T ommy Newberry, a leading success coach based in Atlanta, wrote a very insightful book entitled Success is Not an Accident: Change Your Choices Change Your Life. Newberry began writing the book as a letter to his son to share the principles of success he believed in, and then he morphed this document into a bestselling book.
While the book is a great resource for those committed to success, I reference it here because I really like the challenging title. The book is about living with intentions. As we begin the New Year, it is a season that many of us stop to reflect on our lives and what direction we want to go. One of the most powerful things you can do is committing to have a written personal plan.
My interviewee this week, Mississippi State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, is a firm believer in the power of planning. More on that in a moment. Fitch is a native of Holly Springs and noted, “The opportunity to grow up in a small town afforded me so many opportunities such as true closeness with family and friends, the capability to participate in many school and community organizations, an appreciation of a slower pace and to understand the inner workings of how small town businesses operate and the pathways needed to make the town successful.” She went on to earn her business and law degrees from Ole Miss. She said, “Both of these degrees have been a foundation for the career path that God placed me on for this life adventure.”
Fitch has enjoyed a very successful career in the public and private sectors. In the private sector, she had a thriving bond practice, and her public service has included serving in the Attorney General’s Office, Counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee and the Local and Private Committee, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, and Executive Director of the State Personnel Board. These experiences and the knowledge she gained positioned her to be elected as Mississippi’s 54th Treasurer on Jan. 5, 2012.
She explained, “As the Chief Financial Officer, I oversee all accounts that flow through the office, investment of those dollars, and management of those funds and the payment of bonds. It is my responsibility to see that these actions are done efficiently and effectively and certainly always being mindful of cost savings opportunities.”
Fitch credits former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Gandy as having a significant impact on her life and career. Fitch shared, “She encouraged me to serve, to create a personal life plan, and most importantly to believe in myself. She always reminded me and others that women should serve in leadership roles even knowing that certainly there would be challenges.” Fitch continued, “She was a patriot for women leaders, and I am grateful for the knowledge and compassion she shared with me. After I took office, I learned that her desk was still here, so I quickly moved it to my office. I know that every time I sit down that she is smiling down on me.”
For future leaders, Fitch encourages them to remember “their life is their own personal presentation.” She said, “We all have the same 24 hours each day, and it is how you use them that set you apart as a leader. If you believe in your success, you can achieve your goals.” Fitch encourages leaders to “set a personal life development plan and chart your stages of success and the hard work that must go into each step.” Fitch is certainly “paying it forward” with the advice and mentoring she received as a young leader.
With Fitch’s intentional living and focus, I am sure that she will continue to inspire tomorrow’s leaders.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.