“I truly believe that when women connect with each other — across all our differences and unique perspectives—we effect change on a major scale.”
Kelly McNelis knows what she’s talking about! As the founder of Women For One, an online community of women who share their stories to discover their own voice, and author of Your Messy Brilliance, she bases her life around giving women their own voice and helping them feel as powerful as they truly are.
WHAT LED YOU TO FOUND WOMEN FOR ONE?
My life’s work has been about discovering my own voice and creating a community for women to experience that same kind of sisterhood.
After experiencing a dysfunctional life (like we all have) including sexual abuse, divorce, as well as the death of a dear friend, and blending a family of eight, I realized that I wanted to give back to the world from the lessons which I had learned. I also wanted to create a global tribe of like-minded women who could learn from each other and accordingly share their own life lessons.
As the founder of Women For One, I create a space for women to get their voice out into the world. It is my hope that, in continuing to share women’s voices, Women For One will encourage all people to take a stand on the issues that most impact our lives, while building a supportive community.
HOW CAN WE BE MORE INTENTIONAL ABOUT SUPPORTING OTHER WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE?
We need to acknowledge women’s contributions and support them into moving into their power. We can do this by holding them accountable for living up to their potential; when we choose to acknowledge women’s power and to say “I know what you are capable of,” this has the power to transform the way they see themselves and how they operate in the world. This is why we can’t make “excuses” for each other; we must hold each other to a high standard that allows us to respect each other’s individual gifts and contributions, and to seek more from ourselves and each other. In practice, this can be as simple as making a point to reiterate something else a female team member has said to help elevate her voice if it is not being heard, which can boost her confidence and show her that her contribution is making a difference. We can also tune into who is doing most of the talking (and the most taking of credit!) and assess whether or not things are off balance.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BOOK!
Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman overturns one of the most harmful myths in our culture: that there is a recipe for perfection. In truth, our lives are messy, and that’s a good thing! With a combination of personal experience, relatable stories from everyday women, and practical wisdom, this engaging, customizable road map to the authentic you will guide you into the most important journey you will ever take: the journey back home to your messy brilliance!
This book emerges from my own personal journey. Fifteen years ago, I realized that I was denying my needs in order to be seen as fully lovable. I began to slowly but surely wake up and get curious about my desires, which had taken a backseat in my attempt to cultivate the perfect life. I asked myself who I really wanted to be and what I was truly willing to settle for. I listened to the quiet voice within me that said, “You can start over—it’s not too late.”
So start over I did. I was curious to see what I was really made of. It wasn’t easy, but I persevered. I took a deep and detailed inventory. I carefully examined the ways in which I had been emotionally, mentally, and physically shaped by all the circumstances of my life. I dug into my own story about my past and current situation. I didn’t yet realize it, but I was beginning to seek and find the tools that I would later share with my global community and that I’ve written about in this book.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Women For One is one of the only communities I’ve experienced where all women, no matter their race/class/nationality/political leanings, are represented and welcomed with open arms. It makes for a beautifully diverse community to navigate—you can be sure you’ll find at least one other person who’s been through similar experiences, but you’ll also have the opportunity to meet and connect with women from vastly different backgrounds and perspectives.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE A PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE?
Achieving a work/life balance is a constant struggle for women, particularly those of us who are navigating a number of roles in our lives. Let’s face it, most women have more than one full-time job: businesswoman, mom, partner, friend, etc. Achieving balance will always look different for each of us, but I can tell you what I’ve done. Tapping into clarity and choice has been key for me.
First, I begin by stepping back and looking at the big picture and to get really clear about my priorities. I then make powerful choices that support both my personal life and my business. It’s all about remembering that we can’t be everything to everyone, and we are most effective when we engage in activities that nourish rather than deplete us. When we get clear about what we want, we are then able to trust our gut about the people, projects, and opportunities that come our way. We can’t be balanced unless we know exactly when to say “yes” and “no.”
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
Check your gut, always. This isn’t about simply trusting the intuitive “hits” you get—it’s also about connecting that trust to the information that’s at your disposal. Put those things together to make meaningful decisions. I think that gut feeling comes from personal discernment, and a lot of us don’t take the time to cultivate it when things like business opportunities are flying at us. Take the time to get clear on what you believe and always check your bullshit detector; don’t simply take someone else’s words or beliefs at face value.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?
Leap and the net will appear. (a Zen proverb)