Podcast Transcript

Finding Your Purpose

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:00  
And we are now recording to the editor. This is episode two of your authentic path powerful leadership, podcast. And Episode Two is called finding your purpose. So with that, three, two. Welcome to your authentic path to powerful leadership with Marcia Clark, where we believe there's a better way to be a woman today, with research tools, books, and our own personal experiences. Join us on this journey because in every episode, we uncover what it actually takes to be a powerful leader in our organizations, in our communities and in our lives. So Marsha, welcome to today's second episode, tell us what we're going to talk about today.

Marsha Clark  1:01  
Well, hello again, and to everyone, and thanks for tuning in. Today's topic is finding my purpose. And we'll be talking about several things as it relates to finding our purpose, our values, our strengths, and playing to our passion, all with an eye towards really creating our own personal vision.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:20  
So with this episode being called finding your purpose, you know, that's really a pretty tall order for a podcast. So what does that really mean to you at its core to find your purpose?

Marsha Clark  1:35  
Well, it's been an interesting life, for me to figure that out for myself. And so as I really sat down to ponder it, I'm one that kind of takes things apart and puts things back together again. So as I really begin to dissect this, I found it fell into my life fell into four different categories. The first one in my life was I just needed a job. And I think about this from the standpoint of when we get out of school, it can be high school, you know, undergraduate, graduate school, whatever it may be. And what we're really looking for there are most of the people that I work with. And what I think about myself, is that we're looking for a job, we need a job to make money to pay back student loans to have some financial security, and quite honestly, to have some independence as a new adult. And so that's really step one, as we think about our career lives. The second one is about searching and pursuing a career. And our careers can be vertical climbing the corporate ladder, or they can be jungle gyms, you know, where we make lateral moves and that sort of thing. But it's, it's when we begin to say, I can do more, I can contribute more, by my ambition. sets in, if you will. And it doesn't mean that I'm necessarily looking at a vertical approach. And I want to be the CEO of my company, it can be I want to be the best subject matter expert in whatever My specialty is. So I'm not suggesting that careers have to be one way that can be a lot of different things. But looking at career, its future goals, its influence, I want to be at the table, I want to be known for being really good at something. And the third part is finding our calling. And so, you know, job career calling. And when I think about calling, it's When did I discover my strengths? When do I really get clear about what I'm good at. And we don't always know that in the beginning, because we haven't had enough experiences to understand what we're good at. But when I find my calling, it's my ability to really say, you know, this is what I'm good at. And we're going to talk a little bit later here about what that means and how important that is. And then comes purpose. So when I think about purpose, it's when you kind of pull it all together, I take all the job experiences that I've had, I take all the the skills that I built, the knowledge that I've acquired, I throw in my values, I throw in my strengths. And I find out what I'm really passionate about. So to me, one of the keys for finding our purpose, is really finding our passion. And so that that's that's my story in how we get to purpose. And I love that sort of the double entendre, if you will of I want to live my life on purpose. So doing it intentionally doing it deliberately, because I think it brings much greater joy and fulfillment to our lives.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:55  
Absolutely. I totally agree with that. And I'm gonna ask a, just a kind of a follow on Question about, do you find that moving through those four step stages, which is what how they sound to me, are, are correlated to age like I, you know, you just start out and you get a job. But I think also a lot of these things are, you know, coming together and culminating as women gain more experience and get older and more mature in the workplace.

Marsha Clark  5:24  
So it's been an interesting thing. Once I got clear about it for myself, then when I supported others, coached others taught others. It was interesting seeing their own journey, right in that parallel world. And so here's what I'll tell you. 20 years ago, when I started working, specifically with women, the women who were asking the purpose question fell somewhere between the ages of 45 and 55. Yep. What when I look now, at the groups that are coming through my programs, it's more 35 to 45. So I think we're asking the question earlier, which is very encouraging to me, because I think the better we get to our purpose, the happier we and more fulfilled we can be. And I'll tell you, this is an interesting sort of timing situation. My last coaching call yesterday was with a 27 year old woman, and she is grappling with what is her purpose, and we had a long conversation about this very topic. And it was she said, the word she used was I feel aimless. And so she's got all these questions right now. And I want to be living on purpose. Well, 27 is a young age one, you know, you haven't haven't had as much life experience and career experience and work experience. And yet the question is still there for her. Right. So I think it's going to hit us each at different times, depending on many, many variables. And I know we're going to talk about it really depends on each person. And that's part of the authentic part of our paths as well,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:10  
Exactly. So when did you first realize how important it is to get clear about all of this?

