“True leaders are not focused on themselves and their achievements, but rather on others and their personal and professional growth.” (1) It’s only when you realize that it’s not about you that you begin to lead at a higher level. How do we begin to acknowledge the people who’ve blessed our lives in amazing ways? By taking the time to breathe in the intertwining and view the mapping of their tapestry to ours.
I was not fully aware 12 years ago how intricately woven the intertwining would be of the women who had been in my life and those who would come to be. I came to New Directions for Women to spread my wings and answer an inner calling. As I’d come to realize, leaders don’t often speak about the loneliness of leadership. Not much is shared about how they get through each day, or where the strength, energy and courage come from. As I’ve come to know, though eagles fly alone, they’re surrounded by powerful Angels.
I’ve had many “Calgon, take me away” moments, and I don’t know how many “red eyes” I’ve taken, but it’s a lot. None of it could have been possible without the generations of men and women supporting and mentoring me along my journey. Sometimes on a red eye when I’m alone, wondering where to take the next step, I’m inspired by the memory of Peg Diehl’s words: “Just suit up and show up and do the next right thing.”
Peggy Diehl knew how to “deal” with life. As the co-founder of Seabrook House, and as my role model and mentor, she taught me leadership skills. She showed me how to put the “l” in lady. A sharp dresser, a shoe-aholic, and a lover of shopping, Peg gifted me with a new pair of shoes at every shopping spree. I literally and figuratively did not wear a pair of my own shoes for 25 years—not one pair. That was part of her legacy to me. Her shoes, like angel wings, helped me walk through life. In times of doubt, I imagine them on my feet, showing me where the next step is.
Faith Strong was the epitome of “faith” and “strong.” Recognized as the first person to bring Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) behind the Iron Curtain, Faith always said, “As human beings, we all have much more to give than we do. We have much more depth and weight and ability than we realize. All things are possible.” It has taken tremendous faith and tremendous strength to create what we have here at New Directions, and Faith has been with us in every step of the creating.
Dot Clock, chair of the board when the money was raised to build Founders House in 1984 (the first building to be built at New Directions for Women), always had time—time to do this and time to do that. She showed us we had more than enough time, time to raise money, and time to get done what was needed. Dot spearheaded the board, forged forward, always right on the dot, and right on time to take us to what was needed at that moment. She continued taking us to the next step, the next level, and the next part of our creation.