My Imperfect Journey… Finding My Anchor, Purpose & Perspectives..

Do you ever feel stuck, confused or unsure of how to move forward in your career? I have. It’s not a fun space to be in. 

Or have you felt that you are made for bigger things other than your work? Or are you yearning for more meaning in your current job? I have. The ambiguity and uncertainty is exhausting.

 A career break 2 years ago helped me recalibrate what’s important to me. Taking time out to really reflect on my bigger purpose and create new possibilities. That was possibly the best thing I have ever done. 

And if you wonder if you are made for bigger things, or losing sleep over thoughts that go in circles with no clear direction, here’s the story of my imperfect journey. I hope this inspires you to embark on your journey of self discovery to take your next big step forward. 

Find Your Anchor

Many people in the quest for career success morphed into someone they may not like on reflection. It might have been a natural instinct for you to anchor on things that are tangible such as career or monetary success that often define our worth.

 The satisfaction that comes from a promotion or a career advancement, or even a new home gives you a momentary high… after some time it fades to normalcy and you search for a new high again.

Anchor yourself on core values. Core values are the things that are most central to your character and help define who you are as an individual. They guide how you interact with others, what things you choose to pursue, and help you navigate difficult situations and decisions without completely losing your way. 

For me, I choose to anchor myself on Christ and HIS values, and have found immense peace and rest. There will be storms in life, but there is someone greater I can anchor my reality to. And when my faith is greater than fears, I found my world becoming a lot bigger with immense possibilities ahead for me. 

 In my most challenging circumstances at work, my colleagues used to ask why do I look like I walk on water while they are struggling!

Isaiah 40:31 “ but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”

Find Your Why

Purpose is not an objective. It is why you do what you do. For everything you do, there is a bigger purpose. Clarity comes from engagement and not thinking in your head. So get out there, start volunteering, try something different, talk to people or coaches or well, take a break.

 My career break, practicing as a coach, has given me a renewed sense of purpose and drive. It was a humbling experience meeting people who are less privileged yet so giving and gracious towards others. And ex-colleagues who gave up successful career to help the less privileged. Through them I have learned to be grateful and more forgiving of my imperfections and that of others. It has also widened my perspectives.

 Now at work, I focused on developing people and less on my success. Everyone on my team has a development plan; there is always room for growth. I encourage self reflection and critical thinking skills. The best learning comes from empowering them to lead (from all levels). This includes bringing out the best from my agency partners to deliver the best work.

As a Senior Marketing Leader, it’s no longer about delivering effective marketing campaigns to drive brand and revenue growth. Marketing has taken a whole new level for me. Today I drive collaboration across the C-Suites, technology ecosystem and agency partners to ensure I get better alignment for marketing efficiency and deliver strong customer experience. It gives me a greater satisfaction knowing that I have made an impact in business transformation.

Despite my passion for work, I create time capacity to focus out. I mentor fresh graduates to help them navigate their career. I have also co-founded a social initiative abcwomen.org (Authentic, Beautiful & Courageous) to support women (in life transition) through coaching to bring out the best in them.

 Regardless of where you are in your life or career, there is always someone behind you that you can lift.

Gain New Perspectives

When you change or see things in new perspectives, big things can be seen as little things, it becomes harder to worry about anything. With many people I have worked with, their perspectives are limited by their beliefs and experiences. Start believing that all you have is within you and create new experiences.

 To gain new experiences, get out of your comfort zone. Join or create new networks and build new friendships. Your perspectives change as your social capital expands.

 “The smallest change in perspective can transform a life.” Oprah Winfrey

 I work with millennials on my team. They have the most creative ideas and often offer a fresh perspective. What they may have lacked is the experience of navigating in complex organizations and understanding the psychology of key stakeholders. I strive to listen to their point of views, distill them and put them in context based on my experience. Embracing different perspectives delivers the best team outcome. Empathy helps you see things from different perspectives.

I also view work from a different perspective. When I get calls from recruiters, I look beyond the job description, pay or title. I seek to understand the problems and how I can solve them to deliver the performance outcome. I want to wake up excited that I am making an impact and not doing a maintenance job.