Marsha Clark  7:18  
Well, I was probably in my early 40s. And I was working on an account, and I was producing leaders off of my account to go run new business, for other that we'd signed. So leading other client business. So I then got tapped on the shoulder to say, Hey, if you're doing this on your account, we need you to come do this at the corporate level. And I had the opportunity to go lead our leadership and executive development for a fortune 50 company, and we got to wipe the slate clean, start with a clean sheet of paper and begin to build what we hoped would be, you know, the kind of global leaders that we needed going forward. That's when I found my strength. So that's the, the, the calling part, right? And, and then as I several years later, what I found was my passion, and my values played into that a bit. And I left corporate America, because my values were not aligned with the new CEO who had come in, I had achieved the role of a corporate officer of a fortune 50 company. And we brought in our first outside CEO, and for 20 plus years, I'd lived in a company and grown up in a company whose values aligned with mine, right, and, and so when they didn't, when they no longer aligned, I know, it was time for me to leave. And it was then that I found my real passion, about wanting to support and work with women. An interesting, I think, interesting for me, it was an insightful moment. We had 44 officers. And the company I worked for was electronic data systems, eds. It was a technology company. And four of those 44 were women. We never ever had a conversation about what it meant to be a woman in the company. And what years was this? This goes back to the 90s. Okay, oh, yeah.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:31  
Still four out of 44 that I think even in the 90s was would you consider that a little bit progressive?

Marsha Clark  9:39  
We were we were at the top of the list. Yeah. From from a demographic or statistical perspective. Right. Right. Up at the list. Yeah. Okay. And yet we'd never had that conversation to say, you know, we just never did right and, and I laughingly say I drank the Kool Aid, that leadership is leadership is leadership, you know, and that way we all do the same or that we all you know, are kind of our to that same tune, and the reality is we were marching to the same tune, but we weren't all doing the same dance, you know.

And so it became clearer to me after I left EDS about, I really wanted to understand what some of those distinctions are, I used to tell the guys at abs, you know, you get stuff done, I get stuff done, and we did it differently, but we got rewarded for results. So that was, you know, the good part, right. And, and so but but the difference was, is that they wanted to work with me again, because I was, I put as much emphasis not just on my relationships with clients, but also in the relationships with my team, and developing them to take on bigger and more. And so it was a different style and and i think women had the opportunity if we if we really play to our strengths and our true to who we are, that we can bring the best of that to our to our callings our and our careers and our purpose. And, and so that's, that's when I began to really discover that my passion is around helping women achieve success based on their terms and helping them discover more about what their purpose is, and giving them the skills and the tools and the language to really then go make that happen.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:26  
And there are 1000s of women across the world who are very grateful for that because of all of your service over the last decades. So switching again, was there ever a time in your life where you weren't clear or you felt fuzzy about what you were supposed to be doing? And if there was what helped you move out of that fog?

Marsha Clark  11:52  
Well, you know, as I was going through it, I'll be honest with you, I was one of those typical women on the dribble, we'll read it as fast as I can to get all the things done that needed to happen. And so I would describe myself as being more opportunistic. And what I mean by that, is that someone would come offer me an opportunity, and I'd say yes or no. And I said yes to most of them. Because, you know, part of, you'll hear shortly that I'm a learner is one of my strengths. So I saw every opportunity is Oh, sure, I can go do that. And so I kind of went through my career with a fall in a fog. And so I just other people could see things in me that I couldn't see in myself, and I hear this story. So true. I hear this story over and over and over again today. And and it's when it's easy, or when we're good at it, we don't think it's worth much, you know, because it comes so easy to us. And so I what I begin to understand is, and this was something that one of the men that I worked with, said to me one time, and it was when I was asked to come back in and run that leadership and executive development piece, and come back into corporate. And he said, Marsha, it says, If everything that has happened to you has prepared you for this moment. And that's when I began to say, you know, that's exactly right, this happened. And that led to this. And that led to this. And I'm using all of that now in the role that I have here. And it felt right. And so you know, I know, there, there's hardly ever it's like overnight successes, you know, it's really not an overnight success. I've worked 20 years to have this overnight success, right. And I think that's more of what it was. It just kept accumulating and building up until it became clear with this one statement said by you know, this man to me, and it set my thinking on a whole new path that said, that's where I begin to appreciate all the experiences that I've had good, bad, ugly, and all all of the above. And yet, that's what's prepared me to be in this moment right now. So how do I call on all of that? And and, you know, the name of my upcoming book is embracing your power. That's me, getting to the point where I understand what my power is, because there's power in our strengths. There's power in our passion and purpose. And so embrace that and then use that to continue moving forward and living your purpose.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:31  
Mm hmm. So in your book, you mentioned that when you run leadership programs for women, very few of them acknowledge that they have developed a personal vision. Is that just a female thing?

