You know, I’m just no good at saying “no.” I have been working on it, from strategies I’ve learned from the “Saying No” class we offer from time to time at the Finishing School. I am making progress. I think part of the problem is that I have a “fear of missing out,” otherwise known as FoMO, which is such a common issue, scientists have studied it. Even when I was a child, I never wanted to go to bed, concerned that I’d miss out on something good. I still stay up too late.
So, when Denise Sherman, chair of the Know Your Worth Women’s Leadership Conference asked me to be co-chair of this year’s conference, I really had to think about it. I’d already written the email in my head, declining the offer, when I ran into Denise at the Wichita Chamber of Commerce’s Honors Night. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was something too good to say “no” to. I was right. Collaborating with a team of 14 dedicated, influential, brilliant women was a very rewarding experience. So much so, I agreed to do it again next year!
Know Your Worth Conference Committee (Missing: Anita Greenwood)
On September 29, 180 women from all over Kansas gathered downtown, at the Kansas Leadership Center, for the second annual Know Your Worth conference. I loved seeing so many Finishing School students at the event! It helped me feel less nervous to get up and speak in front an audience of accomplished, professional women, with all the supportive, friendly faces in the crowd.
Here's where co-chair, Denise Sherman, and I announce we're doing the conference again next year!
The morning keynote speaker was Karen S. Carter, the Chief Inclusion Officer at Dow Chemical, who inspired us to “FEAR Less. LIMIT Less.” It was hard to choose which breakout sessions to attend after that, with two sessions of three different choices in Workplace, Community and Personal categories. Two of our Finishing School’s co-teachers were breakout session speakers at the conference. Jenny Wiley, who co-teaches “Breaking Through” with us, did a fantastic session on “Getting Uncomfortable.” Connie Porazka helped us find our center at the conference in the “Meditation to Joy” session and will be teaching “Just Breathe” with us in August. (Learn more about all the speakers here.)
Karen S. Carter, Keynote Speaker at the Know Your Worth Women's Leadership Conference
I was honored to team up with Julia McBride to plan and present our “You are a Superhero!” workshop for the afternoon Keynote session. We took everyone on a mapped adventure, to find our inner superhero and help forge new relationships for future collaboration. One of the most rewarding things about the conference for me, was the opportunity to work with Julia, who I respect as a visionary educator, leader and friend.
One of the things I like most about bringing women together for events, like our classes at the Finishing School and this conference, is the magic that happens when we're all together. Connecting with other women to exchange ideas, solve problems, work on ourselves and laugh is powerful. At the conference, I saw women open up and share their thoughts with complete strangers, to walk away feeling stronger and more connected as sisters.
As we mature and get busier, it's harder to make and maintain female friendships. I think this happens for lots of reasons, and usually more than one.
Women who had close female friends when they were younger, lose touch with these friends when marriage, babies and life become a bigger part of their lives.
Since girls can be very competitive and cruel growing up, some women have been burned more times by so called "girl friends" then any man, and gave up trying to have close women friends.
Women lose touch with women work friends when they change jobs, and don’t find the time to keep up with these friends, when they aren’t at work together anymore.
Some women felt more comfortable with their male friends when they were younger, and never forged close relationships with other women.
Moving to other cities for work or marriage takes women away from the friends they grew up with. Finding the time and resources to make new friends, besides ones at work, gets harder when we’re busy with our careers.
As we get older, and we lose our close long-time friends, we aren’t sure where to go to make new ones, as if a new friend could ever give the same depth and history as the one we’ve lost.
Could these reasons be why we isolate ourselves and give up on relationships that go beyond acquaintances?
But what this ignores, is that we need each other. That taking the risk of being vulnerable and asking someone out on a “girlfriend date” is so worth the effort!
Because, as we get older, we need our sisters more than ever.
They are there for us in crisis and celebration. Divorces, deaths and loss; good times, successes and minor miracles. Our women friends inspire, encourage and support us to take big risks, to say enough is enough, slap us back to reality when we need it and to help us navigate this crazy time on earth we call life.
I couldn’t have accomplished much of what I’ve been able to do, or thrived through the crushing blows I’ve been dealt, if it weren’t for my sisters.
We need a network of women in our professional lives too. Men have the “Good Old Boys” club. These are relationships that men forge outside the boardroom, usually on golf courses, country clubs, sporting events and private clubs, like fraternities. This is where business gets done and decisions are made on who will be successful and who will not. Unfortunately, these are places where women usually aren’t included, keeping us from serious business transactions and conversations.
As women, we need to come together and support each other too. But rather than our club being about excluding people, let’s make our club about empowering each other and lifting each other up.
Instead of an Old Boys Club, we can have a Worthy Women’s Club!
Now this isn’t an organization you can join. This is an informal coming together of women who can help each other be more successful. Just like finding “mentors,” we have to find the right fit; women we can collaborate with. We have to put ourselves out there, work together and see who we click with.
A big part of mastering how to say “no,” is knowing when to say “yes.” Agreeing to co-chair this conference has helped me find new members for my own Worthy Women’s Club. I’m excited to collaborate with them again, for the conference next year and beyond.
Who is in your club?