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Giving New Meaning to How Women Can Climb Their Way to the Top

By: Claudia Chan

As many entrepreneurs can attest, sometimes your business can take over your whole world. One of the biggest goals for my own business is planning S.H.E. Summit Week — a week of women-led events culminating in a transformational leadership and lifestyle conference for women on June 14 and 15.

In February, I woke in the middle of the night panicking about S.H.E. Summit for three consecutive weeks.

In April, my husband had an intervention with me because I was talking about S.H.E. Summit morning, noon and night. I talked about it over dinner with friends, during chats with local shopkeepers and even with our mail woman. I was out of control and he was losing his mind.

Then it hit me. I had become completely OBSESSED with this event. Given the fact that I’m a self-funded entrepreneur pursuing a massive undertaking with limited resources and a very small team, this isn’t difficult to understand. But I knew there was a deeper reason behind my reaction, so I started questioning WHY S.H.E. Summit had taken control of me this way.

The answer is very personal.

Since I got married last September, many friends who know my age (full disclosure: I turned 38 in April) have asked me, “Do you want kids? Because NO time is a good time, so you should just start trying.” Every time I answer with a gut response, “Oh absolutely, I want three kids… but I’ll start thinking about that after June 16 when S.H.E. Summit is over.”

I started ClaudiaChan.com and launched the annual S.H.E. Summit to celebrate and inspire women in leadership and lifestyle. In recent months, S.H.E. Summit has taken on a much deeper meaning — it has metaphorically become my own personal mountain to conquer, my own personal #SHESummit. Climbing toward a huge achievement that will have a positive impact, on all women and myself, is exciting. But it’s also more difficult than I ever imagined. The success of S.H.E. Summit is critical to the long-term viability of the business that I have risked so much for (from finances to fertility!). As a result, it’s success has become inextricably linked to my own self-worth and self-image.

The sooner this event is “successful:”

  • The sooner I can justify the risk of starting this business when I could have taken a more secure path;
  • The sooner I can confirm to my mother that I made the right decision to leave my last company and start from scratch;
  • The sooner I can justify to myself that my purpose of empowering women is more important than having conventional security;
  • The sooner I will have more time to spend with my 83-year-old father and thereby feel less guilty for prioritizing my “too busy schedule” over seeing him;
  • And the sooner I can justify putting off having children!

Sharing this with you is scary, but it is also cathartic. Moreover, it’s core to what June’s S.H.E. Summit is all about. It’s an event designed to ignite women to reach for new, bold heights –while also encouraging us to celebrate our successes (what we ARE getting done) more. I continue to build this business because I believe women deserve to FEEL amazing about themselves more often. And the more we can convene to share our stories (and struggles — which if we’re honest, come from the criticism and judgment we inflict upon ourselves), the easier and more transformative the climb up will be.

EVERY WOMAN on my team, along with the women we know, has climbed or is climbing her own #SHESummit. Whether it’s building a business, becoming a parent, triumphing over adversity, doing a mix of all three, or simply conquering the weekly to-do list, we all have goals upon which we’re hanging the next phase of our lives. We often say to ourselves, “If I can only achieve ‘X,’ everything else will be amazing!” The challenge is great, but we need to be kind to ourselves in the process. It’s not getting to the top of the mountain that’s the win, it’s the journey that is the win.

Sisterhood can be very powerful. So, from now through June 16, as we share more about the Remarkable Women who will speak at S.H.E. Summit, I invite you to share your own personal #SHESummit stories, or those of others who have inspired you, with our community. No matter how big, or small, I would love to hear from you. Tell your #SHESummit story — the trials and triumphs that are dominating your life right now — and share it with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SHESummit. Together, we’ll create a conversation about the incredible things we as women are doing every day and encourage each other to keep climbing towards our goals.

For more by Claudia Chan, click here.

For more about S.H.E. Summit, click here.

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