07/10/2013 11:19 am ET Updated Sep 09, 2013

Finding My Inspiration

As I read through the recap of The Third Metric conference and all the posts from extremely bright and capable contributors on the topic, I pondered my own inspirations in life and my desire for balance. I've been inspired by many and hope in turn that I've inspired some, but when it comes to success, my journey was mapped through the societal motivations of financial wealth and professional stature. In seeking balance, I weigh inspiration against motivation.

Our measurement of success, like many other life goals and aspirations, are passed along as part of our socialization in life. For some, the clear answer to the question "What are you going to be when you grow up?" arrives at a very early age, and is simply aligned to an iconic image that mesmerizes us with its bright, shiny presence, be it teacher, astronaut, fireman, doctor, ballerina or other symbol that garners our attention and works as that catalyst for the path to success. And when you reach high school and the competitive pressure of being at the top percentiles of academic achievement, intramural participation and community service all converge. Your post-graduate options get defined by institutions of higher learning and statistical data that chart out your post-graduation options for job availability and compensation ranges per the degree you've yet to earn.

With the good fortune of actually landing a job remotely close to what you thought you wanted to be growing up, you are immediately made aware of the career track and expected trajectory of someone "like you." The "like you" references any diversity that can be assigned to you -- that individual now absorbed into the mainstream. And so it begins. You get caught up in trying to balance motivation versus inspiration to achieve the dream life.

In my opinion, motivation connects you to a motive and that could be good and bad. I've had leaders who motivate through positive reinforcement and others through negative reinforcement. Depending on the circumstances, both can be effective in driving desired results. Inspiration is spiritual to me. And you can define spiritual in any context you desire. For me, spiritual touches my soul. I actually feel something deep within that causes me to react, to take pause, to want to respond. I also believe that inspirational affirmations are meant to reach you on a personal level and build on what's positive and good within you. It's not a collective goal, but an individual purpose that awakens inside and through this evolution; you can go forward and inspire others.

I've found my inspiration in other women. Some of them have passed through and others have become a part of my life, either professionally or personally. Sometimes, just a brief conversation or comment can cause you to stop and consider your life, right there in that moment. I've had those moments when someone I've never met pays me a compliment or sees my strength and my soul warms. I've tried to be a catalyst for that type of spontaneous inspiration, responding to things I observe in everyday happenings.

I've found my inspiration in my strong female lineage that started as field hands and domestic workers and who went on to be emancipated heads of households. Often, it is that nurturing facet of a woman that shines through and that we embrace, as we are always eternal children in life. And the mother in me fuses with the influence from my mother and from all my motherly archetypes to move forward and to make a difference somewhere, somehow.

I've found my inspiration in my sister-friends. It is these women who have shared my pain, my disappointment, my need for answers or to resolve the issues. They have shared in my joy, my wins, my uniqueness and my dreams. I hope that I have provided through my friendship, the same sustainable proverbial vision board for them to toss things at. These are uplifting relationships that again, warm my soul and propel me to ascend in life.

I've found my inspiration in the women who are leading today. I'm proud of those women who are leaning in and opening the seats at the table for more diverse participants. I pause for those who tackle the hard conversations and open the dialog for others to contribute -- the Third Metric being a prime example. I am anxious to learn from those who have achieved a sense of balance in life and are satisfied with what balance brings. As a single mother of a college sophomore, I am much attuned to the finding balance now versus later. It's a journey that I am inspired to continue to pursue.