As a child of Chinese immigrants, I know (as do others like me know), that we have been taught to repay our parents’ sacrifices with our filial piety, respect and societal success. I would say my father and mother would place “living our life purpose” at the top of the list (ok, maybe after filial piety). It may not be characteristic of the Chinese family. But then again, neither my father or mother followed the path of least resistance.
As I’ve gathered with my friends, I have come to a place of impatience. Impatience with how so many of us, myself included, have been waiting to live as full a life as possible. It may be the condition of humans. But I do find this affliction more prevalent with women and oddly, with highly gifted women. It seems our success in working incredibly hard to meet the surprising approval of our external world is the very thing that has kept us waiting…and waiting…before we dare to truly breathe our life.
In America, if you want a successful career, you must be willing to recognize your uniqueness and your capability. You must proudly let the world know. Be open to respecting and celebrating all your wonderful accomplishment.
As record numbers of international students arrive onto US campuses, I am reminded of how tenuous a time it is for so many students. Arriving in a new country without family, finding and setting up home, becoming functional in a new culture and establishing a foothold in our academic setting — wow!
It is understandable that we find comfort in the familiar. The route we take to work everyday, our daily routines, the people we hang out with, our certainty that we are right on any given topic. Familiarity allows us to master our surroundings so we can feel safe, confident and competent. But constant familiarity, doing and thinking the same way, starts to close off our world to new possibilities and new connections.
In my coaching work, I spend a significant amount of time helping my clients find the power and beauty of who they already are. It’s only with embracing their core strength that my clients can utilize the new tactical skills (communications or management) to develop to their fullest potential.
Once we own our uniqueness, it is through our persistent work of courage and optimism that our hopes will find its expression in the world.
Yesterday was a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, a person who enabled so many to believe in and eventually live their dreams. I’ve learned of his work and the civil rights movement through books and documentaries. But I’ve had the honor to understand this through the stories of my mother-in-law, who is a heroine of the civil rights movement and embodies the spirit of Dr. King’s work.
Yet during these holidays, when a year is about to end, it is such apt time to reflect on the year that has passed. Its moments — big and small, the ups and downs. To understand the current that flows. To draw learning and meaning from our life this past year,our personal and professional. To be present with these 365 days that have passed, that make up who we are, yet will never be, again.