The following is a guest post from my business partner, Jane Perdue. It explains the genesis of Get Your Big On. On Friday I will share my Live BIG Story!
For 15 years I thought I was living the dream after achieving my goal of becoming a Vice President for Fortune 100 companies. I was perpetually on the lookout for the next big title, big project and big deal. Then, after a merger, a new boss described me as “Aunt Polly” to the new firm’s CEO. He failed to mention all the impossible assignments delivered ahead of time and below budget, cultures transformed, 80-hour work weeks - not a word about of that, just “Aunt Polly.”
I was astonished and asked him what he meant. He said it meant that people viewed me as someone they could sit down beside in a rocking chair, pour out their issues, then get inspired with a plan and go back to work. The acquiring company was male dominated, lots of mavericks and cowboys dolled up as GQ cover boys. And I had been introduced to them as Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly took up unwanted residence in my heart and head in the succeeding months. I wrestled with her, and her demeaning (to me) introduction to the highest echelons of power within the new organization, almost daily. I made sure the work of my department was brilliant, on point and above reproach. Let’s show those fellas what ole Aunt Polly can do.
Yet Aunt Polly was a cosmic two-by-four, delivering a whack across my head and to my heart, opening internal doors corporate life had long ago sealed shut. Aunt Polly forced me to revisit my childhood goals of making a difference. Sure, by corporate standards I had made a difference. However, in terms of making a real and meaningful impact on someone’s life, rather than just making a buck, had I really made a difference? That was the question Aunt Polly kept whispering. She had become my constant mental companion, forcing me gaze into the picture of my life. Forcing me to examine my contributions in another light. Relentlessly forcing me to probe deeper, revisit my values, assess my purpose. Damn that woman and damn my boss for putting her there.
It took me a long time to understand that I had been chasing the wrong big. My right big was knowing myself, my strengths, what was important to me, and then using that knowledge and years of experience to help other people grow wings and get their big on.
Getting your big on is that “just right” feeling you have in your head and heart when you know what’s important to you - and you are going after it. Your big might be something tangible like a promotion or starting your own business. Or it could be something intangible like volunteering or inspiring others. Either way, you’re going after something that matters - BIG time - to you.
My boss had really given me a compliment, a gift, one that took me a long time to recognize and appreciate. So I left Corporate America to run a female-owned professional development firm where we bring seekers and solvers together to lead big, work big and live big. To be closer to family, we moved from the West Coast to the south, where sweet tea is the house wine - and Aunt Polly’s inspirational beverage of choice in helping others get their big on.