My values are what are keeping me grounded during this time. The work I embarked on early this year with the support of Janice Cunning and her leadership coaching has been crucial to keeping me a little sane during these times, and I feel privileged to have had this opportunity.
As part of this process, my goals were: to identify my superpowers, understand how could I expand my influence for more significant impact in my work, and most importantly, ground my leadership as I took action on the challenges and dreams that I have for my team, my organization and the feminist movement.
I make it a practice to continually check within myself on my perceived values to move with coherence through the intricacies of our sector and the fundraising profession. I believed that writing down and naming my values one more time early in 2020 would not have been so much of a challenge. This was my first challenge as I worked with Janice towards my coaching goals.
It was a real surprise to find myself struggling to articulate my true why! My core values and how they express in my daily life, at home, at work, with friends. I got there eventually but what I deeply appreciated of this process was my understanding of how I got to that point and how, by naming them, I could make so many other connections.
What did I do? I asked my friends, family, and colleagues about what their perception was about me and my values, and that opened an opportunity to further connect with them. They spoke about tenacity, trust-wordiness, visionary – clarity of ideas to action. I took those that repeated the most, and I was so surprised and humbled that I thought they just shared this because they loved me.
Yes, as with many women out there, it is not enough to receive this positive feedback. Yes, imposter syndrome kicks-in, so what I needed to do next was to search for evidence.
I looked at my history at work, in my relationships, and successfully found that I have navigated a considerable variety of challenges to get to where I am today. Perseverance and tenacity was a big piece of the puzzle. Coherently moving through work and, most importantly, with integrity is deeply ingrained in my DNA for so many reasons. Finally, clarity of ideas is something I work hard to enable as I move at work, see the now and the beyond and thread a path to make it happen!
In this process, I also faced something that I recently discovered by listening to Susan David on emotional agility, and how your emotions point to our values. And within this identifying my shadow values, and that they were so important, especially when we face uncomfortable feelings with ourselves, with a situation, and with others.
A shadow value is one we hold very firmly, but for so many reasons, we do not want to admit to them. They play on us when we find ourselves in a conflict that threatens something that we strongly value. Pride and recognition, competitiveness, and ambition are some of those I found in myself identifying in my traits and behaviours and that only one good friend openly shared with me.
What do you do when your emotions are pointing to your values? Creating this time to build my awareness and use this information for my growth is inspiring. This process expanded the way I see myself, now with great compassion and, for sure, moved me to a different level to understand my emotions as temporary and reflective of my values. I can be with my emotions because I am learning every day more about myself on this journey to greater emotional agility.
Isabel Pérez-Doherty is Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Impact at YWCA Canada. She is a multilingual non-for-profit management professional with over 15 years’ experience in international organizations in the UK, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. When Isabel is not immersed in the world of Philanthropy, you will find her snooping into the intersections of gender, ecology, equity and strategy for positive change, as well as maximizing the joys that home family life can bring.