In her Leaders & Daughters article, Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President for Retail at Apple and the former CEO of Burberry, writes to her daughters, Sommer and Angelina, to provide them advice on navigating their future life’s journey. Her message is simple: “Always be present, read the signs, stay in your lane and never back up more than you have to.” This same advice she has used in her own highly successful career. The gift she shares with them is a gift for all great leaders as they direct their own magnificent life’s journey.
Dear Sommer and Angelina: Hopefully you won’t read anything in this letter that you haven’t already heard from me many times before. I’ve always tried to lead by example when we are together, so I will do the same in this letter by reminding you of a few thoughts that will help you navigate your incredible life journey ahead: Always be present, read the signs, stay in your lane and never back up more than you have to.
Always be present. Being fully present, by listening, feeling, empathizing—always holding serious eye contact, and often the touch of a hand—builds trust. Trust builds confidence and confidence enables you to look forward, dream more and focus on others vs. yourself. Being present is the greatest gift you can give another person, and the greatest way to more closely connect with them. When you are present, you are living in the moment vs in your mind. You are seeing, hearing, and feeling another person, and together you are even more empowered to do great things. This is a gift that often comes more naturally to women.
Stay open; always try to read the signs as you pass by them or they pass by you. I’ve often reminded you that there are no coincidences. Everything that happens in your life is for a reason or was predestined. Every book you receive, every new person you meet, everything you call lucky is a sign just waiting to be read. It is tough when you are young and so inward-focused but, once in a while, you will look back, make the connection and then be more open to and curious about those signs in the future. You see, signs aren’t blatant or obvious. You have to be open and present to instinctively feel or intuitively see them. You’ve seen firsthand, and we have often discussed, the role signs have played in my life and the incredible things that have happened as a result of me listening and reacting to them. You are blessed as sensitive women to more naturally understand this.
Connect to your passion and then just stay in your lane. Great athletes, musicians, scientists, etc., all have an expertise that they focus on and perfect. Don’t let anyone persuade you to do anything that doesn’t feel natural or isn’t aligned with your values or God-given gifts. You know what excites you more than anyone else. The sooner you recognize your passions, and the more you focus, the happier you will be and the greater success you will achieve. Still, don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what your lane is yet. The path will illuminate itself so long as you stay present, open to the signs, and follow your passions. It’s all related.
Never back up more than you need to, and this means in life, not just when driving. Just as you are blind to what’s behind you while backing up a car, if you keep looking back in life and focusing too much on the past, you may find yourself running things over and over in your mind, often seeing or creating things that never existed in the first place. Even worse, living in reverse blinds you to what lies ahead: your lifelong dreams waiting to be achieved, your destiny waiting to be fulfilled.
Nelson Mandela tells great leaders: “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” May we always be present, and choose to fully live every day, every precious moment of our beautiful life. Life is so very, very good.
Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!