Defining Success In Her Own Terms

After Jacqui’s consulting business was impacted by the downturn in the resource industry, she used the opportunity to clear the clutter, allow defining success in her own terms and to discover the heart of her work: helping other women to flourish.

Jacqui pondered why so many women are time and energy-poor. Her answer; from trying to juggle their differing roles and meet the expectations of others. After some research Jacqui concluded that true success for women is best achieved when they define its meaning for themselves, so she created a self-coaching journal that will help them to do this.

CLARITY SIMPLICITY SUCCESS: A Self-Coaching Journal for Women is unique and beautifully illustrated. It will guide you, at your own speed, through self-reflecting questions and exercises designed to help you define your own idea of success. It’s like having a coach in your handbag.

In this article Jacqui shares her story about discovering the heart of her work.

Be yourself, it’s who you’re meant to be.

Those words were among the many farewell wishes written inside the oversized card. I’d seen plenty of similar quotes before, but this time I felt a jolt. As I write this 20 years later, the image of my manager’s inscription flits across my vision, and my throat constricts.

I was about to move across the other side of the country and embark upon an exciting new stage of my career. Conflicting emotions were swirling inside me and occasionally overflowing on the outside. I was struggling with the idea of moving so far while leaving behind a dying parent and a trailing spouse. Whether I was being myself wasn’t even a blip on my radar.

Why did he write those words? I had to know, so I asked. His answer was, ‘I see how hard you try to do your best, to do the right thing. It’s admirable but … you try too hard. I see you exhaust yourself unnecessarily without any real benefit. This change is a chance to practice being easier on yourself. It’s a chance to re-set and relax. Just be yourself.’

What did he know? Whatever I was doing it was me doing it, though I had to concede that he was right about one thing: I was trying hard. I was trying to be a good daughter, a good wife, successful at work, plus a few other things, all of which was normal for most women I knew – including my own mother.

As it turned out, he was also right about the opportunity presented by coming to WA; it was a chance to start afresh. Since then I’ve started afresh several times. I’ve moved away from and returned to WA. My work has given me opportunities which involved regularly working with new people, in new cities, and in new countries.

All that travel taught me much. I learned to pack only what I needed for my journey, and this made my large suitcase redundant. But despite downsizing to a carry-on case, my luggage still felt heavy. Then came my embarrassing airport episode. I was shuffling along in yet another queue, trailing my case behind me. When the line moved and I tried to pull it along, it wouldn’t come. Turning around I saw the man behind me had rested his heavy hold-all on my case. I lost it, but I won’t repeat here what I said there.

Later, as I was sitting in my hotel room, I had a stern chat with myself about my embarrassing behaviour. ‘What was that about, woman?!’ I asked myself. Then I remembered my manager’s inscription all those years beforehand. He was right. I wasn’t being myself.

I was carrying another invisible suitcase. It was loaded with fears, doubts, and judgements. Carrying it was weighing me down. I gave it a name: the ‘me-case’. Since then I’ve done a lot of unpacking and the me-case is considerably lighter. Doubtless, there are a few gremlins still hiding in secret compartments. I’ll get to those eventually. A few new ones will probably sneak in over time.

That’s okay because I’m a work in progress. We all are.

Putting my heart into my business.

I’d been consulting on major projects for big resources companies for over a decade. When the resources industry downturn hit, I first viewed it as a problem. I saw the hardships faced by my friends who lost their jobs and struggled to find another. The work I’d traditionally done became harder to find. If every problem is an opportunity, then I needed to find the gift hidden in this one.

After some time I realised I was already receiving the gift. Time. The downturn had given me time to take a closer look at the contents of the ‘me-case’. Being away from my busy-ness helped me to see the treasures inside. I saw beyond what I did and discovered why I did it.

Why? Because I love helping people flourish. I particularly love doing this for other women. Being called upon to provide mentorship and coaching is one of the greatest of my joys.

Many of the women I’ve met were grappling with baggage that was eerily similar to the stuff I’d tossed out of the ‘me-case’. I noticed a pattern I hadn’t seen before. They were trying to work through the challenges of juggling their various roles and trying to be successful at all of them.

Why is this so challenging for women? What is success anyway?

I went looking for answers. I found a lot of interesting research – and even more advice for women about how to be successful. It made my head spin! I started to feel disheartened. Trying to follow all the advice was like playing a game of Twister whilst juggling a gin and tonic. It’s impossible not to spill your drink while playing a game that requires you to bend over backwards.

What could I do to help as many women as possible? The answer came soon enough: work on the heart of the matter – the definition of success.

To help time-poor women free up their emotional energy and define success in their own terms, I’ve spent the past year creating a self-coaching journal. It walks you through steps to discover your answers, and create your definition of success. It doesn’t tell you what to do or how to be.

It’s written from my heart. I hope it will help those who use it. If it does, then I will have achieved my success. After all, that inscription from 20 years ago is a message to us all.

At the time of writing this post CLARITY SIMPLICITY SUCCESS: A Self-Coaching Journal for Women is being printed here in Perth by Scott Print. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the wonderful Claire George from Qalam Design and Emma Francesca, Illustrator who have taken great care with the design and production. Claire juggles being the full-time mum of two boys under the age of 4 with running her own business. Emma is a talented artist who lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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