Marsha Clark  14:47  
Well, that's an interesting question. So what I will tell you is that almost all of us men, women, we've all participated in some sort of visioning. Yes. Right. So We go do our market analysis, our competitive analysis, we look at string, it's for a product, right? Right, a team or an annual event or something along those lines. And so we do all of that, very rarely have men or women done a personal vision that says, What is the kind of life that I want to live a few, I mean it and it has increased over the 20 years that I've been doing this work. What I will tell you is that the men that I work with, and I still work with men, I'm not exclusively working with women. But the men that I work with, they have very clear career goals. If I asked them, where they see themselves in three to five years, they almost always have an answer. And it's usually title driven, or quite honestly, money driven, I want to be at this level, I want to be the, you know, Vice President of Sales on a national scale, or, you know, something along those lines. And I'll be honest with you, it's easier to help people when they have that clarity of career. When it comes to creating a personal vision, as you know, we do the professional side, but we also do the personal side, because we're a whole person. And we it's hard for us to separate the two. And when I think about vision, and how do I get clear about where I'm going, they'll Alice in Wonderland, if you don't know where you're going, any path will do. And so there's this idea of I've got to sit down and create that. And it's not a competitive analysis. And it's not a market analysis. It's inside of me. And so your vision, I don't, you're not my competition and creating a vision. And again, this is where I've got to find those hard answers inside of me. And I and I don't care if I'm your coach or not, I can't help you if I can ask questions and help you, you know, begin to think about things maybe in a different way. But the the visioning part is your work to do. And that's again, a part of what is important in creating the best you the most authentic, the most sincere, genuine you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  17:11  
Right, so what's the danger of not having a clear personal vision?

Marsha Clark  17:19  
It's a double edged sword. So it's, there's some danger, but there's also some beauty in this. And so when I think about Have I done all that I want to do? Have I done all that I think I've been put on this earth to do. And people ask me all the time or shut your you know, I'll tell you, I'm I'm almost 69 years old, and I still have a lot of energy left to do this work. And people say how do you still have all this energy? And I say, you know, I love what I do, first of all. Secondly, when I say when I you know, hopefully, I'm on heaven's door step that I will be empty that I will be spent, because I want to leave it all down here. Right? So I want to, I want to give as much as I can possibly give. And I think if we don't do that, we miss opportunities. You know, when I said earlier, I was opportunistic, I said yes to almost everything. If I hadn't, there was something in my head about not, it wasn't about building my career, it was I want to learn something new. So the vision for me was in the learning part, and serving others. And, you know, I have a strong sense of responsibility. And you know, all of that. So those were the things that prompted me. And so even though I hadn't written it down with a clear vision, I still had things in my head that I wanted to work towards. And so I think when we get clear, and we take out all those random thoughts that are ricocheting inside of us, and write it down. Now I have a blueprint or a map or a framework that I can use then to live my life in a more intentional and deliberate way. And so that that's one side of it. I also want to say, though, that if I am unclear, or I'm unsure, I say there's just for now love the questions. You don't we don't have to come up with an answer every 30 seconds, or I'm not gonna know right now. So love the questions and meander and wander around a little bit because there's value in that if, if you're paying attention, if I notice what you notice. So when people are struggling, I say write down at the end of every day, what do you love about today. And then over time, you'll begin to see some themes and patterns emerge that touch your heart or that give you energy or that make you you know, I can't wait to get up this morning and do that because that's something I really look forward to and enjoy. And I'm good at it and it brings value and it serves others. So those are the kinds things. So there's value in both because sometimes just wandering around a bit, can help you discover things you wouldn't do if you just kept thinking I have to have the answer and keep moving forward.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  20:10  
I love that wandering around a bit, I think, you know, especially for a lot of us over the last year, I think, with COVID, we probably wandered around a bit. I mean, I know I did, personally. And so with that, do you think there's an ideal age to develop a personal vision? And does that really matter? And then also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what if that changes, like what does that? What does that look like?

