Lessons of a 20-Something Year Old
Happy New Year Everyone!
To start of this year of blogging I thought you might enjoy Michele Wong's inspiring story below. I met Michele last November at a Young Women In Law Charity Gala which was held to raise money for the Belinda Stronach Foundation. I was struck by Michele's brimming enthusiasm and clear passion for her work and life. This became even more evident to me as we met over coffee a few weeks later. Michele has clearly found her "Element", the place where her talents and passions intersect (for more on this topic, see this post). She agreed to write up her story so I could share it with you. Here it is:
Lessons of a 20-something year old, by Michele Wong
Until recently, I never thought of myself as someone who leads an extraordinary life. My name is Michele Wong and I am 26 years old. I am currently the Director for Girls and Women programming at The Belinda Stronach Foundation.
On the occasion that I am asked what lead me to where I am today, I find myself really having to think about it. The short answer is that I have a need for action. I just love being in the thick of it.
Upon graduating from university, I began my "career" in politics. I say "career", because in politics, it's not a conscious choice. It is something that many fall into, and for the few who survive, it evolves into something extraordinary. My first role involved organizing events and logistics for the Premier of Ontario. The job was extremely fulfilling and allowed me some of the best professional experiences of my life; from traveling to Israel and the West Bank to China and Hong Kong. At the time I knew this was extremely rare for someone in her early 20s, but it still didn’t feel like I was doing anything that extraordinary. It happened so fast. Eventually, the time came when I knew I needed to do something different, something new, perhaps even more exciting.
Even though the job was still exciting, I knew that the time is coming that the excitement would run out. So I started doing information interviews with the contacts I acquired over the years to learn more about what was out there in the world to explore what I could be interested in next.
Through cold calls and requesting connections via friends and family, I met CEOs, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Managers from non-profit organizations, corporations, government and crown corporations. It was a journey for self-assessment and exploration. I learned that I required a cause to remain engaged and excited, whether it was political or social or economic, to better the lives of people. I eventually met a woman who ran the Foundation I currently work for, and 30 minutes after the information interview, she offered me a job to organize the G(irls)20 Summit in Paris, France, a summit that mirrors that of the G-20 leaders, but includes young female leaders from the G-20 nations plus one representative from the African Union. It felt like fate.
The transition from government to non-profit was difficult for me as the relationships I built while working in the Premier’s Office were unyielding. However, I knew that it was something I needed to do – to explore a new interest, and my new self.
At the G(irls)20 Summit, during an off-hours conversation among colleagues, a new acquaintance shared her insight on the matter of growth. She told me we all start our lives at the bottom of a mountain. We climb it without knowing what is at the top. Whether it was a degree, a goal, a career; we climb. When we reach the top, we discover a variety of mountain ranges we could not reach when we were at the bottom. The choices become greater in numbers and in range once we accomplish our goal. This analogy is something I now live by and love sharing with others.
I look forward to my next journey, whatever it may be.
Milisa: This is some of what I notice from Michele's story:
• her language. She talks of excitement, of adventure, of extraordinary experiences, of fate, of learning and of self-exploration. She talks of how she needs to feel like she is working to better the lives of other people. She is fuelled by that feeling; from this work she derives spiritual energy, the most powerful source of energy we can access in ourselves.
• she has clearly done a lot of reflecting to get where she is after she seemingly "fell into" politics.
• from her cycle of reflection and action, over and over again, she has learned much about herself, particularly about what "excites and engages" her.
• Michele has been very proactive.
• she persevered with her transition even when it was difficult. She trusted in herself enough to persevere with her choice.
• Michele said getting her current position "felt like fate". Don't you think that's interesting? Michele clearly had a large role to play in where she is now, but it is said that once we are able to really notice what energizes and excites us and we move toward that, the "stars align" to help us along.
• I love her mountain range image too; and felt inspired to find a photo I thought would illustrate it well.
• I also love the fact that Michele is working to better the lives of other women, a pursuit close to my heart!
• Finally, I wish Michele well on her journey. The beautiful ripple effect she is creating in the world will continue to grow as she climbs! We will all benefit from that.
Over to you...what will you take from this story into your life? What reflection would you like to do? What new actions would you like to take in pursuit of your Element, if you haven't exactly found it yet?
I would love to hear from you!