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Women’s History Month: Five Reflections on Leadership

SHP

An accomplished and inspiring leader, Lauren Della Bella is the first female president in SHP’s 120-year history. So — in honor of both Women’s History Month and our 120th anniversary — it felt only right to ask Lauren to reflect back on her career. Here, she offers a few reflections through the lens of advice to her younger self.

Dear Lauren,

The future is exciting… and scary, but you have what it takes to be great. Take a breath, close your eyes and imagine your future. Paint a vivid picture in your mind of what you want. Think about the details.

Does the image you’re picturing match your passions? Will you commit to it even when it seems unattainable? Have you left room for the inevitable detours that may be daunting, but will ultimately make the journey richer? Have you forgotten anything?

It’s ok. Life is always going to have some surprises. Knowing what you want is just the beginning.

The journey is half the fun, so no matter how tempting it is to speed through life to reach the next step, take your time to have many experiences. Enjoy them! Along the way, remember a few important lessons:

1. Surround yourself with really good people.

You cannot achieve your dreams alone. Really good people – friends, colleagues, peers – will challenge you, help you and make you better. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. The smartest people in the room surround themselves with people they can learn from. Be the person whom other people will truly value by being who you are. Be humble and never lose sight of the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know. Always be open to learning.

2. Build trust.

Trust is essential to your personal and professional relationships, and to everything you hope to accomplish. People will support you and help you if they trust you and believe in your intentions. While you are building trust, remember that everyone thinks, communicates and listens differently. Don’t lose your ability to be empathetic. Put yourself in their shoes and remember to see things from other perspectives. Relationships are a two-way street, so give as much if not more than you hope to receive.

3. Think strategically.

Cultivate your ability to see and understand the big picture, but remember to sweat the small stuff. As they say, “The devil is in the details.” Often, the obvious is the most important. Every experience, good or bad, contributes to the person you will become. Take advantage of all that you can. When opportunities present themselves, don’t hold back. When they don’t, go find them.

4. Enjoy the highs and don’t run from the lows.

It’s easy to embrace those things that are exciting, but your character will be measured by what tests you. The things you work the hardest for are the most rewarding.

5. Don’t confuse the professional life and the personal life.

Both need to be a priority, even if they aren’t weighted equally all the time. Just don’t let it become too one-sided for too long. It sounds cliché, but try to find that work-life balance. It’s the only way to achieve happiness on both ends of the spectrum.

 

Live your life fully, because one day you will take measure of your life. You’ll realize what you’re proudest of will be the adventures and risks you took, not how much money you made or the job title printed on your business card. Remember to enjoy all the beautiful details your life offers. Follow this advice and you will flourish!

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