What is The Growth Project?
Cummins Facility Services and I are incredibly honored to have shared in a joint mentorship program known as the GROWTH Project, partnered with The Ohio State University Max M. Fisher College of Business. The GROWTH Project is Generating Resilience, Opportunity, and Wisdom Through Her, and was designed to create a mentorship model that has a transformational impact on the students of Fisher.
This program connected Fisher students with experienced, women executives. These women leaders donated an hour of their time for a one-on-one session to answer students’ questions, share their stories, and provide advice to help these young entrepreneurial women on their journey into the future of business. This unique opportunity allowed students to connect, build community, and create an environment for learning and growth.
Don't Fear Failure - Embrace Growth and Opportunity
I am overjoyed to be able to share so much of my own journey with these young women. It takes guts to face a challenge and become a leader. It means taking chances and not fearing failure. Failure just means the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. In college, so much hinges on not failing, that it is hard to embrace the idea that everyone experiences failure at some point. Failure is not always a misfortune, especially if we learn to come at the challenge again from a different angle, with better solutions and more determination.
Cummins mentors students
It was even more pleasing to invite members of my executive team to participate as mentors as well. Missy Haas, Vice President of Finance & Administration for Cummins Facility Services had this to say about her experience as a mentor:
“Even if we did not take the same career path or education as the students we spoke with, we have so much to share. We learn a great deal as well. It was heartwarming to be able to offer guidance and reassurance to a young business student that was fearful of what her future held. It was also a great encouragement to both me and the student to share my experiences of such a supportive leader to a student that found herself in male-dominated classes. I found it satisfying to reassure her that female-owned and led companies are on the rise, and a great place to be a part of in the future”
Missy’s approach to leadership is two-fold, “Don’t take it so seriously that you cannot enjoy it. Remember that hard work and humility can go a long way. Great co-workers make all the difference. Also, I have discovered that if you find a leader you admire, absorb everything you can. Listen more, talk less. Work hard and persevere, it will pay off.”
Being successful takes grit. Success takes strength of character — passion and perseverance for your goals. As women, I think we need to think bigger and never be afraid to ask for an opportunity, especially when the worst someone could say is no.
Grow to New Heights and Break Barriers
After the GROWTH Project was wrapped up, I received a message from a young lady that was considering asking for a Teaching Assistant position at the University, but was afraid to take the chance. There were too many what-ifs standing in her way. She made up her mind that the idea of failing was scarier for her than the actual failing, but realized the missed opportunity would be worse than being turned down for the TA position.
Asking for the opportunity shows courage and determination. She can’t have what she wants if she doesn’t go after it. I am so glad she changed her mind.
As women on the highest levels of executive positions, we have the opportunity and an obligation to shape the next generation of young women, and help to prepare them for a greater level of success – to not stop where the bar is set because that is the expectation, but to break through the barriers. Generations before them have already fought for a seat at the table. We are limitless.
To these young women, I say go for it! Forget fear, forget failure. Look for new opportunities, take chances, choose determination. There is plenty of room at the top. When you get there, teach the next generation what works and tell them what you learned along the way. My team and I enjoyed this opportunity to be a part of the GROWTH Project mentorship program. We send our best wishes to the young women pursuing their dreams!