by Elizabeth Norton
IBM Vice President
Value Services Operations and Strategy
Get ready for a full and happy life ahead! One of the best pieces of advice I can offer… is to be thankful for family and friends. They will be there for you at every critical point in your life. While you may not realize it, every day, you’re learning lessons that will last a lifetime. Not a day will pass that you won’t be grateful for your family, friends and upbringing as it’s prepared you so well for the future.
Growing up as the only girl among five children sure has challenges. This however, is a blessing in disguise. Don’t cast aside “the yet to be known” benefits of growing up in a house full of boys. Enjoy the competition, learn how to express your opinions, embrace the challenges and adventures the five of you will share. Play sports… ice hockey in particular, is something that will bond you and your brothers together. Those early days of being one of the first girls to play ice hockey aren’t easy… yet it will bring many rewards. You’ll benefit from the camaraderie, teamwork and friendships you forge as part of that girl’s ice hockey team. Winning as a team is great fun too!
Listen to your Dad when he encourages you to go to college, become an engineer, leave the nest… and look beyond the auto industry for your first job! The words of encouragement set the stage for boundless opportunities beyond your imagination. His confidence in your skills and abilities will help guide and steer you toward a fulfilling path.
Learn from the best and those you admire. Watch your father coach… all those hockey teams… this is a hidden treasure of your childhood. Not too many kids have the opportunity to observe first hand the attributes of an exceptional leader. Take the time to observe the coaching and leadership techniques that transform a group of individuals into a high performing team. This too, will serve you well in the business world.
Gather strength from your mother’s quiet resolve and grace under pressure approach to problem solving. In the face of a crisis… like the time you and your brother managed to rip the car door off its’ hinges… your mother managed to remain calm, gather the facts and decide on a course of action. You’ll encounter many challenging situations both personal and professional along your life journey. This early lesson on “grace under pressure” will come in handy.
Finally, try not to be so hard on yourself. It’s ok to make mistakes, without them, you won’t learn! Remember, nothing is as bad as it seems and while the journey may not be easy, keep moving forward, one step at a time…
With love, Elizabeth Norton