At 24, Helena Paschal came to an important recognition. She earned a Master’s Degree and had a “good job” but she was not fulfilled.
“So, I did what we are not supposed to do as women especially as black women, I quit!”
What she discovered in the time of quitting was that it wasn’t making money that motivated her, it was making progress that fueled her. Her job became routine and she wanted to start a business doing something that would serve as a catalyst for constant progress while helping others.
She enjoyed public speaking and was the youngest in her class to earn a National Training Certification. As a rising leader in the professional development industry, she planned her own workshops and seminars throughout the nation to shape the lives of thousands of professionals.
When asked to share professional development advice, she shares these three insights to women:
1. Hard work is not the key to success. One of my first jobs was as an Executive Assistant. While other assistants would arrive to work in the nick of time, I would arrive to work an hour early to confirm and print out the schedule for my boss and his direct reports. I would change his voicemail to have the current date and I would have lunch suggestions ready along with any upcoming travel itinerary printed on his desk. I didn’t make coffee, but I would often join the men in the break room for coffee, go out with them for lunch, happy hours, and golfing tournaments. A year later during my performance review, I earned a promotion into Operations Management with a $10,000 increase plus commissions. When I looked at the other busy assistants and employees that rarely left their desks, I found that the hardest working people were stressed out and making the least amount of money. It was the people that were the most visible in the company that were landing the promotions and increases. Arriving to work early with a jumpstart on my day and a positive attitude proved to be more beneficial than stressing out about working hard. For clarification, I did an exceptional job at work, but I made sure I was visible to the decision makers.
2. You define your own success. My family never said the word success. I heard that you go to school, get a job, get married, and have a family. The goal was to have a family. I learned about the word success on my own through books such as, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. In that book, it wasn’t about money to me, it was about communication. So, at the age of 10, I made a commitment to master communication because I didn’t realize we were poor when I was a kid, but I did know that our family had poor communication. We never talked about the dysfunctions of domestic abuse, adultery, and being fatherless children although our fathers only lived miles away. I was raised to believe that I couldn’t talk about the things that didn’t feel right to me because they were considered normal. I earned my Masters in Communication and did some self-exploration to define success on my terms and I redefined what a normal life should look like for me.
3. Your value is found in what you honor. “What is important to you?’ That’s the question that led to a turning point in my life. My cookie cutter response was God, Family, and Career. But the reality is progress is what’s important to me. My relationship with God, Family, and Career grow deeper and stronger because of the value I put into improving myself daily, they are the byproduct of my personal progress. Knowing this, I refuse to accept doing anything that doesn’t allow me to make progress. Defining your value by what matters to you makes it easier to make future decisions.