It is with a grateful heart that I introduce my guest blogger, Chrissanne Long, to you. For many of you in Lakeland, Chrissanne needs no introduction. She’s widely connected to our community through the Lakeland Business Leaders organization she founded and she serves the business community – my business included – as a digital marketing specialist through her role as CEO of Maximize Digital Media. My relationship with Chrissanne epitomizes my business tagline, “Let’s grow together”. We are truly “growing together” as we serve as trusted advisors to each other. Chrissanne’s passion is helping small and mid-sized businesses thrive and to excel at that she’s keenly aware of the need to be the highest and best version of herself as she advises her clients and leads her agency team. This past February she started my 2016 Mastering Leadership Program and has authored a 4-part blog series about her journey through the program.
Where Do Leaders Go?
I met Emily Rogers, a leadership coach in Lakeland, FL, at a women’s retreat several years ago. I ran into her again shortly after that retreat and then, it seemed our paths continued to cross. I learned of her experience with IEG, and her relatively new adventure as an entrepreneur. When she approached me to help her with some strategic marketing for her executive coaching business, I was thrilled to help her. Today, I celebrate how the relationship with Emily has evolved. At first, I didn’t even realize, or think of myself as an “executive” that might need an executive coach. But if I have learned one thing in this life, it is to pay attention to the people I meet. They are all sent to teach me something – as long as my heart is open to learn.
My life, since 2009 has been a whirlwind. I left the classroom after 10 years in the public school system for “life as an entrepreneur.” My partner Craig and I launched a digital marketing consulting business that focused on helping businesses with their online presence. That first year was like learning to walk all over again. While I had my Masters in Internet Marketing, being a digital marketing content expert was not the same as being a business owner, and embarking on this journey forced me to discover leadership qualities in myself that I had no idea existed. I wrote a blog post in which I referred to myself as a “Sleeping Leader.”
When I created the Lakeland Business Leaders, it was to help businesses connect with one another, and my core purpose was to raise awareness for the local businesses in our community. But the byproduct was finding myself in a role of leadership that scared me more than anything I had ever done before. I immersed myself in leadership books, TED talks, blogs… anything I could get my hands on that would help guide me as an emerging leader in my community.
My favorite message of faith came from a Steve Jobs quote: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Meeting Emily is a testament to the fact that the dots we are connecting in our journeys exist for a greater purpose. So, it was no surprise to me when the day came that Emily was in my office for a marketing strategy meeting, talking about ways to market her new leadership development workshop that it dawned on me… I needed to hire Emily. I needed to enroll in the Mastering Leadership Program.
I had been struggling with the idea of “Playing Bigger,” and how to take my personal and professional game to another level, but with my limited experience, I could not personally see what that looked like. I was also trying to defeat that inner dialogue that kept suggesting that my lack of experience was going to hold me back. That inner voice kept chiding me: “You’re not good enough, not experienced enough…” And I knew, if I couldn’t overcome these doubts, I would talk myself right into staying where I was, which was not going to serve me or anyone else in my life.
Right in Front of Me
Looking back, I realize, that day was a turning point in my career. Not only did I have one of the most experienced, talented, intelligent mentors in the area, I had a friend, spiritual guide, and confidante that spoke objectively and honestly to me about my strengths and weaknesses. I was allowed the opportunity to work through the challenges I was facing without judgment or criticism. And she’d been right there in front of me all this time!
Enter Mastering Leadership
As I write this and the Mastering Leadership program is drawing to a close, I am able to reflect on this segment of my leadership development journey and these new dots that have helped me grow in many meaningful ways.
The Mastering Leadership program was expertly delivered and included a leadership assessment tool that opened my eyes to so much. The leadership training workshops, retreats and one-on-one coaching time with Emily were, simply put, much needed Nourishment for my soul.
I will continue to write about this experience, because I believe it is important for others near and far to recognize the need for an executive coach as a means to create sustainable, healthy organizations that can impact our world in very important ways.
If you want to know more about the program, follow this blog series, as I share more personal experiences about the Assessment, Workshops, Retreats and how I have brought Emily to my employees at Maximize to help us take our agency to the next level.
About Chrissanne Long
Chrissanne’s passion is helping small and mid-sized businesses thrive. To excel at that, she’s keenly aware of the need to be the highest and best version of herself as she advises her clients and leads her agency team. This past February she started my 2016 Mastering Leadership Program and has authored a 4-part blog series about her journey through the program.