 “When you shift the paradigm in whatever it is you choose to do, you bring significance than success follows”. Oprah Winfrey

Life is a journey and always evolving. It’s important to anchor yourself on the right values, find a bigger purpose and keep gaining new perspectives.

 As you prepare for your leap forward in the new year, here’s three advices:

  1. Don’t let fear of failure paralyze you
  2. It’s ok to change course
  3. Invest in yourself

Challenging yourselves to take risks beyond your comfort zones, gives you the opportunity to grow your skill set and confidence. Reject the naysaying voices and keep moving in the direction of your dreams. You’ll get there.

 And most important, have fun!

About the Author

 Adeline is an experienced Marketing Leader from Top Banks and Telco. A data driven marketer, she thrives in building brands, driving revenue growth and building team for peak performance. Her goal is to lead the charge to have a more data driven approach in marketing and is a strong collaborator across C-Suites.

Adeline is an ICF Certified Executive Coach (ACC) & NLP Practitioner. She is also a mentor to undergraduates at social initiatives such as MentorsHub. A co-founder of abcwomen.org – a movement that empowers women in transition, to live their lives to the fullest.

I Took The Risks … What I Learned From My Leadership Journey

I have a knack for creating hardships for myself. Jack Ma espouses hiring someone better than you if you want to succeed. I did exactly that!

As a young upstart manager at 28 yrs, I recruited 2 managers aged 36 yrs and 33 yrs (more experienced & vocal) because I believed in hiring smart people, I just needed to manage. I was prepared to take risks as I was an optimist and believed that I could hone my leadership skills.

Little did I know what I would be in for. My peers were betting that I would be replaced.

For the first 8 mths, I had sleepless nights, from the stress of managing difficult staff, a deteriorating self esteem & confidence. I read on leadership, attended NLP courses, to overcome my personal challenges. I had been too absorbed on how I performed as a manager than that of my team. To add to that, I was demanding. That took a toil on how I lead.

I did a lot of self reflection over the sleepless nights and I began to focus on my folks, listening more than directing & solving problems. I refused to give up and kept working on my leadership to prove my naysayers wrong. I won them over by spending more time to know them at a personal level. Focusing on performance objectives and taking away my unconscious biases help too. We also celebrated success as a team.

By the 2nd year, I had the best performing team within the division, rolling out many firsts in the industry. My 2 managers were with me for >5 years. They not only supported me but they led their respective team well too. They rallied behind me.

I #LeanInand that was the start of my leadership journey. I was glad I pushed the limit & felt vindicated. 

My peers lost their bet.

Here are the three things I learned

(1)  Focus Outward

In leading a team, take a personal interest in your team members and be genuine. Value your people and demonstrate that you care in such a way that your followers know it. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and their well being. Have career conversations to understand their “Why” and support their development.

It’s Ok to over communicate. Be sure to clearly articulate a clear vision/strategy for the team to ensure alignment.

And don’t take things too seriously. When things don’t go well, focus on the actions rather than the person. Take risks and develop a learning culture. And celebrate success as a team.

(2)  Drive Accountability

Coaching unlocks a person’s potential by helping him understand his goals to drive accountability and motivation. Look for teachable moments, do not accumulate feedback till the annual reviews. In driving accountability (& commitment), always uphold a high standard, move goal poles for your staff so that they can keep improving. Followers want to work for bosses with high professional standards and integrity.

Be empathetic yet focus on performance objectives to ensure fairness.

(3)  Embrace Diversity

No man is an island. Many managers come in to a new role and try to replace the existing team with people of the same working style/type like them. I have learned the power of diversity. When I build team I always look for diversity in terms of personal strength eg. introvert vs extrovert, thinker vs feeler etc. It adds colour to the team but more importantly inject new ideas and drives a more collaborative culture.

Every new leadership opportunity presents a different experience as you work with different people. It’s important to develop self mastery and strive to be better.

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” Neale Donald Walsch

 About the Author

Adeline is an experienced Marketing Leader from Top Banks and Telco. A data driven marketer, she thrives in building brands, driving revenue growth and building team for peak performance. Her goal is to lead the charge to have a more data driven approach in marketing. Currently on a career break, she lends her marketing experience to help job seekers position and market themselves for the next career trajectory. She is also a mentor to undergraduates at social initiatives such as MentorsHub.