In life, we often find ourselves at a crossroad—encountering pivotal moments that shape our trajectory and lead us down unexpected ways. These turning points, whether driven by personal decisions or external forces, play a crucial role in our growth and development, personal and professional. In this episode of Qonversations, Janet Redwine, the Director of Program Success for Executive Education at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver, shared insights on turning points in her life and how they've shaped her journey.
We often see success and failure as black and white. You're either a success or a failure, and there's no in-between. Uncertainty and fear associated with change is something that can stop us from moving forward and properly answering the question: How to start again in life? A willingness to confront challenges and accept discomfort is essential for beginning again and navigating turning points successfully.
“In this world, we're really conditioned to success or failure. There is no middle ground. You're either successful or a failure, and you have to go one way or another. But there is a middle ground, called learning and growing. And you can still be headed toward success, learning and growing while making mistakes.”
Recognizing the Middle Ground
Transitions, no matter how hard they may be, are an integral part of life. Life milestones that trigger change are challenging, especially when they come out of the blue. They could be changes that happen to us, or we could discover that where we are is not where we want to be in the future, and making a change becomes a necessity. We must evaluate what is and is not working and make adjustments as needed.
Through this process, we may feel that we do not have control over our professional and personal lives, so it is important to acknowledge the valuable lessons embedded in the journey toward success and navigate turning points with resilience and optimism. Because change is inevitable. And when we embrace it, it will prompt us to examine our ideals and re-evaluate our priorities.
When reaching a crossroad that can set the direction in which our career may go, as Janet emphasized, we must understand the importance of internal drive, the continuous pursuit of being the best version of ourselves, regardless of external recognition. This intrinsic motivation, she says, fuels sustained commitment to the journey, especially during moments of uncertainty.
Lessons from Olympic Aspirations
As a former Olympic swimmer, Janet draws parallels between her athletic and business career, identifying pivotal turning points that shaped her trajectory. Rather than viewing these turning points as fatalistic, she saw them as opportunities for learning and growth: the discipline, determination, and teamwork cultivated during her swimming career provided a strong foundation for her future roles. Drawing from her own experiences, she emphasized that change is not always easy or comfortable. Self-awareness, she notes, is fundamental for recognizing one's strengths and leveraging them even in unfamiliar terrains.
“Success is not the destination, but it's the journey you go through to get there, including the challenges, mistakes, and lessons along the way.”
Lessons for Leaders
The concept of self-awareness and a forward-looking approach on a personal level is actually quite applicable in leadership development. Janet advocated for taking the time to reflect on personal motivations, values, and aspirations, guiding executive education programs, coaching individuals through turning points, and focusing on self-awareness. With self-awareness, individuals can make more informed decisions about their career paths and personal development, aligning their choices with their authentic selves. Acknowledging strengths, weaknesses, and intrinsic motivations contributes to effective leadership.
Embracing the Change
Janet’s journey from Olympic athlete to program director embodies the power of embracing turning points and leveraging them for personal and professional growth. By accepting change, navigating uncertainties, and valuing the journey, individuals can find success beyond the narrow definitions society often imposes. Resilience, intrinsic motivation, and commitment to continuous growth are essential to navigate our turning points and reach change for the better. The challenges encountered are integral to the learning process and contribute to personal and professional growth. We must view challenges not as roadblocks but as opportunities for learning and improvement.
"Quantuvos" means "Choose to be Your Best." When facing a crossroad in life, people need to find their own “Quantuvos, as it is extraordinary in everyone. People have to figure out what that means for themselves and grow into it.
When you are willing to step into the unknown, every turning point provides the opportunity to use what you have learned in the past, build resilience, discover your best self, and move into the future.
Have you explored other insightful episodes of Quantuvos? Here are some of our recommendations:
- Episode 051: "Fixing Work"
- Episode 046: "Unlocking Potential and Inspiring Greatness"
- Episode 041: "Success on Your Own Terms"