Marsha Clark  20:37  
Well, and here's what I will tell you. So, my observations, this is my anecdotal experience. And I always try to differentiate between the printed research and literature, you know, that I've corroborated and so on. And just what I've seen in the work that I've done with women over 20 years, and with women from over 50 countries. And so there's some universal truths about this. So I've kind of broken it down our lives into decades. So if you'll indulge me for just a minute here. So in our 20s, we've been told we can be anything we want to be, and we we go out there and we live our lives accordingly. Right? I want this, and I want that, and I can do this. And I can do that. And what we often do to the people in our 20s. And this was done to us too. So it's not this is not, it's more chronological than it is generational, if that if I can say it that way. And so what I would tell you is women in their 20s, they're out there and they're being bold, and they're being you know, aggressive or assertive, or pushy, or whatever you want to call them. And we try to reel him in, we try to smooth out the rough edges, we try to you know, all of that happens to us in our 20s. Because it's a we can't do that, or we can't say that and so on and so forth. So that's our 20s it's kind of being bold, and, and, and be and meeting resistance accordingly. Then when we get into our 30s, we oftentimes have started to build a family, we've achieved some, you know, level of responsibility inside our careers. And now it's the work life balance thing, right? So how do I get it all done. And the women in their in the decade of their 30s is where I hear the majority of that. And for others, it's I want to take on more and more and more, and I keep pushing and striving for that as well. And then in our 40s is where I think about it as our mid life. So I've worked 20 years by the time I get to my 40s if I've worked full time throughout my adult career, I've worked 20 years I'm gonna work another 20 years do I want the second half to look like the first half? and Wendy, when I think about that, there was a book written by a gentleman named Bob Buford called halftime It was written several years ago, many years ago. And yet I think the principle still applies. He spoke about we spend the first half of our adult lives looking for success. And these are more of the traditional trappings. Do I have a good job? Do I have financial security? Do I live in a nice home? Do I drive a nice car, can I send my kids to you know, good schools and you know, that sort of thing is where a lot of that focus is. And then the second half, we look for significance. And to me, this is where the calling and the purpose are generally being discovered. So we don't know when our halftime shows are right, we can't anticipate that. And we have to be willing to adapt and adjust and change. And so I think as people define what do I want the second half to look like it could be I want to remain in my organizational role. It could be I want to go start my own business, it could be I want to go do you know, nonprofit work and serve my community, I want to be a mentor, you know, so I'm expanding, you know, the things that I want to do. And so I think at any point along the way, we can have adjustments. You know, a year and a half ago, we couldn't have anticipated a global pandemic. And and so we have, whatever vision we create for ourselves is written on paper. It's not etched in stone. And so we have to have the ability to flex adapt. One of our favorite today words is pivot, we have to make our pivots in order to adjust accordingly. And so I don't think there's a right age to do it. And I think we've got to step back and and be both introspective and retrospective with what's just happened and what meaning do I give it and then what do I do with that? Right? How do I use that to then continue moving forward in a way that helps me meet my personal vision, with integrity and with some great intentionality.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  25:08  
Right? So I want to dive deeper into talking about your book. Now it is about to hit the shelves literally embracing your power by Marcia Clark. And it might surprise our readers or your readers to see that you include concrete tools for both personal and professional values, clarifications, why did you include these tools? I mean, to me that that seems very proprietary. Tell us about that.

Marsha Clark  25:43  
Well, the first thing I will tell you, we play a lot of roles. Right? And I mean, it's everything from daughter, sister and wife, niece, you know, as mother stepmother, all grandmother, all of that, and how do we, again, make sense of it? There's, there's something in psychology called what is our cognitive framework. So one of the ways I think about is the way our brains work is we need we need a we need that roadmap, we need that blueprint. And so the the tools and the thinking that I think serves us to better understand what we want to how we want to live our lives are really creating the understanding our values, and I think we have certain things that we value in our professional lives and certain things we value in our personal lives. And you hope those are aligned. And yet, if I don't get clear about that, I think it's hard to create that vision. And so the first one is to is values. The second tool is around risk taking. And there's lots of different kinds of risks. There's, you know, am I willing to go bungee jumping or jump out of an airplane, you know, all the attendant parachuting and all that. There's the Who am I, you know, in my whale, who am I going to leave my children to shoot? Something happened to me, right? That kind of that's huge. There's the financial risk, and yet the risks that I work with women on is how bold Are you going to be? Right? How, because we had these big dreams. And I and I often hear women coming into the program that say, I've lost a bit of myself along the way. And so understanding the values and the risk, and again, I'm going to go back to the strengths, being able to articulate those, and then put them into some coherent plan or vision for how I want to live my life. So those are the critical things, and then saying, um, what else? You know, and and what would that provide for you? Or what would that look like, is helping women to envision it? without a lot of limitation, if I could do it, you know, when we're five, we don't understand that you have to make this much money in order. Right. And I, and I said, it's kind of like the difference in being a mother and a grandmother as a, as a mother, I wanted to, you know, influence shape, mold, nudge, cajole my child to being a certain something, as a grandparent, you just get behind the grandchild and say, whatever you want, right? If, if you want to be the grocery store, check her out. And that's a great job, go be the very best one that you can be. I'm not worried about what can you make a living at that? And well, that, you know, I mean, it's just a different frame. And part of that's because we've gathered experience and perspective along the way, and recognize that there's lots of possibilities and lots of definitions of success. So being able to bring those tools to help us create that vision with greater clarity is where we're what I've learned along the way.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:47  
So I've got to mention Dolly Parton's quote that you and I both love "Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life" and I think that's exactly what you're talking about. Right here.

Marsha Clark  29:00  
It is. It is and we can get so singularly focused are so oh my gosh, this is the end of my career. Oh my gosh, they're gonna fire me. Yeah, they're No they're not. And I asked women so what what do you really think the probability is for that happen? You know, and that's a part of that risk taking and, you know, we know it is get forgiveness versus permission and you know, different cultures do it differently. And yet, we got to stop and ask ourselves those right questions to make sure that we're supporting both a living and a life that that both are required.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:37  
So one really compelling thing you say in the book about values is without these, I'm not me. What do you mean by that?

