Our CEO, Phaedra Deckart, talked at the 12th Women in Energy & Resources Leadership Summit, and as part of her reflection about what it takes to be a great leader, she was asked to write a letter to her daughter. It’s called, “Advice to my daughter – keep going”. A copy of the letter is shared below.
I have been meaning to write this letter to you for a while now.
You see, I wanted to put down in writing some advice that I hope will help you as you grow into a young woman. It’s not a rule book, but more like some useful suggestions for you that I have collected from my own experience.
I am immensely proud of you and your brother. Far more than you’ll understand right now. You may not believe me, but if I had done nothing else with my life, having the privilege of being your Mum would have been enough.
Today, as I navigate being your mother and also a company CEO, I’m often asked how I have managed it all.
I think that is the wrong question. The questions should be “How can you achieve what you want?”. And, Audrey, you really shouldn’t place any limitation on what you can do. If you want to live a life where family is a focus, this can support your opportunities, not limit them.
But whatever your personal goals are, if you can, find a way where work and life don’t “balance” against each other like competing forces. Instead seek a way to live so that work and your personal life are in harmony with each other, where one supports the other.
I hope you’ll see that we have done that, or at least, this is what your Dad and I have tried to do, the best we can.
So that’s Number One: FORGET WORK LIFE BALANCE, SEEK HARMONY
I heard a great quote on this recently – it isn’t about squeezing everything into one day, that is impossible. Instead you need to try and spread what matters to you throughout the week.
You can’t have it all at once, but you can probably have most of it over time. And, time really is our only limiting factor.
The pandemic taught us that almost every role can be done flexibly, the opportunities to make this work for you will be better than ever. Take advantage of that when you can.
Right now, living in Tasmania has given us a unique opportunity to live a five-minute life to work, school, home and city. Somehow, it works. There is a solution. Find it.
My second piece of advice is BE THE CAPTAIN OF YOUR OWN SHIP.
My daughter, please make the choices that are right for you. You’ll have opportunities that will seem like they are once-in-a-lifetime, but they may not be quite right for you. And, there will be a little voice inside you that tries to tell you that. Listen to that voice. It will almost always be right.
Here’s a quote from Imam Al -Shafi’l:
“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and what has missed me was never meant for me.”
It’s good advice. Make your decisions and then make real peace with them. That doesn’t mean missing your shot. Recognise your opportunities but choose them wisely.
That brings me to the third piece of advice TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY, SAY YES TO EVERYTHING. THEN WORK OUT HOW TO DO IT AFTERWARDS
I know this one seems at odds with the second piece of advice. But, Audrey what I mean by this is “say yes to everything that is right for you”.
Don’t hold yourself back from an opportunity if you are not 100 per cent sure you can do it. You almost certainly can. Back yourself. I believe in you. And so do many others around you.
Number Four: RAISE YOUR HAND.
Don’t wait to be asked or tapped on the shoulder. Scout out opportunities and raise your hand to be considered for them. If you don’t push yourself forward, you won’t be successful. Even if you don’t get the position, if you don’t get chosen, you will still learn a lot through the preparation and interview process. Remember that lateral moves widen your perspective, and your experience base, and can make you even more valuable in the long-run.
This next one is important, life can be tough. That’s Number Five: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER LET WHAT PEOPLE SAY DRAG YOU DOWN
No matter what makes you an individual, it’s not right that you should have to have thick skin. I believe all people should have empathy for others and I hope you do everything you can to create diverse and inclusive environments.
But it happens.
Just rise above it.
It’s tough, but it’s the only option.
Dwelling on it is a waste of time. Push on and do better.
Finally, ENJOY THE JOURNEY. You are fortunate to have everything you need to live a wonderful life and that’s exactly what you deserve. Of course, there are unexpected twists and turns, but if you seek the life you want, put yourself forward, back your decisions and don’t listen to the critics then I know you’ll do just fine.
I’m already so proud of you. Go for it!