By the time the final day of Black Woman Leading Live arrived, I was feeling energized, renewed, and full of newfound knowledge.
Black Woman Leading Coach Felicia Tate kicked off the morning with a session called “Mindset Matters: Embracing Growth over Perfection.” “Mindset” is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. Mindset influences how you think, feel and behave in any given situation. Your mindset impacts your success or failure. Felicia shared the importance of flexibility to a growth mindset (“flexible people aren’t bent out of shape”) and emphasized that sometimes when we’re confronting our fears and working toward a growth mindset, this journey can get worse before it gets better, or get harder before it gets easier. She asked the audience to reflect on these questions:
- What is currently holding me back from embracing growth over perfection?
- What do I need to release in order for me to fully embrace a growth mindset?
- What does embracing growth look like for me?
Felicia shared this quote that really stayed with me after the session and now that I’m home and reflecting: “Your mindset is the compass that guides your journey. Embracing growth over perfection is extremely vital to how you choose to show up for the experience.” For me, “embracing growth” definitely means re-examining my need for perfection. I’m a “recovering perfectionist” who has to work to keep that perfectionism mindset at bay sometimes, so this topic was especially impactful for me.
Grace and Self-Compassion
Next, we heard from Black Woman Leading Coach Karma Hill, whose topic was “Giving Grace: Self-Compassion Skills to Support your Wellness.” Karma shared two quotes to get us thinking about the topic of grace and compassion:
- “Self-compassion involves directing sensitivity inwardly to our own experience of suffering along with a deep desire to alleviate the suffering.” (Kristen Neff)
- “Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” (Christopher Germer)
We learned that self-compassion is not self-pity, self-indulgence, making excuses, being passive or complacent. Rather, self-compassion is about self-kindness versus self-judgment; a sense of common humanity versus isolation; and mindfulness versus over-identification when confronting painful self-relevant thoughts and emotions. We even took the time for a Tender Self Compassion Break so we can practice that for ourselves to take forward after our time together. Karma reminded us that: All humans are imperfect; we deserve kindness; and we all have life challenges and need to give ourselves grace.
Wrapping Up and Keeping the Momentum Going
Black Woman Leading founder Laura Knights closed the conference and retreat reminding us of our intentions that we created on Day 1 and the action steps that we have been creating through the conference.
As the conference closed we were reminded “I am everything I want to be. I have everything I need.” via this song. Laura also told us not to forget to schedule an “appointment” with ourselves within the next two weeks to work on our actions. No matter how informative and inspiring a conference or retreat may be, it’s so easy to get caught up in our day to day lives and back to “business as usual” when we get home—I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past, so I really needed this reminder to intentionally set aside time in the next few weeks to tackle the action steps I committed to at the retreat.
I especially needed to set my “follow-up” appointment because I had barely any time to take a breath post-summit! The very day the Black Woman Leading LIVE conference concluded, I was off to Atlanta for several days to lead coaching trainings at an annual conference for AmeriCorps members that the nonprofit I work for hosts. I was asked to lead 3 three-hour coaching training sessions, which is really just a “teaser” or introduction to coaching—but I was still a little nervous about preparing all my materials in time and getting back into in-person training after a long pivot to virtual during the pandemic.
As I was getting prepared for my training on Tuesday, I realized that I didn’t print enough materials so I would need to find somewhere to do some extra printing. I was really beating myself up about not being fully prepared but as I was walking to the local FedEx Office I saw this mural which has one of my favorite MLK quotes:
Reflecting on the meaning of this quote and all of my experience coming off Black Woman Leading LIVE—especially the sessions about letting go of my pursuit for perfection and giving myself grace—helped calm my nerves and remind me that I’ve trained and practiced for delivering exactly this type of training.
Once the training started, that comfort level immediately returned—and it was so great to be back training in person instead of connecting with participants through little Zoom squares on screen! I led the participants through one of my favorite coaching activities, in which they break into small groups that each come up with an image, word, song title or some other creative way to describe several common service delivery methods—counseling, training, mentoring, and coaching—and to note the ways they differ from one another.
I love this exercise because it not only helps participants understand how coaching is unique from counseling, training, and mentoring, but I get to see so many different forms of creativity! We had some groups share songs which they shared on their phone. We had some groups who had artists in their group, so they drew images. We had a few skits—for example, one group acted out a scene where everyone was in an elevator together with someone and the elevator got stuck. One person in the elevator acted out having a panic attack and each of the other group members assisted the person as a counselor, trainer, mentor, or coach would do. The exercise allows individuals to think about how these roles have some similarities, but they are also some distinct things as well. (I’ll share more about those similarities and differences in a future blog post!)
In addition to the excitement of this conference being back in person for the first time since 2019, for the first time the audience included not only AmeriCorps members but interns from my employer’s internship program for HBCU (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) students. Being an HBCU alum myself and having built a two decade-plus career in the nonprofit and community economic development industries, it was especially meaningful to me to have this opportunity to connect with the next generation of emerging leaders.
As you might have picked up from reading my blog posts this month, Black Woman Leading—both the live conference + retreat and the leadership program—have been transformative for me, both personally and professionally. If you’re a Black woman, here are some great ways that you can connect with the Black Woman Leading Community:
- Listen to the Podcast
- Join the interest list for next year’s Retreat & Conference
- Check out the programs for early career, mid-career and executives.
- Follow Black Woman Leading on social media
For the rest of my readers, I invite you to listen to the Podcast and share information about Black Woman Leading with Black women family, friends, or colleagues in your lives.
Inspired by all of the wisdom about self-compassion and self-care that I learned at Black Woman Leading LIVE, I’ll be taking a break from posting next Thursday to give myself some time to unwind and tackle some of those action items from the summit. But I’ll be back with a new blog series in July and look forward to reconnecting with you then!