Janelle Reed Leads with Grace and Growth

The best leaders start by leading themselves. How do you lead yourself? And not only lead yourself, but do it well?

When I think of how I lead myself, I think of being authentic to my true being, offering vulnerability because that’s where you form deep relationships with others. In leading myself well, I am able to be a solid leader to others. Has it always been this way? No. It has taken me a lot of life experiences to get me to where I’m at, and I’m still growing every day.

words + photographs JANELLE REED

You don’t need a title to lead. And that is true in leading yourself, as well. In the times of self-care, Brené Brown TED talks, and pandemic trauma, we all need to give ourselves some grace. Will we ever be perfect in leading others or ourselves? No. Will we have days where our thoughts overwhelm us with how much there is to do and never enough time to do it? Always.

But one of the biggest takeaways in leading yourself is to constantly allow yourself to grow. Learn from past experiences and have the hard conversations that need to be had, with yourself and others. Every moment is a learning and growing opportunity for not only yourself, but also for those you lead.

Janelle Reed, center, with her daughters Kassidy and Madison.

Setting boundaries and realizing you get to choose who is in your circle of influence is something I wished I would have learned early on and not through the hard times. But that is how I learned those things, through some really rough times. I wouldn’t change anything though, because I have grown so much through it all.

But you also NEED people to do life with. If you think you have it all figured out, I can assure you you’re not growing. Don’t become stagnant in allowing others to pour into you, give solicited advice and just do life with people. Everyone has their own stories, and we would all be such better humans if we listened to everyone’s stories that we came across.

As a single mom for 10 years now, I have felt the pressure of leading myself well to make sure that my littles (who aren’t so little anymore) see the examples I’m setting. And believe me, I’m here to say I’ve not always done it right. And there have been moments of beating myself up for it. As they have gotten older, their perspective of how I was leading myself has come into play.

SIDE Janelle Reed with her daughters Kassidy and Madison. TOP Janelle holding her bachelor’s degree from Evangel University.

I want to raise my daughters to be leaders of themselves. To be empowered to know what they need/want for themselves, not be ashamed to make it happen, and not be dependent on someone else to make it happen for them. I want them to be compassionate, loving and strong. And yes, you can be all of those things. As they become women in this world, they will have different experiences from mine. That is where I want them to grow, knowing they don’t have to lead themselves like I did because they are their own person. For me, I will continue to lead myself first and foremost. Through all the good times and bad. Through the ups and downs. I have more people than just myself counting on that. I’m sure you do too. JR

Janelle Reed is the advancement director at Victory Mission and founder of SingleMomzRock. She has two daughters, ages 15 and 17. Janelle graduated with her Bachelor’s of Science degree for Business Administration in 2020 from Evangel University.

In 2019, Janelle was part of 417 Magazine’s 10 Most Beautiful Women and was Captain Springfield in 2018. She currently sits on the board of the Lighthouse Child & Family Development Center and Blessing Baskets.

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