In two weeks, I board a plane to Europe. It is more than just vacation, it is an investment in myself. I think that may be the coolest part. For my very first trip to London, I am taking on a personal and professional development opportunity with other women from all over the world.
I applied for & received a scholarship to attend the Trailblazing Leadership conference for women in London, England in June of 2015. My attendance at the conference was covered but I needed to cover travel and accomodations. If a hopeful, young Chicago woman like myself wanted to go to London & be forever changed by this dynamic and influential experience, I needed financial help getting there.
The conference is being hosted by Dr. Sam Collins, Founder & Director of the Aspire Foundation. I attended the “International Women’s Day Trailblazing Leadership” webinar hosted by Dr. Collins in early March of this year. I created a vision board for the first time this year. One of my visions for my personal and professional life was to establish a lifestyle blog to help individuals be the best versions of themselves because I have learned we are worthy of the best life has to offer…in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. So I loved the trailblazing webinar and felt motivated and inspired to further achieve my personal & professional vision. I live-tweeted the webinar, virtually connected with inspiring women around the world and applied for an opportunity to attend the conference. I received notice April 1 that my application was selected and I was awarded a scholarship to attend. I was thrilled to receive the news of course but then began the brainstorm for funding my trip so I could attend, be safe and bring my leadership back to my life and various communities in Chicago.
At this upcoming Aspire ‘Trailblazing Leadership’ conference, I can celebrate the inspiration, support and strength that women give to others around the world. I can share ideas, network and learn. It is an opportunity to highlight the power and strength of women, like myself, to be dynamic leaders in this world.
By attending I will:
1. Gain practical tools and ideas to achieve my biggest aspirations for life, work and the world.
2. Think bigger, vision even bigger and go for it – overcoming obstacles and fear.
3. Be inspired by like-minded women leaders and increase the visibility of inspiring women around the world.
4. Evolve my skills as an intrapreneur (entrepreneurial mindset inside my organization), entrepreneur (within my own business) and altrupreneur (in a charity or social business).
5. Learn how to stand my ground and have a voice at the leadership table at any age, level or background.
6. Network and share best practices among women globally.
I realize more and more that being myself, standing out and wanting to make a difference is fundamental to success. I want to be an authentic and real role model for the next generation, empowering and supporting women and men around the world.
I am making a dream into reality. But it didn’t just happen. Sometimes we want what we want the easy way but things worth having in life don’t always come or stay easy. The things worth having will challenge you, expand your mind, encourage your growth and demand action out of you.
And just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s bad either. It just means if it is worth the work, you will put in work for it — love, family, your personal health & happiness, career, spirituality, etc.
I have not always put that “it may not be easy but it will be worth it” philosophy into practice right away. When it came to London, I was excited to have the opportunity then immediately put myself under stress and pressure. How was I going to make this happen?? I wanted to go but wanting to go would not purchase my plane ticket or do the research I needed to plan the trip. I had to take action. I had to ask for help and accept the help offered. I had to make moves.
I took advice on cheap but safe accomodations and booked my first AirBnB. I signed up for airfare watch websites to find the cheapest direct flight possible. My friends helped me search for flight deals. I created a GoFundMe account, after a friend’s suggestion and was able to raise money to help me afford this trip I would have otherwise not been able to afford. I stopped being shy and started telling people about my goal and they wanted to help me. It has been the most affirming yet humbling experience.
On the scholarship application, I answered a question about what I hoped to get out of attending the conference I discussed this blog that I had not yet created. I talked about creating this blog, gaining ground on my vision and learning from the experiences, challenges, obstacles and triumphs of the individuals I will meet in a few weeks.
I have been unsure for too long on how I would make my dreams come true instead of wait for them to come true. Though still finding strength in my voice, now that I am at least speaking up, it feels amazing to have people affirm my vision. The late and great Maya Angelou said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” It is a supreme truth and I’m a believer in it.
What dreams and goals do you need to make a move on?