In 2012, Ellen Lapham, Carol Muller, and Kathy Richardson set out to memorialize the spirit of inspiration that their close friend Anita Borg brought to their lives. The original project, a community blog known as Anita’s Quilt, showcased the array of people whose lives Anita influenced and energized. This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Systers—the online community that Anita Borg founded to support women in tech—by republishing some of our favorite Anita’s Quilt stories..
A version of this post was published on Anita’s Quilt on April 24, 2014.
A Note to My Younger Self
Congratulations on your first day at IBM—you made the right decision! Today you’ve started an incredible journey that will carry you through many challenges, much hard work, and a great deal of fun. Your career will take you literally around the world, and you will meet so many different people and make fabulous friends along the way. You will learn so much about business and driving performance, and you will get tremendous satisfaction from teaching others how to do the same.
Your life ahead will have many exciting chapters, and you will have so many roles to balance along the way. You’re already a daughter, a sister, and now an employee, but soon you will become a wife, a mother, and a leader. You will sometimes feel like you’re torn in different directions, and wonder how you will get it all done and meet all the demands before you. I want to let you know that it will be alright, and you will find a way. Believe it or not, in time, others will look to you for guidance and—with wonder in their eyes—ask you how they can do it, too.
The most important thing I want you to know is that the path you chose is the right one. You will doubt yourself, and lose your confidence, but I want you to know there is no need to worry. You already have tenacity and determination—which will never leave you. You’re a great listener, and that ability and desire to always find a win/win in every situation will serve you very well. Always remember the advice Dad gave you about being a manager: The best way to influence others to do what you need them to is to show them why, in a positive way, so that they actually want to do what’s needed.
Your journey as working parent will make you a balanced and fair leader. There will be times where you feel the road ahead is impossible. People will actually ask you, to your face, “how can you be a good mother if you work?” At work, they’ll ask, truly curious, “Where are your kids today?” as though you might have forgotten them. But, amazingly, you’ll find a way to attend every important event and be there for each important moment. They’ll eventually invent these things called Thinkpads and Blackberrys; it will amaze you what you can get done on the sidelines of a soccer field!
You have a terrific career in front of you. Don’t worry that you don’t know enough to lead. You’ve always wanted to learn and understand the hows and whys of things, and this will get you through. Trust in yourself, and trust in your teams. You’ve got what it takes, and the secret is to believe it.
Enjoy your life and all it brings,
Do you have a story of persistence that honors Anita’s legacy? Share it with us for a chance to be featured here.