We were recently Experts in Residence for the Bullish Society, a community that offers aggressive lady advice for people who want to do their own thing. For our residency, we focused on knowing your values, the cornerstone of being an authentic leader from anywhere on the totem pole of authority. The discussions we had there inspired Kara and I to re-examine our own values… because that process never gets old, and always yields some new insights.
During my not-so-great experience with a big, fancy consulting job straight out of college, I had to walk through the “figuring out your values” journey without really knowing that was what I was doing. When I finally did come out the other side of it, I left my corporate gig in NYC and boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Argentina where I had enrolled myself in Spanish language immersion and 30 hours of tango classes a week. What I was seeking was Adventure.
I come from a family where both my parents are adventurers (even in their retirement they live full-time on a sailboat and are currently sailing the world) and my sisters and I were raised on larger-than-life stories of their adventures in countries all over the globe. At the age of 24 – even though I had a great job by everyone else’s standards – I had some serious FOMO because I wasn’t creating an arsenal of stories that were about ME. What was I going to tell my hypothetical kids about if I didn’t have wild adventures of my own? My “figuring out my values” journey revealed for me that I needed my life to be about collecting epic stories, and I needed to honor Adventure to do that.
That’s how I then set myself up to live out the rest of my twenties. I learned Tango and Spanish in Argentina, I built wind-turbine electric systems on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, I dated a small-time drug lord (ok, maybe that was a bad decision), I lived in Rwanda worked on their public health system, I road tripped across Tanzania and Mozambique… I Adventured.
I went to business school because I started to feel a familiar pang. It wasn’t the same desperate “get me out of here” feeling I had when I was 24, but it was of the same ilk: Something wasn’t quite right. My business school years were a chance for me to put a comma in my life – take a break and re-center. So I set out on that “figuring out my values” journey again, this time with a bit more purpose. What I discovered was that my mama-bear value of Adventure had shifted. I didn’t need any more epic stories of getting mugged at gun point or shaken down for thousands of dollars by the cops (yes, those both happened). The adventure I wanted wasn’t about adrenaline or glory or being wild anymore. I wanted an adventure that I could undertake for the longer term. I wanted to build something. Now, in my 30s, I find myself in the process of building a business. It took a while to come around to it, but it’s exactly what I need to live my value of Adventure right now.
What mama-bear value have you held onto for a long time, even though the way it showed up for you has shifted?
-- Stephanie Judd, cofounder, wolf & heron