“A Mindful Leadership Story by Meryl Moritz”
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller
My parents fed and housed me but did not provide much guidance. Looking back, one memory in particular stands out: I remember my father tossing me into a pool and because I did not know how to swim I sunk like a rock. I was frightened and angry when my father fished me out laughing. I received the message loud and clear: figure it out myself and don’t ask for help.
Fast-forward 15 years. I’m now in my post-college life and living pretty much on my own. The idea of asking for guidance was the furthest thought from my mind. I participated in the era of drugs, sex and rock n’ roll, spent time with people who were going nowhere, and married the wrong man. As a result of my choices, my self-esteem suffered. I knew I needed a change, but given my history of not asking for help, I did not know where to turn.
A friend who lived in my building suggested I attend a women-only in career transition workshop. I signed up, attended, and (for the first time) experienced women asking for help from each other. Throughout the twelve week workshop, I researched different fields, reached out to my network, and while it felt uncomfortable and a little anxiety provoking, I asked for help from everyone I knew. The visual in my head of my father tossing me into the pool was still there but now other women were throwing me a life jacket. I did not have to do it alone.
Soon after the workshop, I found a career that was a perfect fit for my talents and interests and landed a job in a large, reputable public relations firm. With my confidence growing, the domino effect went into play and over the course of the next three years I was promoted to VP, received multiple raises, and finished grad school with high honors. My increased sense of self and confidence spilled over into my personal life. I finally had the courage to leave a marriage that wasn’t healthy and got remarried to a sentient, thinking, whole man. I wouldn’t have been able to make these changes in my life had I not had the support and guidance of others.
Looking back on my experience as a seven year old, the “Do It Yourself” philosophy did not work for me: all it produced was a feeling of loneliness and an aversion to ask for help. Thankfully over time, I have learned it can take one courageous act of asking for help – whether during a Women in Transition Workshop, finding my first female mentor, or hiring a career coach to start a domino effect and get things moving in the right direction.
The last decade the foundation of my work and life passion has been supporting young women build meaningful careers, helping homeless women get back on their feet, and sponsoring women in war torn countries obtain education in order to meet basic needs for themselves and their families. Often my mentees’ accomplishments exceed my own. This delights me because I can pay it forward and throw a life jacket to someone else in need.
Meryl Moritz, Principal of Meryl Moritz Resources, holds a special place in my heart. I met Meryl while she was teaching coaching at NYU and knew that she was someone I wanted to model my career after. She mentored me with her generous spirit and love of coaching, supporting me and even throwing me a life jacket the many times I found myself in over my head. I would not be where I am today without her.
In addition to being Principal of Meryl Moritz Resources, she continues to help others as in her roles of Vice Chair of the International Coaching Federation, teaching at University of Miami, and Coaching Fellows through SupporTED.