Strawberries and muesli

An award winning, and not winning, journey

Dear 25 year old me,

This year you’ve had the absolute honour of being nominated for two awards. It will definitely sound corny, but the journey of going through the process in itself has made you feel like you’d already won, regardless of the outcome.

Let’s talk about the 40under40 awards first. Firstly, what a fantastic award run by business news recognising business professionals from all backgrounds, under the age of 40.

You received word that you were nominated via a phone call, and what a surprise it was. You didn’t know much about these awards, apart from the fact that your business partner had once had the honour of winning it many years ago. What an achievement.

While you were elated and feeling very honoured, admittedly, you didn’t at all feel deserving of it. “What have I actually achieved in my career?”, you thought to yourself, that could actually ‘compete’ with all the other amazing people that were nominated as well.

Well there’s two realisations to this part of the story.

1. The word ‘compete’ was definitely the wrong word to use in this context and as soon as you were able to re-align your thoughts and understand this, you were able to see that it was indeed a life changing opportunity. These awards were an opportunity to better understand yourself by pausing to reflect on your journey; where you’ve been, where you are now and where you want to go.

2. The second moment of clarity came from understanding that this was one of those moments in life where it’s only about you and allowing yourself to openly celebrate what you’ve done so far. No comparison to others. No measuring against what others have set as the target. No one else, just you.

This journey indeed helped you with gaining this clarity and insight into who you are and what your values are. You were able to see who you weren’t – and also who you didn’t want to become.

What did you find out?

You’re not an entrepreneur.
You’re not an expert.
You’re not a squillionaire.
You’re not a saint.
But… you’re happy.
You’re truly unique.
You’re you.

You make a decision at this point to not include any financials in your award entry, and kept all of the answers to the multitude of questions in line with your values and views on leadership and the industry.

Money isn’t, and will never be, the driver to why you do what you do, so you definitely didn’t want to focus on this component at all on the entry. Honestly at one point, a tiny part of you thought maybe the game could have been ‘played’ a little better; it was a business award after all.

Today, you have no regrets and can’t be more pleased that you remained true and honest about yourself, and your decision towards omitting that info.

TL;DR version AND spoiler alert: you didn’t win.

BUT that’s ok, because you also didn’t feel like you lost. What an amazing journey that was – full of emotion and growth in your self awareness. Without going through this, you wouldn’t have learnt what you did about yourself. An absolutely amazing and priceless opportunity.

Plus… it was a lovely dinner for the awards night.

The second story, I can tell you, has a much better (almost) ending to it.

To add to the excitement of having gone through the 40under40 award process, you find out not too long after that you were also nominated for the Telstra Business Women Awards.

Wow. What a ride this is!

This time, the award entry process was very different. The questions were much more difficult, diving into immensely deeper topics such as values, leadership, inclusiveness, challenges, social impact and more. It takes you months to complete the entry; you needed to dig deep – very deep – to answer openly and honestly.

Again, on submitting this entry, you feel like you’ve uncovered a completely raw version of yourself. It was confronting and uncomfortable, but it was truly liberating.

At this point truly it feels like you’ve won regardless of the outcome – it feels like you’ve uncovered a new you. This unearthed you is beaming with potential and very open to new opportunities and experiences.

With this new you, your comfort zone is challenged and you already see endless possibilities and exciting doors open in front of you.

Since submitting your entry, you were shortlisted in the top 10% for entrants in Western Australia, which was unbelievable, but also meant that the next stage meant participating in an interview in front of a judging panel.

The whole process was completely out of your comfort zone and you had to overcome a lot of self doubt and insecurity. Today, you were informed that you’re actually a finalist.

Fancy that, you – yes you – actually made it through to the next stage.

Well done, kiddo!

Keep challenging yourself and keep positive. Really let yourself exist in and celebrate this moment.

This story is still being written, so stay tuned for the next chapter. For now, really enjoy this part of your life and live it.

Patima x