Living Passion Forward: How Amy Mifflin Lives Her Passion

Editor's Note: Ms. JD's Annual Conference, Passion Forward, will take place February 21st-22nd in Austin, Texas.  In the months before the conference, we are pleased to be bringing you posts from our conference speakers.  To learn more about Passion Forward or to register for the conference yourself, click here.  We look forward to seeing you in Austin!

My Top Five Passions Are:

Mentoring & Coaching Young Women: I felt so fortunate during the journey of my career in the early years that inspirational people were there to help me, guide me and present me with opportunities – even at times when I doubted I had the talent. I have never forgotten what that meant to me and how it shaped who I am today…therefore, I pass it on with enthusiasm and lots of energy every chance I get!

Bringing Stakeholders Together for the First Time to Collaborate: There is nothing more thrilling in my profession than bringing stakeholders (even unlikely stakeholders) together who have different agendas, different passions, and different ways of getting the job done and watching what amazing things can take place with the right guidance and leadership! It’s a thrilling experience and ride!

Random Acts of Kindness: Unfortunately, our collective world spends more time focused on ‘me’ versus ‘we’ and I am sure I am just as guilty at times.  However, I try to focus on delivering ‘random acts of kindness’ no matter what part of the world I am living or working. All it may take is a smile, a kind word, or simply allowing someone seemingly in a hurry go ahead of you in line. With over 6 billion people populating our planet (and growing), imagine how wonderful everyday interactions would be if just 1 billion random acts of kindness took place monthly across the planet? Now that would be something worth reading and smiling about!

My Sisters and their Children: Being the oldest girl in the family and having three younger sisters, I could not wait for us to grow up and become the best-of-friends! There’s not a day or moment we don’t share our joys, fears, sorrows, ups and downs and all the things in between.  If it was not for their love, incredible support and sense of humor, I truly would be lost. Although not having any children of my own, I do believe it takes a ‘village’ to raise a child.  I feel fortunate to be the ‘inspirational Aunt’ in their daily lives and a helping hand (or voice of reason) to my sisters when they need it!

Building a Better Tomorrow in Some of the Most Unlikeliest of Places: I have had the fortunate privilege of working around the world, sometimes in ‘parts rather unknown’.  These experiences create character, help you truly understand your strengths and weaknesses, and certainly test your resolve.  No matter the location and the starting point, universally people what the same things out of life (most we take for granted) – safe water and access to food, to love and be loved, respected for who they are, what they believe and their livelihoods, as well as experiencing happiness and joy, and even the ability to read, write and send their children to school. I took the roles I held in my profession very seriously everyday and strived to make a genuine difference when and where I could. I also made sure that it was what my stakeholders thought was of greatest value for them – then, and only then, did true collaboration and excitement create the best results. 

To me, Passion Forward means ….

Being authentic – which I believe creates passion and energy from within inspiring someone to do incredible things. Many times when working with young women and professionals, they struggle to find their ‘true passion’ in life. Sure we have many things we can get passionate about – but is it ‘my true passion’? In our early years we may spend too much time pleasing others or becoming what others want us to become only to think we have arrived at discovering our passion.  But once you are focused on you and the minute you do find your ‘authentic self’ your passion will be bursting out of you – I tend to think you are now throwing ‘your passion forward’ for others to experience, relate to and be inspired by!

I try to live my life passion forward by….

I try to live my life passion forward by always being authentic, never forgetting that I grew up disadvantaged and was surrounded by people who believed in me, and never, ever sacrifice my integrity. There’s not much you can do about yesterday, except learn from it, and there’s not much you can do about today, as you are in the midst of experiencing it. But I do believe you can live passion forward by striving to be better tomorrow than you were today!

My most passion forward moment was….

I was fortunate enough to work for a major oil and gas company that believed in being ‘socially responsible’. During 2006, we suddenly found ourselves working in 11 states throughout the Southwest and West with a methamphetamine abuse problem that was literally tearing communities apart. The collateral damage to a community plagued by this horrific drug was too enormous to count, or at times, comprehend. There were so many ‘passion forward’ moments to this project that I could fill 100s of pages with the stories.  However, I was faced in the very early phases of this project with a major decision that would require me to step out as the leader both internally and externally of our company. At that time, this was an extremely controversial social dilemma of magnificent proportions, and one that most corporations tended to shy away from such a lead position. I truly began to question my sanity – but more importantly did I have what it takes to finish anything that I may get started? But I grew up with my grandmother passing down her wonderful wisdom of which she would remind me often, “if not now, when? And if not you, then who?”

When I stepped out on that cliff it felt incredibly lonely (and scary) at first, but soon everyone began to realize what an amazing difference we could make by just one small gesture – by simply providing an opportunity for awareness and education for community members, parents, grandparents, teachers, students, business professionals and so on regarding this devastating drug and open up a collective dialogue regarding its collateral damage. And engaging in messages that helped everyone understand that it was up to each of us to be a part of the solution. Although that first six months felt like I was hanging on to the back of the caboose with one hand as the train was flying down the tracks, I am proud to say after 3 ½ years, 11 states and over 50,000+ small and rural communities participating, we did do something incredible, albeit small, but rather organized and thoughtful…we brought communities together providing a platform for discussion and collaboration.

I was guided by my own passion forward moment during those early months, propelling me into the unknown. However I felt I came out the other side with more courage, depth, personal growth and awareness about our Nation’s most frightening and devastating drug – methamphetamine – which after what I witnessed was a true blight on society. And our team motto that kept us moving forward was simply this: If we only prevent one person, just one person, from ever taking this drug, even once, then the journey was all worth it. 

As a side note, I must mention that there are amazing people living in these small communities who fight this battle daily – from law enforcement agents, to mayors, to teachers and nonprofit agencies, to social services and many more.  My hat, heart and big ‘thank you’ goes out to them for all their ‘passion forward’ filled days creating safer and healthier communities – one day at a time.   

Advice Time!  My favorite way to showcase my passion is …

Be an active listener and give others your undivided attention. We miss so much when we are in a hurry, or have other things on our mind, or too many activities going on at once. By treating each person as if they are the only person in the room and the only person that matters at that moment, you will be amazed at what you will learn. After all, each of us is eager to share our passion(s) with another…make the time, be an active listener, and walk away a better more enriched person! 

Amy Mifflin is principal and founder of Global Collaborations, Inc.  An international business consulting services company specializing in the areas of corporate social responsibility, cultural and diversity management, and strategy development for short and long term goals with an aim toward delivering visionary results for organizations ranging from multinationals to medium-large regional businesses. Ms. Mifflin obtained a Bachelors of Science in Marketing and earned a second major in Management in 1990, from Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Bloomington, Indiana.  She obtained an MBA with a concentration in Organizational Leadership in 2000, from Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana. Ms. Millfin will be participating in the Pursue Your Passion Breakout Session at Ms.JD's Passion Forward Conference on February 21, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. 

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