I am a passionate advocate of each of us as leaders sharing our personal stories.
I find them so much more fun to read than bios – to understand the real person and the music they want to play in the world. Henna Inam CEO, Transformational Leadership Inc
What Henna is conveying here is spot-on. Everyone has a story. To understand our own stories and the stories of others is to connect, transform and belong.
So who am I?
I am an explorer whose sense of exploration is built on curiosity.
My explorer-side formed at the onset of life. As a baby, I wanted to know and understand the world around me. Everything was wonderous in the world I had joined. A favorite baby picture is of me reaching for a blade of grass. What I love about that picture is the determined and curious person looking back at me. It captures well the intrinsic motivation to explore that has been present throughout my life. And it helps me understand how reaching for that single blade of grass pushed me to plant my feet on ground all over the world.
I have traveled the world to twenty-three countries (and counting) for both business and holiday. My business experience includes leading teams in Ireland, England, Malaysia, Japan and Australia as well as in various regions of the United States. And my curiosity around cultures, landscapes and nature has led me explore countries on six of the continents.
Regardless of the reason for my travel, I have grown to appreciate the invisible thread that weaves us into community with each other and stitches us into a connection with nature. Remarkable it is indeed to realize the gift of one-ness that comes from an expanded-heart and open-mind.
After each excursion whether the Habitat build in India, visiting nature in the Galapagos or time with my support team in Japan, I am inspired to think differently about the world and my part in it. I come home having a warmer heart, better grasp on diversity and awareness on the interconnectedness of all things living.
I am an adventurer whose sense of adventure is built on growth.
As a child, one of my favorite places to be was on my bicycle. Planted on that banana seat, I was grounded in wheels for realizing independence and pushing past limits. At first, I stayed close to home by riding up and down on the long, blacktop driveway. I grew bored with the space and knew the time had come to push my limits to the street. It wasn’t long before the confines I put around the street got old. I wanted to extend the boundary and ride to the recreational park down the street. The sense of adventure and the feeling of freedom were exhilarating. Rides lengthened to frequent various points on Main Street: the library, the penny candy store and the Carvel Ice Cream shop.
My desire for adventure grew as I spread my wings by attending a university well outside where I grew up and pursuing a traditionally male-dominated career path. I grew to thrive on pushing my boundaries whether it be to move a distance away, do what most women were not yet doing with a STEM career or forge ahead in leadership roles beyond my comfort zone.
Along the way, I came to the self-awareness that my adventurer-side was really about conquering fear and embracing personal growth. That growth has been in all aspects of life: from the hobbies I chose to the places I have lived to the leadership positions I have held.
I have overcome a deathly fear of animals to now realized the important role they have in helping me feel an aliveness. I have moved around, living in seven states and always finding a way to defeat the fear of not fitting in. I started my career in a wonderful Fortune 10 that served my growth very well … until it didn’t. I shed my comfort for an adventure within a different type of business model, technology sector and leadership experience. The second half of my career was all about small company turn-arounds.
Each time I triumphed over fear in favor of adventure, growth presented itself in ways that were beyond what I could have imagined. Whether it was getting outside my warm and cozy cocoon to gallop on a horse in the countryside, join a group as the new member in a new town or lead cultural and business integrations after acquisitions, I solidified my strength in making changes and adapting.
I am a learner whose sense of learning is built on transformation.
I can remember the puddle of tears that flowed from my eleven-year old face like it was yesterday. My parents had returned from a parent-teacher conference where the information presented to them was both, in their minds, concerning and inaccurate. So, they decided to share what they learned from my teacher in hopes of uncovering something from me. And that’s when the tears began to flow.
My teacher did not think I was up for the challenges he was presenting to students like me who had been classified as “high achiever.” He went on to describe me as unmotivated, uninterested and unengaged. And underpinning this description was his perception that I had been put into a group to which I didn’t belong.
I did not want to leave the group for a group that was “lower” in my mind. After hearing what my parents had to say, I was doused with embarrassment and shame. I begged for a second chance and promised them I would never have the words “unmotivated, uninterested and unengaged” describe me again. Lucky for me, I got a second chance, rose to the top of the group and developed a defining characteristic as a “learner.”
Learning is my guiding beacon, a core value. It is central to my being and a driver in who I have been, who I am and who I will become. I strive to improve knowledge, skills and competencies in all areas of my life with particular emphasis on the priorities I have in place. For me, being a learner is not simply about gaining knowledge for the sake of knowing more. It is more around the transformation that learning provides.
I have embraced learning to fully explore new perspectives, ponder new ideas, develop new abilities and reinforce key principles. The learning as transformation I speak of has helped me become a better person, colleague, partner and leader. And it is my desire to share learning for the sake of transformation that drives me in this business. I strive to help leaders and teams learn and in turn develop into their best selves and perform as highly as possible.
So … there you have a little bit of my personal story and something about the music I want to play in this world. In acknowledging parts of ourselves and sharing our stories, we become more at ease with ourselves, more accepting of others and more connected during these rapidly changing times in which we live.
How about you? Are you ready to share your story? I invite you to connect with me if you want to learn more about the power in stories and connection to transform leaders, teams and organizations.