Why Defining Success is Countercultural For Christian Women in the Workplace

Happy New Year! Are you working on your plans and goals for the next 12 months? “Planning” and “strategy” are two major buzzwords right now, so we wanted to share some insights and perspectives from a 4word woman who loves helping women plan around their strengths so much that she does it for a living! Melissa Peak, a seasoned management executive with more than two decades of experience leading organizations to growth and customer success, is this month’s guest on the podcast and blog and will be sharing her personal and professional tips on how to make this year the year you become unstoppable.

You can listen to this entire conversation with Melissa on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.

As a working parent, what obstacles do you currently face that have impeded you from feeling unstoppable?

What came to my mind immediately is that the biggest obstacles I faced in being unstoppable was thinking I should be unstoppable in every area and not being precise about where my time and energy and emotions and thinking are going. When I’m not intentional and simply take life as it comes without having some sort of prioritization in place, my impact is diminished and at times, I’ve come grinding to a halt.

There are moments in our lives where circumstances really hit us in a unique way. I found out through a 23andme test that my father was not my father, which was a huge identity shock to process. I had a miscarriage. I took a job that was in a very unhealthy work environment. In these and many other situations throughout my life, unstoppable became “not stepping back.” Sometimes “unstoppable” is forward movement; sometimes unstoppable is just standing strong and not getting pulled over by all of the things that are coming at you.

It’s OK for us to pause, and sometimes, you have to go backward to go forward. We need to have a lot of grace with ourselves and remember that we don’t always have to be moving forward at full steam in order to feel like we’re being unstoppable. We wouldn’t expect that from anybody else, so I don’t know why we expect that of ourselves. We are so hard on ourselves! We have to have a lot of grace with ourselves in order to truly have a body of work or a life existence that demonstrates being unstoppable.

What has been your biggest planning success?

I have some things that I do annually which I would deem successful. The first is getting to a good definition of what my unique value proposition is. What am I uniquely here to do? There are some tools and resources that can be used to get clear on your value proposition, and getting that clarity helps you understand what you shouldn’t spend time doing. The second thing I do is choose the people that are going to be around you on the journey.

For example, if you’re going to get married, choose a spouse who is in alignment with the kind of values you want to pursue. Have those conversations about where you really feel like you’re going and what energizes you. Ask your significant other how they feel about that, if they think you can we work together. Outside of your family, you must understand who’s going be with you on your journey and pick those people wisely for the coming year. There’s a saying that says we are the aggregate of the five people we spend our most time with, so choose wisely!

A third planning tactic that I use every year is one that I actually started doing several years ago, and it’s been fun. Every year, I write a letter to myself as if it was December 31 of the upcoming year. When you write the letter to yourself, congratulate yourself on accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself in the new year. After I’ve written my annual letter, I’ll pull it out at various times throughout the year just to ground myself because it’s so easy to get sucked down into the weeds. But that “big picture” laid out in my letter becomes a visioning tool to guide my activity through the year. A lot of people use vision boards (which I’ve also used in the past), but for me, reading that letter throughout the year has been the thing that has kept me most aligned with some of the big goals that I want to accomplish in strategic areas of importance.

Is there a certain method that Christian women in the workplace should be using to identify and celebrate their strengths?

Defining what success looks like as Christian women is going to be countercultural. Success for us isn’t only going to be the things that may be success for other people in our workplaces. It’s really easy to get caught up in the trap of doing the things that the rest of the crowd are doing, or following after other executive women who are pursuing titles and incomes. As Christian women, we must first understand what our unique strengths are. Ask, “What do I bring to the table that is different?” When you identify your unique strengths, understand that God made you that way on purpose, and it’s not an accident that you were born with those abilities.

Consider Michael Jordan. He was not successful in everything. He figured out where his natural talents lay, and he invested in them. For us, the more time we can spend actually using the strengths we come to the table with naturally, the better off we’re going to be and the more successful we’re going to not only feel but we’re actually going to be. Leverage your strengths instead of trying to walk on weak legs.

I’m a Clifton strengths coach, and I’ve long used Gallup Clifton’s strengths assessment for my personal career as well as in mentoring others. I really appreciate that methodology because it has context for work and gives good insight for all areas of life. My top strengths show up in every area of my life. I’m a relator and an achiever, which means I get energy from getting things done. However, discipline is in my bottom 10, so I know that, at work, I have to have people on my team who are managing our operations and the rhythm of the business. I know it needs to be there.

Tools can really help us understand what our strengths are and create goals that align with our strengths and set us up for great success. Tools can also allow us to not take anyone else’s definition of success and try to fit into it. If we’re forcing ourselves to do things that do not give us energy and that we were never really given natural talent to do, we are going to find ourselves sucked dry.

Melissa Peak, is a seasoned management executive with more than 2 decades of experience leading organizations to growth and customer success, while building an engaged workforce. Leveraging her transformational leadership style, Melissa has repeatedly built thriving teams that deliver unprecedented market penetration, customer satisfaction, and revenue results. Career highlights include delivering double-digit, top-line revenue growth; placing a Fortune 500 company on the Federal GSA Schedule; 40% of direct reports promoted into expanded roles; creation and execution of a strategic digital marketing campaign resulting in a 400% increase in social media engagement after one year.

Melissa has led business operations with teams exceeding 200 people, and managed P&L responsibility exceeding $150MM. Over her career, Melissa has engaged with hundreds of employers as a trusted advisor on key talent strategies. By delivering powerful results for these employers, Melissa has built strong relationships with a large network of CEO, CIO, CTO, COO, CHRO, Diversity and Learning Colleagues across North America, with International impact.

As a first-generation college student, Melissa is a determined advocate for those who are taking a “road less traveled.” Whether it is hosting a conference, roundtable, one on one coaching or serving as a connector for the determine, yet un-equipped, Melissa has opened doors of opportunity for thousands of individuals. Melissa is proud to have been named a “2020 Top Woman to Watch” by Diversity Journal Magazine. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Women Business Collaborative, and an Advisory Board member for Working Nation.

Melissa resides in Goshen, KY with her husband Michael and their five children. She earned her Executive Certificate in Strategy and Innovation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan’s School of Business, an MBA from the John Sperling School of Business at University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Science in Literature from Indiana Wesleyan University.

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