, nagging, heart-felt and genuine feeling of… Gratitude.

Last week, at Linkage’s 19th annual Women and Leadership Institute, I joined more than 900 women who shut out the realities of the world for four days to be present with one another–and to courageously look at themselves. They flew in from every corner of the globe, representing more than 100 organizations. It was nothing shy of awesome.

I gave the opening keynote, during which I shared my own journey of self-awareness and what I have learned about the hurdles that women uniquely face in the workplace. Despite giving this talk hundreds of times before for audiences of varied sizes, this one was especially important to me. It was this year, this keynote, that a vision of mine became a reality: The book that had been in my heart and mind for years–the one that I felt called to write for women everywhere–was distributed to everyone in attendance.

One might think that serving as co-chair and opening keynote and writing a book in the past year (plus presiding over a few other things at work and at home!) would leave me feeling the simple sensation of pride (or exhaustion!). Truth be told, I feel far more gratitude than pride. From the sacrifice my husband and daughters have made by living with a traveling and often preoccupied wife and mom, to my colleagues at Linkage who supported me, to the clients who committed to getting the book in the hands of their female talent, to the amazing women featured in the book, I am left with the images of literally hundreds of people who have had a role in making the Women in Leadership Institute–and the book–a reality.

Here’s what I didn’t know as I ventured into last week; how gracious the women in attendance would be to me, and how much they would be moved by my message. One woman after another approached me to share what my talk meant to them–and who they plan to share the book with. And while I am deeply grateful for the tremendous acceptance and support of those who were in attendance last week and all those who helped make this book possible (there is an 8+ page acknowledgment section in my book; available for your reading pleasure should you wish to learn more!), I must make a confession; I am also grateful for the fact that my Inner Critic didn’t make a peep all week long. For example:

  • When women–completely impromptu and before our opening reception–fell into a (long!) line and waited for me to sign the copy of their book, I looked up and felt… grateful, not surprised.
  • When women posted photos of me and them on social media, I thought “terrific!” instead of “I’ve gained weight!”
  • When a colleague paid tribute to me in a team celebration dinner, I took in what she said and didn’t deflect or minimize.
  • When my husband shared about a morning he had getting our two daughters and two dogs (our four “children”) wrangled before school (complete with our puppy pooping on our bed!), I didn’t slip into utter guilt for being away, but instead promised him a few days of reprieve when I returned home.
  • When I saw that a video of my keynote had been posted on LinkedIn by our very talented marketing team, I sat back and thought not of my delivery or my appearance, but of the fact that we are delivering valuable content to our many followers.

The list of moments where I noticed how deeply grounded and appreciative I felt goes on and on. In the back of my mind, a whispering voice has been prompting me to take the next step: “Hmm, is it time for a call-in radio talk show for women navigating organizational life? Or perhaps a podcast?” And, this: “It’s time to reach more women with this message.”

The feelings of gratitude I am navigating range from feeling grateful for the human beings in my life who I find myself surrounded by, as well as­ the voices inside my head that come from my Compassionate Center. As we approach this season of giving thanks, I must admit; my cup runneth over. And I am experiencing every moment of gratitude fully. There is nothing that makes me want to give of my gifts and talents even more than knowing that what I am giving makes a difference to those who I am giving to.

Give yourself permission to pause and think about these two questions: What am I thankful for? How can my gratitude help me take the next step in my life?

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