Marsha Clark  29:49  
Yeah, I I just think our values are at the core and and my dear friend, Dottie Getty, and I wrote a book many years ago, now called Shoes, the role that choice plays in shaping women's lives. And we had five key messages. You know, one is that choice is a powerful tool, you know, and one of the greatest tools in our toolkit. The second is is, is about values, when we make choices in our lives, that align with our values, we like them a whole lot better. And if we and if we look back in our lives, and wish we had some do overs, wish we could, you know, start again, it's typically because we've not been aligned with our values. And so that's the significance of the values is helping us make the many, many, many choices we make every single day. And so that's a key part of why it's me. I know, it's me when I like the choices I make. And when I know I'm living in the integrity of my values. And I also think about values. I've used the word blueprints and roadmaps and that sort of thing. I think values are kind of markers along our paths. And so anytime I'm faced with a tough decision out, I'll ask myself the mental questions. What do I value here? You know, what is important to me? And is it about truth? Is it about integrity? Is it about compassion? Is it about, you know, service? And so when you think about what your values are, how can this choice represent that very essence of me? And, and that's the one, you know, when I, I'm a visual person, so when I think about values and how they live in us, I think I've got my values in my heart, right? I want to come from the heart in that sincerity and genuineness. My gut, another part of my body tells me whether I'm doing it or not, right, whether whether it's a you know, a tightness in my gut, or whether it's whatever that might be, and then my head is where I then say, Okay, how does this play out? Right? So how do I activate what's in my heart and what my gut is telling me? And so that sounds a little crazy. But that's the physical and the visual image that I have. And I also want to say, You and I both know, we love quotes, right? So we will be doing a lot of that in Yes, yes. And so there's a line from a movie, that contender that I just I say it often to myself and to others, and that is that principles are only principles, when you practice them when they're inconvenient. Oh, yes. And so it's not just when it's easy, it's not just when other people are looking. It's, you know, in those darkest, hardest, most challenging moments, am I still gonna stay true to my principles? Am I still gonna stay true to my values to my core? And if I do, I'm a lot happier with it.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:09  
And also, in the book, one of your reflection exercises, asks how your personal and professional values align? what's an example of alignment or being out of alignment?

Marsha Clark  33:26  
Well, I'll say this, I often answer questions with questions, because I can't give you the absolute answer to that what I can do is help you. I'll ask you questions to help you get clear. And here are the questions I asked myself. So am I so busy building my career that my family is suffering? That you know that they don't recognize me? Right, right. As my...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:55  
... as somebody else's Mommy, exactly.

Marsha Clark  33:58  
Who are you again? Um, you know, I remember the first time that I left my son at a daycare gave her he was, I don't know, 18 months old or something. And and then I went to get him and he didn't want to come home. Oh, my goodness. I cried for days, because I thought, Oh, my gosh, you know,

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  34:16  
You know what, Marsha, there's a lot of women listening right now, who can totally relate like, that isn't a unique experience for a lot of us in in the workforce?

Marsha Clark  34:27  
Well, that's exactly right. I mean, we're faced with difficult choices along the way every single time. And and look, do you get over it? And did my son turn out? Okay. And do we have a wonderful relationship? Yes, yes. And in that moment, I was a new Marine, I was still a relatively new mother. And so it was, it was devastating. And so there's that and so am I missing out on my children's lives? I'll tell you another quick story. You know, the mother stories can go on and on but when Brent was in fifth grade, and He had a Christmas program. And we had been learning this song and practicing it. And I can still say it to you today. And I was traveling, and I was in Washington, DC. And it was a snowstorm. It was because it was Christmas time. And my flight, I couldn't get there, I couldn't get home to see his Christmas program, my husband, videotaped it and all that kind of stuff, which was fine. And I carried that guilt with me forever. Because I was fortunate to work for a company that said, you can go do those things, right? So it encouraged that. And yet, I carried that guilt forever. And I know Brent was in his late 20s, or something. And I was talking to him about that. And he goes, Oh, really, you missed by fifth grade bar. And, you know, I tell the story all the time, because women we carry the guilt around, we're not being a good enough mother, wife, daughter, you know, friend, whatever it may be. And you know, the other person may or may not even realize what's going on. That's right. It's us doing it to ourselves. So I just I look, you know, are we aligned in that? And can we have some perspective about it, as well as the other thing, you know, the other thing, again, another quote is Erma bombeck, who was a syndicated writer who wrote a lot about she was in the stages of early working mothers. And one of her phrases is we can have it all, we just can't have it all at the same time. Yeah. And and I think that gives us some freedom to say, I'm in this phase, or stage or season of life. And so this is my first priority, this kind of goes back to that visioning thing as well. For the next 10 years, my vision is this for the 10 years after that, it might be something different, or five year increments, or whatever. But our lives change. And we can't always predict that, but being able to have those conversations, especially with other women who can relate and who go, Oh, my gosh, I thought it was just me, that was crazy. Or me that was you know, the horrible mother, because fill in the blank. And so I think having that perspective of we can have it all, but there's a time for everything.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:06  
So you ask a very deep and important question in your book. It's in a values reflection exercise. And I'm going to ask you to read that here. And then let's dig a little deeper into it.

