Lessons Learned from the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

Posted December 5, 2018 in Latest News & Insights

by Glain Roberts-McCabe

On November 21st, I found myself on stage accepting the top award in the Micro Business category at the Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards sponsored by RBC and Women of Influence. The experience was a truly surreal moment, yet one that I had been envisioning since I launched my business back in 2007. The lead up to the awards night was anything but easy, though. Here’s what I learned about what life is like when your dreams come true.


Just when you think you know yourself…

In my experience, leadership (well, let’s face it, life) is an ongoing journey of learning more about yourself and understanding yourself at a deeper level. Every experience we have gives us an opportunity to get better self-insight. One of the things I’ve known about myself for a while, but has become abundantly clearer to me over the past 5 years, is the drive I have to ‘win.’

If you had asked me years ago if I was ‘competitive’, I would have struggled with saying ‘yes.’ I would have said that I’m competitive on things that matter to me but there’s lots of things that I don’t need to ‘win’ on. As I’ve explored this idea of winning over the past 5 years, I’ve been surprised at just how much my drive to win comes to the forefront.

You realize that knowing yourself is different than understanding yourself…

So, when I first heard that I’d been shortlisted for the RBC Awards pending an audit by KPMG to make sure I wasn’t pulling numbers and strategy out of the air, I was shocked but excited. When the official announcement came that I was the finalist for the Central region, my feelings immediately switched over to feelings of dread.

I started to obsess over whether or not I was going to ‘win’. I looked at my ‘competition’. I gauged the interactions on social media… were their announcements getting more ‘likes’ than mine? How would I feel if I don’t win? What would my clients and Roundtable community think if I’m a ‘loser’?

The day I went to shoot my finalist video for the awards evening should have been a joyful experience. Instead, I felt anxious and tense. I wanted to do a great job but felt a frenetic energy that was pushing me out of my zone of happiness. I was spending all my time thinking about positioning myself and none of my time enjoying the experience.

And then there’s turning point…

As I shared my disappointment with my husband and daughter about how I perceived my video shoot to have gone, I talked about how I felt the other women in my category were going to ‘kick my ass’. I said it as a joke, but usually jokes are windows into truth.

My husband, who is very wise, said ‘what meaning are you attaching to losing?’

I realized that I had created a story in my head that went something like this:

  • they made a mistake selecting you as a finalist… it must have been really light competition this year (this despite me knowing that they had over 7,400 nominations)
  • the only reason you got shortlisted is the person you hired to write your submission knew how to position things (this despite the fact that I did the work that they were able to ‘position’)
  • you’re bringing your team, clients and friends to the event. If you lose, they’re going to think that you’re a loser and that The Roundtable is a big fake (this despite the fact that you are one of three people across Canada who made the cut and have a 10-year track record of happy clients)

Learning the art of letting go…

I always think when you can see something clearly you can then choose how you want to move forward. I realized that by putting all my energy into what was going to happen that night, I was completely missing out on the opportunity to enjoy the journey. That insight changed everything.

The day of the awards, I was the first to arrive. I met my fellow nominees who were all impressive, incredible women. I felt relaxed and genuinely grateful for just being there.

As my guests began to arrive, people began asking if I was nervous. The answer was a definite ‘no’. I was thrilled that all of the people I had invited were able to attend. They represented an awesome cross-section of early supporters, long-time clients, close friends and champions. I could have easily filled 10 tables with the people I would have loved to have there that night and for that, I was so grateful.

As we were waiting in the reception area, I thought about how happy I was to be there and share this milestone with everyone. One of my fellow nominees came up to us just before we went in. I said to her ‘I really hope you win this award. The work you’re doing is incredible.’ And I meant it. I had let go of the outcome.

Of course, you may read this and think: well it’s easy for you to say this now because you won.

I’ve thought about that. The truth is that winning is sweet but when I look at the women who weren’t the finalists in their categories, I see women who won. They have all accomplished incredible things. They are all making our world better in amazing ways. Where they ultimately landed in the judges’ ranking is less important than the amazing work they have done.

When winning is losing, it’s time for a shift…

A high drive to win is a quality that can bring lots of positives, but when that drive to win makes it hard for you to enjoy the journey you’re on, that’s a loss.

Not everyone struggles with a high winning drive, but if you’re like me and you find yourself having a hard time enjoying a process or getting past disappointments, ruminating on things that didn’t go the way you wanted, or worrying about ‘losing’, the practice of reframing the outcome and repositioning what is ‘winning’ in your mind is a useful exercise to keep practicing. Staying focused on what I’m experiencing in the moment is something that I continue to practice so that my energy stays where it should be. It’s not easy to turn off energy that drives you, but being intentional about how you want to feel is a good first step.

Happy leading!

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