When I was preparing for the launch of Lead without Blame, I realized that I had not updated LinkedIn profile in quite a while. Sure, I had been posting but the profile sections were quite outdated. The skills listed and recommended were around architecture and coding. There was a point when that was my top skill but not today. Yes, I can still read code but really no one wants me coding these days. So I started updating the list.
I started with adding the skills that I mostly help others with today, training – speaking – facilitating – etc. That was easy to list and ask for recommendations. This step felt obvious and I was slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t done this step a long time ago.
The next step was removing things that didn’t align with my current brand. So I started deleting coding, etc. And with each deletion, my reaction was building. I didn’t like removing that part of my profile. This got me thinking about when I do introductions at the start of a class. Turns out I almost always reference my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering from Michigan State University. Why?
I spent time reflecting on this and here’s what I realized:
- I’m proud of this degree. I was one of three women to graduate from my class. I wasn’t expected to go to college. I wasn’t expected to get an engineering degree. I wasn’t expected to be a career woman. This accomplishment was a huge positive turning point in my life on many many fronts. I never want to diminish or dismiss this.
- I value experience and learning. My various roles and experiences reinforce my commitment to constantly learning and evolving. As I dig into new things, I’m able to because what I did led me to this new opportunity.
- My experiences have shaped my opinions and knowledge. All of my experiences even if not currently active. I don’t need to be actively coding to remember why I don’t want to write hundred-page design documents again. I don’t need to be actively coding to remember the misery of the mass merge. I don’t need to be actively coding to remember that feeling of delivering something not valuable in the end.
- And the one that I’m forcing myself to acknowledge…as a female in technology, my background helps minimize some of the “what does she even know” assumptions. This benefit continues to decrease with each year but I would be lying to say it’s not there at all. Whether this history helps people adjust bias or connect with me due to similar backgrounds, I’m still grateful.
Every role, every organization, every accomplishment, and every failure is part of my story. And this is my story, my identity…and I get to own all of it.
Why do you own your experiences?