Being You

As a college student, Sally had a “take no prisoners” approach to group projects.  If you were on a project with her, you better not let her down.  She didn’t yell or cuss or threaten.  She had a stare that no one would ever forget if you were the subject of her disappointment.

When Sally graduated, she became a project manager for one of the nation’s largest construction companies.  She was the first woman hired to be a project manager.  She got the position largely as the result of her faculty advisor/mentor.  He was able to convince a former classmate who was a V.P. at the company to hire Sally.

From the very beginning, Sally proved her value.  Her organizational skills were exceptional.  She was terrific at forward thinking and anticipating problems.  The “Sally stare” was respected because she approached projects with a results focus.

Sally was quickly asked to take a project management position in an underperforming division of the company.  What she found was a division run under a “good ole boy” network.  It didn’t take long for Sally to confront the poor performance of the labor pool, the lack of responsiveness of subcontractors, and the “it happens” attitude of supply management.  She started holding everyone accountable and overall performance was dramatically improved.

The only problem was that her boss was getting complaints about Sally’s approach.  While he didn’t use the B word, he certainly implied that was how she was known.

Shaken, Sally called her mentor from college.  After she described her situation, her mentor’s advice was very concise:  “Sally, be Sally.”  They then talked about how she should never let someone else define her or try to change what were her strengths.

Sally took the advice and 20 years later was named the CEO of the company.  The first woman to hold such a position in a male dominated industry.  Sally’s rise in the company also changed the gender mix.  Over one-half of the project managers are now women.

Early in most successful persons’ lives, they discover what makes them unique.  It’s what distinguishes them from others.  While these success traits are valued, they can also be threatening to others.  Early performance reviews may indicate that these success traits are a problem, just as Sally experienced.  But successful people will not let these reviews dampen how they will eventually be valued by others on their success journey.

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“Personality is every individual’s signature trait.  There will never be anyone like you, therefore
hold on to what makes you so special as a person, a character, and a human being.”
– Anonymous

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