It had been a year since I had been in my role as a process consultant at Accenture and I was getting ready to transition to a new opportunity. I had never understood why my manager had chosen me, out of all of the other consultants applying for it, to work alongside her for what seemed to be quite an amazing gig. I was a someone who was two years out of college and had none of the required skills written in the job description.
Gathering my courage, I asked her, “Andrea, why did you select me for this role?”. Her response cemented a core belief which stuck to me for years with or without me recognizing, “I knew you didn’t have the experience. However, I had the confidence that you could achieve any task that would be required for the role”. This memory surfaced as I was reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. In it she writes:
“I knew I was no smarter than any of them. I just had the advantage of having an advocate.”
It felt all so relevant to my recent transformation and why I share this story. I’ve been on a journey of living my life with purpose and one topic that has been especially key to me has been on allyship for others. Piloting the idea of creating a Purposeful Community across Microsoft, I had a discussion with my peers on the topic of Allyship. We focused our discussion on times when others have been an ally to each of us as individuals, and ways that we have been working towards becoming an ally to others. One trend stuck out to me as we each shared our individual stories:
The belief and advocacy that others had for us, whether it be a single moment or collection of experiences, was what led to us living out that story and become who we are today.
Wow, what a mind-blowing thought. Wrestling myself out of a low-income single parent upbringing in Seattle, I’ve anchored my life around the words, “Believe You Can”. I had perceived that I am where I am today because of my self-belief that I could overcome any challenge life throws my way. However, coming to that revelation helped me recognize that I am where I am today because of all the people that believed in me all throughout my life and my career. The reality is that the belief that others had in me is what allowed me to believe in myself and create a positive cycle that has lifted me throughout life. I just had the advantage of having the right ally in the right times when I needed them most.
It also helped me recognize that there are others out there that are not as fortunate as I have been. It’s amazing how far believing can go. Sometimes people just need an advocate, an ally, and someone to believe in them when they do, or don’t believe in themselves.
I hope that we, as individuals and as communities, can adopt a growth mindset to continue to do even greater good in working towards lifting others up and giving them the allyship they need to drive towards shared progress in this world.