Ask Ajna welcomes our first guest blogger, Marsha Clark, owner of Marsha Clark and Associates. Marsha is an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary legacy. She has inspired thousands of women and is the inspiration for Ask Ajna. In her own words, here is the legacy Marsha Clark wants to leave:
May the love that I’ve shared,
May the truth that I’ve told,
May the work that I’ve done,
Speak for me.
– Marsha Clark
May the Love that I’ve Shared…
I have a beautiful family that I love unconditionally. I have been a widow for eight years, and my husband Dale is still a huge part of my life. He was my biggest fan and supported me in being my best self. I’m a better person because he was in my life. My children and grandchildren are the lights of my life and it’s for them that I think most about legacy. My sons are married and fathers to my three granddaughters. My hope is that they will be models of how men treat women – in the way they treat their wives and the ways they love their daughters. Like all families, we’ve had our ups and downs, enjoying the good times and aching during the hard times. All the while, my deep and abiding love for them is ever-present. I want them to know how much they mean to me, how I hope to be a good role model for them – as a mother, as a wife, as a mother-in-law, and as Mimi to my granddaughters.
I am blessed to have so many dear, dear friends – from childhood, from neighborhoods, from workplaces – and inevitably most of my clients also become dear friends. Being a good friend is important to me. I want deep, meaningful, rich relationships, and I work hard to create them and sustain them. In Margaret Wheatley’s “8 Fearless Questions” DVD, she cites this phrase as something she would like to have on her tombstone and I love the sentiment: “We were together – I forget the rest.” My friendships are dear and treasured. The legacy I hope to leave is one of being a strong, reliable friend – someone who practices and models the following from the book Managing from the Heart (Dell Publishing, 1993) with some adaptation:
- H – Hear and understand me
- E – Even if you disagree, please don’t make me wrong
- A – Acknowledge the greatness within me
- R – Remember to honor my loving intentions
- T – Tell me your truth with compassion
I’m not perfect at this, and I continuously strive to practice these principles with my family and friends.
May the Truth that I’ve Told…
I am careful with these words. Just as I want to hear your truth, offered with compassion, I want to offer that as well. This starts with me being honest with mysef. I want to leave a legacy of the value of self-awareness – knowing my habits, my defaults – and managing myself with integrity and in service. I have to brutally honest in knowing my strengths and using them, knowing my deficiencies and acknowledging them. I have to get really clear about my intentions and speak those in a transparent, candid way. Until I can look in the mirror with such brutal honesty, I can’t live in integrity when relating to others.
And as for my relationships with others – I have delivered some very difficult messages because I strive to ‘talk to you rather than about you.’ I want to help others live a most purposeful and fulfilling life. I want them to enjoy success – personally and professionally. Knowing the truth of my intentions in helping them gives me the courage to have these sometimes difficult conversations. I am just as generous with praise – offering my truth in a balanced and meaningful way. And as I find myself ‘making up stories’ when I may not know the full truth, I ask myself, “What else could be true?” (Thank you, Diana Echols.)
And the last point in speaking about my truth – may I see clearly and bear witness to what is – the beauty, the complexity, the harshness, the unfairness, the joy, the possibility. And may I help others to see their truth and their reality as it is, believing that when we deal with our realities, we lead a more meaningful life. A dear colleague and friend, Connie Youngblood, taught me that “when we know better, we do better.” Seeing and living in our truth helps us to know better.
May the Work that I’ve Done…
‘Hi, my name is Marsha, and I’m a workaholic.’ I love working, particularly when I’m doing something meaningful and purposeful. The legacy I hope to leave, particularly for women, is that working is not something we should feel guilty about or that we should consider a sacrifice. I know that I was a better mother because I worked. I have had a long and varied career – working in retail, for the federal government, in a booming technology company, and now as an entrepreneur. I’ve traveled extensively around the globe – meeting fascinating people, impacting businesses, and personal lives. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel that my current work – leadership and executive development – is my purposeful work. Dare I say, it is my ministry. I want to be an example of the joy and satisfaction that comes from doing purposeful work – using my strengths, serving others, and delivering value to my colleagues and to my clients.
Speak for Me…
When you put this all together, it is my leadership stand. I want to leave a legacy of being a powerful, purposeful leader – in my personal and professional life. My passion is helping women to achieve their greatest potential and to make their dreams a reality – all while ‘holding on to themselves in the process.’ I don’t have a list of leadership competencies. I ascribe to authentic leadership, which is made up of the unique gifts and talents of each individual. One of my foundational leadership tenets is that ‘great leaders know what tool to use when.’ That means we know how to be hard and soft; we know how to be loud and quiet; we know how to be firm and compassionate. I want to leave a legacy of thoughtful, insightful, provocative leadership – as a model and as someone who goes the extra mile to serve others.
And I leave you with this last thought:
In absence of a plan, create one.
In absence of a leader be one,
Make all mistakes at full speed and don’t make the same one twice.