“Why are you not walking in YOUR truth? Are you afraid of what others may think of you?,” asked Alicia Canaday Adamson, the Founder & CEO of the Young Black Women’s Society (YBWS), at YBWS’s first Next Generation Women of Color Summit. The Summit took place at the Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center on May 31, 2012.
Attended by high-school-age girls and professional women, the room was filled with women pioneers who have set the bar high, not only for themselves, but also for future generations. Keynote speaker, Colette Phillips, Founder & CEO of CPC Communications and Get Konnected, delivered a positive message about achieving your goals and creating your own legacy in life. Nicole Roberts Jones, Chairwoman & CEO of iDEFINE, moderated a panel of dynamic and diverse women who have achieved their dreams and beyond. These women include: Dr. Lisa M. Coleman, Chief Diversity Officer, Harvard University; Kim Dukes-Rivers, Founder & CEO, Diversity Staffing Pros LLC; Pamela D. Everhart, Senior Vice President, Fidelity Investments; Lourdes German, Attorney; Lisa Wong, Mayor of Fitchburg. They shared with us their personal journeys and pathways they walked along to get to their current destinations. Recurring themes in each of their messages were about “managing your own expectations” and how to “know yourself,”  “use your voice,” “execute fast and navigate proficiently,” “build strategic relationships,” ” have confidence,” and “apply all acquired skills to your life”.
As a young professional myself, working in a small non-profit, defining my own path and edifying my own legacy, I was inspired by these trailblazing women. I placed myself in the shoes of the woman I would like to become. During the “Branding Yourself” workshop led by Juliette C. Mayers, author of A Black Woman’s Guide to Networking, we were taught about the three C’s : competence, credibility, and confidence. The first C, competence, resonated with me the most. During my professional development, I had learned that although I am highly competent in my work, and I accomplish my goals, I had to be aware that it is okay to ask for help. This is one area in my life with which I struggle; however, after receiving constructive and positive feedback from my supervisor, I appreciated her willingness to share with me something that will help me for the better. Mayers states that “in order to help understand your own brand, you have to be willing to ask others to share with you about you because it is the only way to grow.” I have always considered myself to be receptive and open to constructive feedback, but I was unaware that I had to give others that permission to share that space with me. At that moment, I realized that it’s not going to take just me to be where I need to go, but that it takes a team to succeed in life.
To answer the initial two questions, Adamson left us with these words to ponder: “Fear is false evidence of feeling real. Let go of your past and forgive yourself. Are you ready to be used for your purpose? Allow your heart to lead, and it will not steer you wrong.”
Are you walking in your truth? What legacy would you like to leave behind?