Marsha Clark  37:23  
Well, as I said, I love questions. Right. So that's the the pondering part. So the question is, how can your values inform your vision for your future? And the commitment you're willing to make to achieve the vision you desire?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:41  
So let's, let's break that down. I mean, the key word that you're stressing is how to a person's values in form their vision. What does that even mean?

Marsha Clark  37:50  
How do I take my values into account as I create the life I want? So for example, I I value, unconditional love. That is one of my big values. And I don't mean that i i agree with or condone or approve of bad behavior? I don't. Clearly and there's plenty of main evil wrongdoers in the world. Yeah. But if I believe in unconditional love and compassion, can I love them? Even if I don't like them? Right, and what they're doing? And how does that show up in my life? And, you know, for example, people who are down on their luck if I'm going to show unconditional love, am I helping them? Am I providing financial contributions to nonprofits? Am I serving on boards and my volunteering my time, that sort of thing? And it may be even if I don't necessarily approve of the choices that people have made? But is it important to me to show that unconditional love and compassion to them? Do I Do I smile at people even if I don't know them? You know, and I smile can make someone's day. And I am really purposeful about smiling at people to put some happiness into the world. You know, one of my, my new recent acquisitions was a T shirt and on it, it says human kind be both.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:32  
I love that...

Marsha Clark  39:33  
I do too, you know, or, you know, there's lots going around in the world where you can be anything behind, right those those are the things that that really inform me to live the vision I want which is to be in service to something larger than myself and to live the life that I I talk about that I try to help others figure out I mean, I want to be congruent in you know, living that life for myself. Do I listen to people even when I disagree with their points of view? Or do I get mad and angry and fuss and fight? And, you know, declare they're wrong? And I'm right, and all those kinds of things? Or do I just say, tell me more fascinating, you know, helped me understand that better? I might see it a little differently, or are you open to hearing what I, you know, what my thoughts are, and, and staying engaged in that and not just listening to them to check the box of I listen, but to really give thought and weight and consideration to what it is that they're saying, you know, if if my vision is to be healthy, because I, you know, I, it's not to be a size, whatever, it's to be healthy as what we're at when I think about our physical being. And so does my diet reflect that? Do I have time built into my calendar? Because we need structures to help us get there exactly. And values are a part of that structure. And so one of the phrases I learned when I went back to get my masters was the system is designed to produce exactly what the system is producing. And what that means is my life is designed to produce exactly what my life is racing. Yeah. And so am I, giving my energy time and focus to the things that I want my life to represent? So that's, I hope that helps explain what the inform my vision means, of course, of course.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:31  
So, one of the tools you recommend in the in that chapter also is Clifton Strengths Finder. What is it about that particular assessment? Because there's lots of things out out there anagram Myers Briggs, you know, there's a lot of stuff. So what is it about the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment that you like using?

Marsha Clark  41:53  
Well, the Strengths Finder is based on the work of Gallup, and they have the biggest database in the world of almost everything. And so what I love about it is that there's no one profile for being a successful leader person, leading a successful life. So they've got these strengths identified, and you can go in and find out what your top five are all 34 of them, I think there are. But the idea here is that the combination of those strengths are mine and mine. I mean, you know, they're not again, in competition with or if these are my strengths, and I play to them. I'm doing it right. Versus I'm not, I'm not just like you. So you know, we're not robots, we're not automatons, we're not Stepford Wives, we are each our own unique, authentic selves, and strengths, reinforce that, because it shows us that there's several different pieces of research that say, if we get to spend 50% of our lives, and it's specific to our work lives, but I believe it also applies to our personal lives, that if we get to spend 50%, or more of our time playing to our strengths, we're happier, we're more productive, and we're more engaged. And so to me, that's a part of bringing around the the calling, knowing your strengths and your passion, because I'm doing something that I love doing. Now, it doesn't mean that I can't be I can be good at something, but I don't necessarily like it, you know, I, I say we all got part of parts of our jobs that are not our favorite. So you know, yesterday, I spent time reviewing a contract a master services agreement, you know, it's like, shoot me now is what I have to do that. And yet, I know, I've got to make sure that I'm doing that so that I can have the real partnership that I want, so that there's mutual trust, mutual respect, and that they're not taking advantage of me, and I'm not taking advantage of it. And so you know what, I got to go through that. And then once that's done, I put that away, because now I get to focus on the customer and what I want to do for my clients and customers. So I mean, it's a necessary part not my favorite, and yet, it's okay, because the majority of my time I get to spend doing exactly what I love to do.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  44:11  
And that's so wonderful. You mentioned that the best leaders are authentic leaders who play to their strengths. What personal example Do you have of that being true either from you or for someone you've watched, grow and transform?

