[October 24, 2024 – Blog] There was much to learn at a recent C200 Conference I attended in San Diego. C200 (Committee of 200) is a stellar group of women business leaders that I have been a member of since 2005. As a tradition, we gather for an annual conference to learn from each other by sharing advice on life’s ups and downs, along with a fantastic lineup of inspiring speakers.
One of this year’s speakers was Mary M. Jackson, a retired Vice Admiral in the US Navy and now an independent board director and consultant. Her life story is fascinating as she revealed how she broke numerous barriers as a high-ranking female in the military. She also shared some of her challenges and secrets on succeeding as a leader in difficult times.
At one point she stopped and said, “Wait.” To make her point, she followed with a long pause that seemed to last for an eternity but was actually just a few seconds. She went on to explain that W.A.I.T. stands for Why Am I Talking? She told us that sometimes we need to stop and listen because giving others a chance to speak and share their views makes us all much wiser.
As a big extrovert, I talk a lot when I am in a group or even one-on-one. While that is okay in many settings, I do need to take the Admiral’s advice more often. Sometimes I need to shut my mouth and listen to others in the room. Staying silent can help me gain insight or see a different path. However, it is not just about being quiet, it is truly listening to others.
Towards the end of Admiral Jackson’s speech, she opened up the room for questions. When I stood up to ask a question, she said, “Gay, I remember the speech you gave for Generation W with Donna Orender, and I have your book.” Wow. I don’t always know who’s in the room during a speech or who might tune in to a podcast recording, but it is an amazing feeling to know that someone like Mary was listening. It makes all the preparation, travel and logistics worth it to deliver my messages on leadership, hope and energy.
And, I guarantee you, I will be practicing the ‘W.A.I.T. rule’ more often. Perhaps it will help me learn something valuable to pass on to you and others.
Shutting my tater trap…
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