Spring this year is like that confident friend who always shows up late to the party in the perfect dress and automatically takes control of the room. Part of you envies her beauty, another part wishes you could be more like her, but most of all you are just happy she’s finally arrived. Last weekend my husband and I packed up and left a cold and bare Missouri for a quick road trip only to return to warm breezes and spring in full bloom. It just goes to show you should never underestimate a late bloomer.

I often think of myself as a late bloomer. As a young woman whenever I felt in a rut or that life was “happening” too slow my Mother would tell me time and again to just enjoy the season I was in and to not rush time. My competitive spirit made it pure torture when in my mind someone passed over me in their own quest to perfection. I was fighting my own struggle with what was enough and how fast I had to get there, but over the years I’ve realized that although my way may be longer, I will still arrive at the desired destination. With that knowledge I’ve found a joy in celebrating other’s accomplishments even when they are miles ahead and years behind me in the journey.

Leadership is about ability and inspiration, not age. This is definitely why I am drawn to Women’s Network. Every day I’m surrounded by Women who run circles around me. You juggle work and school, marriage and parenting, philanthropy and little league all with a smile on your face and joy in your heart. You learn from your environments, make connections and listen to one another. When someone is having a bad day you lift them up and when you are having a bad day you show up and lead by example.

Young, seasoned, or in between we all seek a common goal of surrounding ourselves with those who will inspire, challenge and make us into our best self. We connect, empower and engage. As my time as Chair is winding down I am reminiscing about the friendships, laughter and lessons I’ve learned this year. I feel a great need to take every chance I get to thank our Steering Committee, the strong leaders committed to our mission. Our Co-chairs and committees who through creativity and hard work make it all happen. To Erica Pefferman and Nancy Allison who surrounded me with wisdom as the Past Chair and Chair Elect. To Brandi our witty and wise Director, who showed up just when we needed her and keeps me pointed in the right direction. To the entire Chamber staff who is always eager to lend a helping hand, and to each of you who encouraged me in some way, big or small, through your phone calls, hand written notes, emails, hugs and smiles from the other side of the stage as I stumble through my script.

As I end this May letter I’m thankful for every leader who walked before me on this journey and planted a seed and for each of you who has been harvested to keep leading this organization. So to everyone: be not afraid of growing slowly… be afraid only of standing still, for a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Keep Blooming,

Michele Batye
michele@carpetandtile.com