Marsha Clark  44:28  
Yeah, I will tell you. I love my own example. And it's kind of it was one of those retrospective discoveries. So my first my number one strength is relator which is basically building one on one relationships. And that's my coaching work. So the one on one conversations I have it's all focused on my client, what do you want? What can we do to get there? What do we you know, all kinds of things. That is I love that and believe me those one on one conversations are what got me through the global pain. Because, and I'm finding a lot of people are needing coaching right now. And so I have more coaching clients than I've ever had in my business because there's a need for that talk to me about me moment, because we haven't had enough of that. And then the second one is strategic. So I am a big picture thinker, long term, connect the dots see around the corner, what's happening, what's coming, when I think about building the power of self program that I did. That was before its time, but I could see it. And there weren't many programs out there like that at the time. But I can help others see the big picture rather than getting so caught up in the moment and in a frenzy and a churn that we say, Okay, wait a minute, take a breath, let's look at this. So again, plays well into my work. The third is learner, I'm a lifelong learner always have been, always will be. And, you know, I read probably three books a month, and, you know, articles galore, because I love the learning the intake piece of that, right and, and then that, of course, I build into the work that I share and teach with others. And the fourth is belief. And this is one that for me, I want, I want a world that everyone can live in where women and girls are valued, because there's too many places and examples where that's not the case. And so I want to help contribute to that that's a bigger purpose as well for me. And then the last one is Woo, which is winning others over. And that's if relator is one to one, woo is one to many. And that's my teaching. So when I've got classes going on, I mean, I can just feel my energy, I'm ready to dance, I'm ready to you know, have a good time with that. Because I I love that. I love it. And I'm good at it. And so playing to those strengths. Now, I was doing this work before I ever did my Strengths Finder. Wow. Okay. And so, you know, thank you higher power, for providing that opportunity for me. But again, it was one of those retrospective moments. No wonder I'm so happy. No wonder I feel so fulfilled. No wonder I'm able to do this work with integrity and delivering value. Because it just makes sense. And I think when you we can do it, we can lead or enter the path. Either way, we can know what our strengths are and look for the job or the role or the the position that's going to help us play to that. Or we can just let our strengths guide us and move us to a place where we say, Oh, you know, look, when I look where I am, I'm in exactly that right place.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  47:52  
There's a couple of other tools in that chapter that we'll break down in future podcasts. But this last one that I want to touch on today is the list of questions you provide that helps people actually write their personal vision. These questions you say, are inspired by Robert Fritz's work called the anatomy of a vision. And so without giving too much away from the list itself, what are a couple of the suggestions and why are they so important to you?

Marsha Clark  48:24  
Yeah, you know, there, whenever we start to think big or dream big, our self talk almost always kicks in.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  48:35  
I mean, and not in a good way.

Marsha Clark  48:37  
Yeah, that's exactly right. Like, who am I to ask for that? Or that could never happen, or I could never have that. And yet, one of the questions is our guidelines is I want it because I want it and period, period period. That's right. And who, you know, again, it goes back to when you're five, you want everything and you're not afraid to ask for it and you think you're gonna get it right. And yet over time and life and all kinds of circumstances tell us and I'm not suggesting that just because we want it we should, you know, do everything possible and step on people to get there. I'm not suggesting that at all, but I'm just saying unencumbered by anything. Right? Well, what would it be if it could be anything you know, it this often comes in the format. If you won the lottery, what would you do? Well, we know people who win the lottery don't always do smart things. And so those times so that that doesn't work for me, but if you just in your mind's eye and this goes back to where I asked people questions, like where are you? And you know, as you think about this visioning piece, where are you? Who's with you? You know, what are you feeling at the moment? What are you feeling physically? What are you feeling emotionally, and you know, whether this this, I want it because I want it, whether it's in it In our family, whether it's in our health, whether it's in our financial security, whether it's in our communities, our friendship circles are, you know, what is present when we think about that vision, and I want it because I want it. And I'm not going to be limited by my self talk, I'm going to quiet that voice. And, and, and if I still hear that voice, can I just say, in a minute, you know, I mean, get through the process of creating the possibilities, and then put, just put that person on hold for a little bit, they're going to come back, we have them all the time I have them today, not a routine basis. And yet, I'm not going to give away me, and what I want to that voice, because that's just a voice. That's all it is. And I can tell myself something different.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  50:59  
So, how often would you suggest someone revisit their values and visions? And are there signs that we should watch out for that would warn us if we're getting off track?

