My fellowship will officially end next month and I will become an alumna of the Atlas Corps. I wanted to share what I learned through my fellowship with my fellow fellows! Before I start telling my story, I want to thank Atlas Corps, Asan Nanum Foundation, Net Impact and San Francisco Department on the Status of Women for designing this amazing fellowship program and giving me this great opportunity, and most importantly, the support and encouragement which they have provided. They have empowered me to become stronger and to take a proactive role in my life. I now know who I am, what my values are, and what my future can become.
Through my fellowship, I’ve had great opportunities to grow as individual. I’ve met incredible colleagues and formed lifetime friendships with my fellow fellows. But most importantly I’ve learned how to lead each and every day. I’m going to share three tips I’ve gained for last 18 months. Fail once a day, follow your heart and be your best friend!
First, fail once a day. We’re all afraid to fail. When I was a little ballerina, my teacher always told me “Julie, don’t be scared to fall down. Through this, you can gain the strength to stand up!” At that time I couldn’t understand what she was talking about because I only felt shame when I fell down. I just wanted to gracefully stand on my toes in front of my mom and classmates without any failures. Like this, throughout my life, failure would make me feel shame or give me a terrible feeling. However through my fellowship, I’ve realized that I can improve myself when I’m trying to overcome a difficult situation. My supervisor and colleagues didn’t limit me due to me not being accustomed to the American business culture, which could have resulted in me making mistakes; rather they encouraged and supported me to take on new challenges. Though this experience, I now know I can take-on new challenges without any hesitance and I shouldn’t be scared to fall down and fail!
Second, follow your heart. Steve Jobs gave a commencement speech shortly after he was declared cancer free in 2005. He told the students: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Before I came to the U.S., I attended to good school because my parents and mentors wanted me to so I could became a female leader that would enhance gender equality. Like this, I used to listen to what others wanted, but I didn’t listen to what I wanted. Fortunately, incredible friends and colleagues I’ve met during my fellowship challenged me in everything I do. I now always ask myself, what is my heart telling me? Now, my compass is oriented toward my heart instead of beliefs and desires of others.
Third, Be your best friend. I’m only child. When I was growing up, most friends had their siblings. One day my dad asked me, “Do you know why you don’t have siblings?” I looked at him with my puppy eyes and said, “Because I am special.” My dad often reminds me of that moment, because I tend to forget that I am special. When I was a little girl, I was my best friend and the world was full of endless opportunities. Then as I got older, my society told me to doubt my own capabilities and I became my own worst enemy. Fortunately I’ve met the little Julie again here in US because everyone told me “I really respect your own way you’re doing things. I totally agree with what you’re thinking. I’d like to help. You are very special person to us”. These kind words and amazing people have helped me become my own best friend again and the confidence to follow my heart and take on new challenges without fear of failure.
I hope these three tips I’ve gained will help bring positive changes into our fellow fellows’ life. I found freedom in failure, to follow my heart and in being my own best friend; I’m not afraid to color outside the lines anymore. I now know I don’t have to be a president or a CEO to be a great leader. I just have to be myself. Thanks again Atlas Corps, Asan Nanum Foundation, Net Impact and San Francisco Department on the Status of Women. I wish you all the best!