HRD talks leadership, motivation and the challenges of balancing motherhood and a career
Athlete, Humanitarian and Motivational Speaker Turia Pitt is one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming National HR Summit in Sydney. Pitt was competing in an ultramarathon in 2001, when she was caught in a grassfire. Having suffered burns to 65% of her body, Pitt is an inspiring reminder to never give up.
Here, HRD talks to Pitt about leadership, motivation and the challenges of balancing motherhood and a career.
HRD: How did you stay motivated and positive in the face of adversity?
We all face challenges in our life. Each and every one of us are going face times that are stressful and hard. But where focus goes, energy flows. I don’t want to be focusing on the negatives all the time.
In hospital and recovery, when it seemed like every day was just a living reminder of all the things I couldn’t do anymore, I focused on what I did have and what I could do, not what I didn’t have and what I couldn’t do.
Every night in hospital, I would make a mental list of everything I had going for me. I’d say to myself “you’re tough, you’re gritty, you have determination, you’ve got the best partner in the world, you have the support of some amazing people”.
Every day I made the decision to focus on the positives. And day by day, that act of positive reinforcement helped shift my mindset to one that could take on anything.
This isn’t blindly sticking your head in the sand, or walking through life with a fake, cheery attitude. It’s about choosing where to invest yourself.
The choice is up to you. Will you walk through today thinking about everything going wrong in your life? Or will you focus on all the stuff going right for you? I know which choice I’ll make.
HRD: What do you think that HR leaders can learn from your experience?
That when you have the right mindset, anything is possible. Getting through challenges at work or in your personal life, reaching for big goals, your confidence and approach to life - it’s all impacted by your mindset.
HRD: What do you think makes a great leader?
I think people of all strengths and personalities can become great leaders. But in my book, a great leader is someone not afraid to be vulnerable, someone who sets big goals for their team, and also trusts and empowers their team to rise up to that goal.
In my business, I try to operate by the idea that if you’re the smartest person at the table, you’re doing something wrong.
I know that, realistically, I can’t be the expert at everything in my business, so I bring on people who help me achieve my business goals. A great leader knows that nothing great can be achieved alone.
HRD: Congratulations on your son’s recent first birthday! What advice do you have for female business leaders who are balancing motherhood and careers?
I think for all parents, part of it is just accepting that it’s going be a major juggling act, and that it’s not always going to feel good. It’s hard - and I’ve been really lucky. I have a really good support network around me, and I know that’s something that not all Mums have access to.
But one of the biggest adjustments for me has been accepting that I can’t do everything on my ‘To Do List’ anymore. Instead of setting out to achieve ten things each day, I’ve found that I can only aim to achieve three. Maximum three. If I can achieve just one thing from that list, I feel like the day has been a win. More on this here: https://www.turiapitt.com/2018/03/01/productivity-hack/
There’s also a really simple language switch that’s helped shift my mindset when it comes to parenting and business: https://www.turiapitt.com/2018/03/22/parenting-advice/
HRD: Why do you think that events like the National HR Summit are so important?
I think it’s really important to have attend events like this. We can get bogged down in the daily minutiae of our lives, so sometimes immersing yourself in a day of education and inspiration can really help reignite your passion for what you do.
And if you get to meet new people and help build your own networks that's a plus too!