Marsha Clark  51:10  
Yeah, I revisit my vision about once a year. And the reason I do that, usually at the end of the calendar year is I get ready for, you know, looking at the next year, because my calendars often filled up, you know, a year in advance because of courses and people having to plan accordingly. So I'm always looking at and, you know, I've read that if you want to know what's really important to someone look at their calendar and look at their checkbook. And so where are they spending their time? And where are they spending their money. And so when I look at how I spend my time, that's the big emphasis for me, and as I've aged, I think about time differently. And so I think you ought to do it at least once a year. And you ought to, you know, say what are, you know, two or three big things that I want to accomplish this year, or, and, and they don't always have to be professionally related. I want people to have goals from a personal standpoint as well. And, you know, an example for me is like, this has probably been, I guess, 2018 ish. I was looking and thinking about where am i going from here, and I was probably on an airplane in a, in a in a, an airport in a foreign country. Because I was doing a lot of global travel then. And I said to myself, you know, if I just start adding up all the time that I'm either on an airplane or in an airport, waiting to catch a plane, how many hours times the number of trips I make, and it was an it was an exorbitant amount for my relative speaking at the our thinking at that time, right. And so I chose I call it I retired my passport in 2019. So the last trip that I was making for this particular client was going to be my last one. And I did the setup to get you know, other people lined up to do the work that I was doing. So some of my associates assumed the responsibility for some of those. And, you know, I haven't looked back, it was the right decision, because I wanted to spend more time with my grandchildren, I wanted to spend more time writing, I wanted to spend more time, you know, with friends, and I've been launching a podcast and launching a podcast. That's exactly true. That is absolutely true. And because I want to be able to provide this information in service to others, in a bigger way than what my program is that you just can't run enough programs or coaching people to share this with as many people who I think can benefit from it and who have told me they benefit from it. So that accessibility and it was a different way of thinking about that. And so that was a shift in my you know, visioning when I got clearer about that. So I think that's the best example I can give you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  53:53  
Well, Marsha, you have had an incredible corporate career. And this is last question for this episode. So 20 plus years now as a small business owner and entrepreneur and you've coached 1000s of leaders from around the world, and that's just on the professional side. Would you say looking at your life right now, in this moment that you are living your purpose?

Marsha Clark  54:20  
Yeah, most definitely. Yes. And there are two things that come to mind. When I think about this one is the the saying that says when you love what you do, you never go to work. So this isn't work out or this is not work for me. I had a wonderful woman at sea shore. She's no longer with us. But she was one of my professors in my master's program. And she was in her late 70s teaching. And one of the my classmates asked her, you know, at when are you going to retire? And she said, Well, what is retirement? And the person said, well, it's when you finally get to do what you love to do. She said, well then I'm retired. And I love that. I mean, I have adopted that, and that was 20 years ago. But that's the way I think about this. I love what I do. So it's not going to work, it is a pleasure. And it gives me energy, it feeds my soul. And it prompts me to be continuously learning on how to better support others. And, and, and I'll share this with you, because I think it's a, it's a nice companion piece, if you will, on the visioning piece. In the programs that I do, we also often ask people to create a leadership stand, and they you know, they have to share that at the end of the multi session type of program. And they always ask me what mine is, and I will never tell them because they can't copy mine, they have to create their own. And here is my what I will call my leadership stand, which also is a part of what guides my visioning and values and living the life that that I want to live. And it is my the love that I've shared the truth that I've told, and the work that I've done, speak for me.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  56:09  
Wow, wow...

Marsha Clark  56:13  
I can talk about this stuff all day long. But if my life isn't representing the love that I've shared the truth that I've told in the work that I've done, then I'm ashamed. I'm not all right. And I'm a hypocrite. I'm a, you know, Snake, oil salesman, whatever you want to put around it, but this is what I try to use as again, my guide. And I, you know, I can quote this to anybody, anytime, anywhere because it truly is a part of me as well.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  56:44  
Well, Marsha, thank you for today. And thank you audience, those of you listening for joining us today on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please, we invite you to download and subscribe to this your authentic path to powerful leadership with Marcia Clark on iTunes, Google Spotify, or wherever you prefer to listen to your podcasts and to please visit Marsh's website at power of self.com for links to all the tools and other resources we discussed today. anthracis and to subscribe to her email list so that you stay up to date on everything in the power of self self world. You can also thought okay, stop, cluck. Stop, edit. I'm gonna do the closing again. You'll know where that is. editor. I'm going to say all this again because I'm just stumbling over my words. Okay. Three, two. Marsha, thank you so much for everything you've shared with us today. And thank you, audience for joining us here on our journey of authentic powerful leadership. We invite you to download and subscribe to this podcast your authentic paths powerful leadership with Marcia Clark on iTunes, Google Spotify, or wherever you like to listen and to please visit, stop. And to please visit Marsha's website at power of self comm for links to all the tools and other resources we discussed today. Subscribe to her email list so that you stay up to date on everything in the power of self world. You can also find out more about Marsha and her latest book embracing your power on the site as well as other social media channels of hers.

Marsha Clark  58:41  
And Wendi, I just want to say also to our listeners, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me connect with me via email or social media channels you can find us out there in a lots of different places with any questions or thoughts or comments that you have. This is a part of how we keep it fresh and keep it real is for us to hear from our listeners and our readers and the people that participate in our activities. So we hope you'll join us again next week. And you know, one of my mantras and and and my sign off to emails and I think appropriately to sign off on this podcast is here's to women, supporting women