My Journey to Become the Noun

On the day before Columbus Day this October, I drove from Tulsa, OK to Bartlesville, OK. The credit union I was working with was hosting an all day learning session for their team. I had the opportunity to speak on innovation and how we can solve human problems and drive stronger business results when we see the world through other human beings’ eyes.

As I often do when I drive, I listened to a podcast. The podcast featured the magnificent actress Ellen Burstyn. In the conversation, the host, Anna Sale, explored a bit about motherhood and talked about how as a mom you “do the verb to become the noun.” I imagined the mothering that I’ve done so far, especially in the early days when MacKenzie was born and how intense it was. It never ended. It consumed me. As hard as we had worked to have her, I worried I couldn’t handle it. As hard as that is to type, the days were endless and when she cried I often had no idea what she wanted.

I was also so fiercely independent and determined that despite the fact that my husband and mom wanted to help, that I had to be able to do it on my own. I thwarted the help when offered and honestly wasn’t very kind. I remember one morning in particular, MacKenzie had a doctor’s appointment. I had gotten ready and my mom was going along. I put MacKenzie in her car seat and she was crying. I had the diaper bag, my purse, and several other things draped over my arms and was trying to carry all that out our back door. I was bouncing into the door and likely looked very discombobulated. My mom kindly asked if she could help. I snapped back, “No. I’m going to have to be able to do this when you leave. I better figure it out now, don’t you think?” I cringe thinking about that response. Of course, my mom, already long the noun, just got in the car quietly and continued to offer to help when she thought I might not respond with such unwarranted venom.

Eventually we got into our groove. I gained some confidence. I went back to work and had a balance of doing things I knew I could do well with this unknown world where I was a novice at best. I learned that during the “witching hour” if I played enough Pink and danced without stopping, she’d settle down. I remember how joyful I was when MacKenzie first said, “momma” and how I’d started to become the noun. I changed diapers, nursed, bathed, rocked, read, worried and loved myself into being “momma.”

What struck me about this concept of “becoming the noun,” was how true this had been in all parts of my life. When I started running, I joined the middle school cross country team. At the first meet, with adrenal raging, I sprinted the first quarter mile of the race and quickly realized I could not possibly keep up such an intense pace for the remaining 2.76 miles. As my parents and best friend went quickly from cheering wildly, thinking I was going to be the next Prefointaine to worrying if I was going to need medical attention, I walked for a bit in embarrassment, and eventually finished near the back of the pack. I learned my lesson about pacing oneself. I practiced and built my endurance and every single day, six days per week, I ran. I became a runner.

As a leader, the same is true. I may have received a “manager” or “VP” title, but the work of developing and sharing a vision, delegating, crafting strategy, listening, creating alignment, fostering teamwork, nurturing accountability, and being a part of the team all were the actions of leading that eventually helped me to become a leader.

You earn being the noun. You sweat being the noun. You fail at being the noun. The honor of being the noun means the work is never done. That’s what this blog is about. The journey of one human working to become the best noun she can be. I hope you’ll share your stories of becoming the best noun you can be as well. We share this imperfect path of life together.

Comments

  1. I've read most of your thoughts over the years, my friend. This is by far my favorite. Keep doing what you do, and being one of the coolest "nouns" on the planet.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Todd! You are an inspiring “noun” as well.

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