Under my bare foot stands a treasured copper bowl. Inside is a salmon roe pastry, lovingly fashioned by my mother from family recipes. Meanwhile, the welcome heat of the oven is brewing on my stovetop, a blessed relief from the vast winter. I’m no chef, but I do have a few canapes for my business lunch, and thanks to a few handy improvisations, my lunch will start running a few minutes early.
Meanwhile, a familiar caw from my parrot is issuing orders, hungry, from far away in a distant jungle. I do not recognize the small bird, and don’t know where it’s from, nor do I have the slightest idea what it could possibly want from me.
I was taught not to express any of these ideas, and if I had, I would not be telling you the story of my life and career to two young women, colleagues, who are thinking about becoming young women. They are curious. There are dozens of ways to feed a craving without demonstrating any means of sending it forward, but they are wondering, and will wonder, where to turn next. And I am sharing with them an exercise.
I am creating the challenges from scratch, how to think about my life and work as I imagined them when I was much younger and maybe even more clueless about what I wanted. By working with them, I see what still needs work, and I also discover what doesn’t. I can’t promise them anything, but I can make it easy. There is so much at stake. I want them to turn a challenge into a moment of making a shift in behavior, and maybe toward becoming the leader they want to be.
Adapted from Lynn Brenner, introvert by choice: Candid Little Conversations with Women, $22.