Contribute Your Whole Self

Photo of Mary Alice Colvin

A dear friend passed away recently in a tragic, unexpected accident. This special person lived life to the fullest, embracing the concept that each day is a gift - “that’s why it is called the present.”

This huge loss served as a reminder that the world can be a better place if we each contribute with our whole self to our work, our home life, and our community. My friend certainly did.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to facilitate a dynamic “Lean In” business discussion between executives, managers, and 127 employees.  Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently authored a book, Lean In, an ambitious contribution to the dialogue regarding women, work, and the will to lead. If you’ve not yet personally benefited from the rich discussions taking place in high tech corridors, online, and in living rooms vis-a-vis this book, one highlight is her focus upon “sitting at the table.”

Have you ever walked into a room and purposely sat back in your chair at the outer perimeter?  What could you have contributed if you sat at the table, leaned forward, and shared your unique perspective?

If the next discussion you have with your boss, your colleague, your parent, your spouse, your friend, or your child was your last - did you contribute everything you needed or wanted to say?

You and I each have unique perspectives. Each of us has skills, background, and experiences that help us observe what could make a situation better.  As a consultant I listen carefully and then share my ideas and back up those concepts with action that helps the clients, team members, and community. As Sheryl stated so eloquently in a June 2013 Commencement speech:

Your life’s course will not be determined by doing the things that you are certain you can do.  Those are the easy things.  It will be determined by whether you try the things that are hard.  The jobs you want, realize you are not qualified for, and then work like crazy to get the necessary skills.  The times when you see things nobody else sees, and fear speaking out but you speak out anyway… and convince everyone else. Those are the moments where you can have real impact.

The increased complexity of work and life requires dimensional contributions from diverse perspectives. Your observations are unique and can lead the path to innovation and inclusiveness. Now is the time to make your mark, share your unique talents, time and interests, and have a real impact. Lean into life!