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I’ve been called every name in the book for bossy: opinionated, strident, loud, overbearing, full of vinegar, pushy and domineering. This started a long time ago, when I was in elementary school. I was smart and bossy, really good at telling everyone what to do and how to do it. I was so unsure of myself and with everything going on at home, I didn’t really know how to make or keep friends. I really wanted people to like me though, I knew that much as a little girl. I wanted to be popular, I knew that too. And I never was. Not in elementary school or high school (I think we’ve covered that already if you’ve been reading this blog for a bit – see high school was hell). It’s a big part of the reason why I loved Tina Fey’s book, Bossy Pants.

This is on a card that my boss has in her office and it’s totally a boss move to have this card. Wish I knew where it was from.

I realize now that I really just wanted attention and I was so anxious as a kid that I used being smart as a way of getting praise. As I got older, this need to be the smartest and hardest working made me put incredible pressure on myself and drive myself pretty hard to achieve. As I got older, my bossiness was dampened by bullying and exclusion but it reared its head again in university. I became singularly focused on achievement again, drowning my grief and anxiety in my work. After undergrad, I went to graduate school where once again I worked myself to the bone trying to get the carrots that were in front of me: scholarships, internships, a spot in a coveted Ph.D. program.

It wasn’t until I really got into the world of work that I started to see myself as a leader, as someone who could helpfully guide and leverage the strengths of others in service of a common goal. This is genuinely what I love about leading: working with a team of people who are all talented and focused. I’m lucky that I get to lead, it’s a privilege many take for granted. xo Janet

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