Updated: Sep 21, 2018
Returning To Work & Beating The Nay-Sayers
By Lindsey Coen-Fernandez
"You don’t have a Stanford MBA and you’re too old!”
At the end of the dot com bust, I left the corporate world and for the next 9 years owned a wellness company. In 2010, I sold the business and moved to Hong Kong. I went on to study mandarin for a year and that kept me out of the “mainstream workforce” for over 10 years. But after an extensive break, I started to miss coaching others with behavior modification so I decided to transition back into the corporate world. What was I thinking, right?
I was greeted with an avalanche of negative narratives.
“There are so many expat-wives who think they can accompany their husbands abroad and get a job earning what they did before.” From a recruiter.
“You’ve been an entrepreneur, so you’ve not really been working!” A leader of a multi-national software organization.
“Your resume doesn’t make you look as smart as you are now that I’ve spoken to you!” Someone who I ended up working with.
“My biggest challenge? Hiring people like you. Because I have a quota I need to achieve for women leaders.” A global high-tech company.
So, what was my response?
“Look, when I’m back in the corporate world you’ll pay for me to spend a weekend at The Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong! Oh, and by the way, stop asking me for advice for all the complicated challenges that you, a Stanford MBA holder, can’t solve!”
Telling me I couldn’t do something had the equivalent effect of pouring gasoline onto a fire – BOOM!
In Angela Duckworth’s recently published book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Duckworth writes that GRIT is a better predicator of success in the workplace than talent. The power of GRIT is triggered by the “I’ll prove you wrong” response.
My GRIT was magnified by my eco-network or circle of champions who were inextricably linked to my actions and outcomes. First, my spouse of 25 years – “Don’t listen to them – you founded and sold a successful business, you’ve run marathons, climbed mountains and accomplished whatever you’ve put your mind to! How is this any different!” It wasn’t – so I channeled my GRIT!
There were many who fueled the GRIT train - a colleague invited me to every exec women’s networking event in Hong Kong. Another introduced me to friends in her network – and stayed in contact to check in on my journey. And one friend flat out reminded me, “Don’t believe an “f-ing” word of the nay-sayers – you’re the BOMB!” These were just a few of my cheerleaders - like running a marathon or climbing a mountain, GRIT and determination are essential ingredients to success. THIS, is how we build a community that fuels the GRIT within each of us.
Did I prove the nay-sayers wrong, YES! I’ve been working with senior leaders around the globe helping them expand their thinking to become leaders who have a lasting impact on business and those around them. When we lift others UP and help each other drown out the external and internal negative narratives that hold us back, we ignite the power of our potential! We deliver momentum! WHO will you champion today so they can reach your highest potential?
I'm a global Analytic-Network coach who is passionate about helping people do the best work of their lives. At UP, a team of people with similar backgrounds, will help you explore your strengths, your shadows, your networking and how you harness your potential within that space.
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GRIT, By Angela Duckworth