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“Growth & comfort do not coexist.” – Virginia Rometty

by Karen Jackson  | 2 Comments

Kudos to Ginni Rometty on her selection as CEO of IBM, and to the Board of Directors at IBM for having the chutzpah to put a woman at the corporate helm. We’ve come a long way baby when the CEO of Big Blue is female.

But this isn’t a blog about the glass ceiling, or the paltry representation of women in CEO roles of the Fortune 500. That’s a whole different conversation. It’s instead a reminder that risk is essential for growth. The press around Rometty’s selection has provided those of us outside of IBM to see what kind of a big thinker she is. And it’s clear by studying her career path at IBM, starting as a systems engineer in 1981, that she didn’t get to the CEO spot by being afraid. Take time for this terrific YouTube of Rometty at a women’s business conference. While directed to a female audience, her insights are useful for anyone who finds they hold themselves back from opportunity for fear of failure. Among her pearls of wisdom: “You have to be very confident, even though you’re so self-critical inside about what it is you may or may not know.”

What’s interesting in the workplace is how many women believe they must be perfect in their current role before taking the next step. The problem is, perfect is virtually unattainable, and the quest for it rather unsatisfying in the end, primarily because the incremental gains are insignificant and because no one else cares. Colleagues and bosses, suppliers and customers, they all care about excellence, accountability, integrity – not perfection. The truth is, life is one big learn-it-on-the-job experience, and those who silence their inner fears shape for themselves a life that is fresh, rich and full of possibilities. So get in the game instead of watching from the bleachers. As Rometty reminds us, “growth and comfort do not exist.”

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2 Comments to “Growth & comfort do not coexist.” – Virginia Rometty

  1. Melanie Lebot
    November 5, 2011 11:18 am

    Many thanks for this articulate analysis. With a woman as IBM’s new CEO, one may hope that the traditionally “feminin” concerns for life, growth and balance may begin to take root in an economic wasteland where the emphasis on short term profit has often eclipsed vision and integrity. An obvious paradox is that the anxiety generated in the quest for perfection sabotages the spontaneous flow of creative energy necessary for the attainment of excellence. Humility and human share more than a syllable; in ancient Persia, a tiny defect was intentionally woven into each magnificent carpet as a reminder that only God is perfect.

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