Redefining Success: Now I’m Grown Up, Who Do I Want To Be? - Rhonda Waters

Now I’m Grown Up, Who Do I Want To Be? – Rhonda Waters

Early in our lives, we are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” With my own sons, the answer varied from superheroes to race car drivers (they are neither!), and so the chase for what we want to be begins rather than the quest for who we want to be. We begin to measure our success by the gold stars, the promotions, the recognition and all the external signs that we are winning rather than our internal guideposts. What we want to be is only one of many questions we need to answer along the way. More importantly, we need to ask ourselves who do we want to be and become in the process of living a successful life? I recently had a coaching conversation with Jessica, a research scientist who, by all accounts, is a rising star in her organization. Her leader often describes her as “dedicated, committed and willing to sacrifice for the good of the organization.” Jessica is conflicted with those descriptions. In our conversation, she said, “This is what I have worked so hard for right? I always wanted to be a scientist. Shouldn’t I feel proud to have reached so many of my goals? Why do I feel so empty?” Jessica is facing the competing reality of having reached a high level of external success while feeling unfulfilled on the inside. According to the external report card, Jessica is checking all the boxes – she earns a great income, owns her home, is next in line for a promotion at work. So why does she describe herself as “empty”?

At different points in our lives, many of us may have felt like Jessica. We’ve reached milestones that represent success, but in our quieter moments, we may recognize a craving for meaning and a deeper connection with who and what really matters in our life. We get busy in the demands of daily living and often override those internal misgivings and signals that we are moving slightly off course. For most of us, it is the accumulation of those small daily choices, those slight deviations from our path, that leads us to one day look up and find ourselves truly off course. Often we ask, “How did I get here?” and as a wise mentor of mine recently said, “slowly and then very fast.”

So, is it ever too late? Are we stuck on that detour? Is there still time to choose who we want to be when we grow up? Absolutely! No matter what season of life we are in, we always have the power to intentionally choose our next step. But it does come with a caveat…changing direction means putting a lot of sweat equity into defining our purpose and aligning our daily actions with our own definition of success rather than waiting on a fickle world to give us an “A” grade. In the noise and chaos of daily life, it isn’t always an easy task to slow down, listen to your own thoughts and go deep. If you had a chance to write your own report card for life, what would matter the most? How would you define success in life? How would you want to show up for the most important people in your life? Give yourself the gift of time to quiet your mind, listen to your own stories and connect with your purpose, then convert that reflection to action. What will you do today to live into your purpose and be who you want to be?

By the way, my sons have successful careers in engineering and sales, but what I’m most proud of is their kindness and compassion, their courage to stand for what they believe in, and their commitment to give more than they take in the world. So, I guess they grew up to be superheroes after all!



Leadership Retreat - Rhonda WatersRhonda founded Waters Learning and Development in 1997, and for over 25 years, she has been delivering customized coaching, training and development focused on growth, possibilities and the potential within each of us. Rhonda’s passion is helping people develop the capacity to perform as their best self at work, at home and in life. Throughout her career, Rhonda has travelled the world providing the support and tools necessary for leaders, teams and individuals to evolve and create sustainable high-performance habits that help them shift from simply surviving to thriving. She believes that at the heart of transformation is human energy, and by harnessing that energy, giving it purposeful direction and building capacity, we have a limitless ability to ignite performance, adapt and remain resilient in the face of life’s storms.

Rhonda’s areas of expertise include coaching, human energy management, resilience, emotional intelligence, leadership development, interpersonal and communication skills, and team development.  She has served as a Performance Coach with the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute for 16 years and is a member of the Client Advisor team for Empactful Advisors. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in English Education from Appalachian State University and a Masters of Adult Education in Training and Development from North Carolina State University.  Rhonda has completed numerous advanced training programs and has certifications from various professional organizations, including The Center for Applications of Psychological Type, The Hay Group certification for Emotional and Social Intelligence coaching, DDI International trainer certification in Behavioral Event Interviewing, the Vella Approach certification in Advanced Learning and Curriculum Design, DiSC and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor certification.

Rhonda experience is diverse and wide-ranging, from non-profit organizations, schools, and community groups to senior leaders of global organizations. Selected clients include NC State University, SAS, GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco Systems, Inc., Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Deloitte, Nationwide Insurance, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, Genentech, General Electric, Chevron, LabCorp, AholdDelhaize, Lockheed Martin and John Deere.

Rhonda’s guiding principles for both design and delivery of training and coaching include key adult learning strategies – make it practical, relevant, and experiential; focus and align with purpose; and emphasize the value of communication, deep human connections and interpersonal relationships in a demanding, often impersonal, and fast-paced world.

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