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Why the PA Conference for Women Was Transformational for Me

Seven Transformational Lessons from the PA Conference for Women

[Thanks to attendee Colleen Mook for sharing her experiences and takeaways from the 2011 Conference in the following guest post.]

1.  Sharing your intentions and goals with others matters.

In one session, led by Betsy Myers, we were asked to stand up and declare what we want from our lives to the person sitting next to us. Saying this out loud to another person made it real and created a sense of accountability, and I now use this tool very often. I know that when I tell people my intentions, I will follow through.

2.  Embrace your fear.

Everyone feels fear, but rather than letting it hold you back, the key is learning to embrace it and use it productively. It is healthy to fear our endeavors, because it means we are pushing ourselves. I try to stretch out of my comfort zone at least once a day because then I know I am growing, and this has led to some powerful results.

3.  “Failure can be the catalyst to great success.”

So said speaker Marion Jones, former Olympic track and field star. We are all going to fail, and all of the great ones have failed a lot along the way. I now tell myself I am working towards greatness each time a failure comes my way.

4.  Do the “Brain Dump.”

In her workshop, Mel Robbins gave me a new tool that I use now called a “brain dump.” Every morning I wake, pull out my copybook and write down all the random stuff that’s in my head (and there’s a lot of random stuff in my head…the Must-Do’s, the Wanna-Do’s, the Don’t Wanna Do’s, etc.). Now I just write it down and get it out of my head and plan my day from there with a clear mind. It is quite freeing to see all those thoughts on paper and out of my head, and that makes it easy to prioritize and get moving.

5.  “Treat ourselves as well as we treat others.”

Gloria Steinem shared this and I love it. As women we are such amazing caregivers to everyone but ourselves. I am the mother of four young children (11, 9, 7 and 2), including one with special needs, as well as a business owner, wife and so much more. I decided right then and there it was time to really put me first, because I can’t take care of my family and my business if I’m not strong and happy. Now that I’m making a conscious effort to treat myself well, I’ve found I quite like it. It feels so good to take care of me, and my children are no worse. Actually, they are probably even better.

6.  Get inspired!

You will see great speakers and meet some incredible women at this conference, women from whom you can learn and with whom you can connect. All of them will be interesting and helpful, and some in particular will inspire you to reach new heights. For me, Tory Johnson really struck a chord. I met Tory at her Small Business Boot Camp at the PA Conference for Women in 2011, and I now consider her a mentor and credit her with much of the recent success of my business, Baby Be Hip. Go to the conference, find your inspiration, and be a sponge!

7.  Girlfriends matter.

I’ve always known that, and I have great girlfriends from past areas of my life. What was missing, however, were what Tory Johnson calls Business Best Friends (BBF’s). This past year I have made the best BBF’s, and we now have two tables at the PA Conference for Women! It’s pretty incredible and humbling when you have girlfriends in every arena of your life, and my BBF’s are terrific (and helpful)!

I have always considered myself a pro-women kind of gal, but after going to this conference I wanted to be and do even more. It greatly encouraged me to continue to surround myself with women—and particularly like-minded women—who have big dreams and visions for their lives. Five thousand women together in one room showed that we really can help each other as we navigate our journeys through life. Thank you, Penn Women!

Colleen Mook is the founder and president of Baby Be Hip and a co-founder of Sunshine Hope, an enterprise focused on empowering kids to overcome challenges and become happy, fulfilled adults. Her most important pastime, however, is raising her four incredible children.