Letter from the President – July 2024

by Collette Leland, Winston & Cashatt, Lawyers
EWI of Spokane Chapter President

I’ve been listening to a series called “Time Management for Mortals” by Oliver Burkeman. I’m an easy target for anything that has “time management” in the title, but this series is different. It is not a tutorial on somehow squeezing more things into 24-hour blocks. It is about accepting our limitations. (He actually has a session called “The Joy of Missing Out.” I’m sorry, what?)

In his talk on distraction, Burkeman tells us: “Our attention isn’t just one of the tools we use to live our lives, but in some sense, attention is your life. That your experience of being alive consists of nothing other than the sum of everything to which you pay attention.” When life is so very busy and my attention is so scattered, the reality that what I pay attention to is what makes up my life is a sobering thought. But it is not a new one.

As Ferris Bueller wisely counseled us:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

This week, I had the luxury of choosing where my attention would go. Our youngest daughter and our 13-month-old grandson were here for a visit. As I shifted my attention to young Thomas, I experienced the joy of learning new skills and living in the moment in a very literal sense. I marveled at the patience of our daughter as she sang song after song to keep Thomas happy in his car seat. I felt the thrill of Thomas threading a dowel through a colored wooden disc for the very first time. I laughed with my husband as we performed “silly dances” for Thomas, who is practicing for the next family dance party. I paid attention.

I am grateful that Thomas’ momma is very intentional about building and maintaining relationships— traveling to Idaho and Texas and Washington to make sure that Thomas understands that relationships require our attention.

When we met as a Chapter in June, Jane Larson shared with us a snippet from a story in the Journal of Business about the importance of relationship building for professional women—that women especially require relationships to thrive. In his latest book, Jonathan Haidt talks about how this trait makes girls more susceptible to the peer pressure and bullying that can occur on social media. Our need for relationship is our superpower, but also our kryptonite.

I am grateful that EWI—like my amazing stepdaughter—is intentional about building and maintaining the kinds of relationships that allow us to thrive. It’s right there in our vision statement:

To enhance professional growth and development within a diverse group of women [and men] while empowering them to make a difference as they inspire others.

No kryptonite here. EWI has a vision of a group of professionals empowering each other to make the world a better place. There’s more. Check out our mission statement:

Executive Women International (EWI) brings together key individuals form diverse businesses for the purpose of promoting member firms, enhancing personal and professional development, and encouraging community involvement.

What are our values? Integrity. Excellence. Respect. Collaboration. And of course, it’s in our core tenets: Careers. Connections. Community.

Upon reflection, that first tenet—Careers—is relational, as well. I know very few people who can succeed and thrive in their professions without the mentoring, support, and camaraderie that only comes through relationships. It can be no surprise that for most of us, relationships are the primary reason we are part of EWI.

So, this month, I’m encouraging you to stop and look around; direct your attention to building those relationships. Our July Chapter Meeting will be hosted by our past presidents. The funds they raise will be used to send one representative to the Leadership Conference and Annual Meeting (LCAM) in Tucson. Take time to congratulate this year’s winner and to thank our past presidents for the work they do each year to make our vision statement a reality.

Our Nominating Committee will be announcing the slate of officers and directors for the 2024-25 Board of Directors. Although our election is not until our August meeting, it is not too soon to congratulate these folks and thank them for their willingness to devote more of their attention to EWI next year.

Also at our July meeting, our current directors and committee chairs will be inviting all of you to consider joining a committee. These committees are the engine of EWI, and also our relationship incubator. This is where we hone our relationship superpowers.

Life does move pretty fast. We each have a limited amount of attention that we can give each day. I’m grateful for each of you who has made the decision to devote some of that attention to building relationships within our EWI community. I’m looking forward to seeing you all next month.