"When something goes wrong, we think it's all over, when it's really just a new beginning."
"When something goes wrong, we think it's all over, when it's really just a new beginning."
What is your personal story?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that no matter what happens, I come out stronger. How do you do that? That's what my story is about. After reading you will understand why I could always start over and how I do that: 'this isn’t it, but what is it then?' I have lost everything, but I have been able to pick myself up again, time after time. How? In my case by mapping out new dreams and setting new goals.
How did this happen?
I grew up in Lottum, the rose village of the Netherlands. A small community, which was very protective of each other, and not really oriented towards the world. But as an 18-year-old I wanted to see the world, discover new things and push my boundaries.
I followed a higher vocational education in Tourism in Leiden, but because there was no work in this sector at the time, I started at DHL as a telephone operator/receptionist. I really wanted to work and not receive government support. And I didn't want to go back to the world I grew up in either.
In the following years through trial and error, I worked my way up to become a manager at DHL. What did I learn there? That I am result-oriented. But I've also discovered a personal pitfall: I find it difficult to say "no" because I fear being rejected.
This could have been fertile ground for a burnout, but it didn’t happen to me at that time.
Building on myself
In the years that followed, being result-oriented came in handy. A no-nonsense mentality: I was fired unexpectedly so back to start. What happened was an external factor that I had no control over, all I had was MYSELF.
So I started over again: at 30, I became a secretary at Centraal Beheer. This was my first step towards project and process management in the IT world at Achmea.
In addition, I worked with my partner to build up a car window business from scratch. Hard work, but our intention was to create a bright future for ourselves and retire early. After 13 years, the time had come: I was 43 when we left for Spain. The idea of seeing the world and discovering things…. I enjoyed experiencing a different culture, the language, the people and customs.
But the good life as a retiree was not for me. I was too young and still wanted to work. Partly because of this, I have had various project-based jobs in the tourism sector in Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. This included, for example, writing texts for various websites and the summer brochure of a tour operator. I also set up the Dutch Diva's Andalusia network group in Málaga East. In addition, I was committed to helping Dutch-speaking entrepreneurs in Spain. I love supporting companies and building networks and I am at my best as a problem solver for dynamic, challenging situations at companies. Today we call that a crisis manager.
Result-oriented, a networker and connector. I also discovered that I have quite a knack for writing.
Back to my roots
For private reasons I returned to the Netherlands in 2014 and ended up in the place I thought I would never come back to. I have found my dream job here: Park manager for 20 business parks of Ondernemend Venlo, a position that fits me perfectly. Nowadays I am also committed to Stichting Duurzame Bedrijventerreinen [foundation for sustainable business parks] : This is an important task for all of us in the future.
I have already been able to fulfill my dreams and wishes three times! I hope that my story inspires others, that I can help others by doing so and that I can help (young) women in Limburg to grow their potential in a world that is still often dominated by men.
I would very much like to contribute my experience to help others: to increase their self-confidence, make them more aware of their own qualities, skills and success – and help them create a more positive self-image. Take control, decide what you want to do and always believe in yourself.
Share the important challenges or breakthroughs in your career that led to where you are today
The bias towards women with a career is a challenge
In society we see that women my age often work in administrative support positions. For example, my parents did not consider an education for a girl necessary. So there was no incentive, but I went to study anyway and I went back to evening school, while working full-time. I then followed a vocationally oriented course in higher education.
Learn and lean on your strengths
There have been several breakthroughs in my life; they made me stronger.
I have learned not to be afraid and to stand up for myself. If I really want something, I dare to jump in the deep end. No matter how much the tension screams through my body and every part of it protests. My pitfall is something I have to be constantly aware of.
I can only advise others: Pay attention to your feelings, what do they tell you? Listen to your body, because it reacts before your mind.
Starting over as a single woman
In 2014 I came back to the Netherlands from Spain with only two suitcases of clothes and a wealth of experience. I literally left everything behind, even my sweet Labrador retriever! This was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. When you have lost everything, how can you rebuild your life?
I trusted the agreements made and left everything behind. What did I learn from it? When it comes to the business side of life, trust is good, but control is better: contracts don't replace trust, they build it. A hard lesson because I had to litigate for years. From now on I will try to pay better attention to things and to trust myself. I will stand up for myself and I still 'check if it makes sense' in my work.
During all of this, I regularly asked myself, ‘What's the worst that could happen if you fail?’ It helped me put things in perspective. Learning point: I can ask myself this question earlier in the process. And I have to be careful that I don't always focus on the result. I also have to take a moment to stand still and consider myself.
Learning from behaviors that hold you back
In our interviews, we like to talk about "12 Behaviors That Hold You Back" - which were researched and published in the book "How Women Rise" by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. We asked Lidy if she could identify with any of these 12 behaviors that keep women from moving forward in their careers.
It was there from an early age due to my family circumstances.
I realized that I became a perfectionist because I cared how others saw me. Do people think I am good enough or that my work is good enough? I worked harder and harder and tried to achieve a lot because I thought it was necessary to be good, nice and liked.
I have learned that it is more a form of uncertainty: relying more on the judgments of others than on my own feelings. This is me now: someone with more confidence. When I feel good and happy I can deal with challenges better than ever before.
Disease to please
Due to my perfectionism, I developed pleasing behaviors.
Helpful, considerate and concerned about others. Trying to keep the atmosphere and harmony good, but not setting boundaries and not being able to say 'no'. I hardly ever called attention to myself.
Someone who is always committed to others. It has brought me to where I am now. But it is also my pitfall and I have to be aware of this: I don't have to defend myself and 'no' is also an answer.
I can now enjoy the moment and choose for myself. I take a moment to enjoy a beautiful view or gesture that I would otherwise have passed by.
When you find yourself in a difficult situation, what is your go to skill?
When a difficult problem arises, go into response mode and take action. I don’t let myself be distracted by a crisis: let's get to work! A good example of this is the flooding of the Maas river in 2021. It was Thursday 15 July and dozens of companies on the industrial parks in Venlo were also in danger of being flooded.
Because I always support others, I have a high likeability factor with others. I immediately called everyone in my network to discuss the problem. By Friday morning, an entire project had already been launched to protect the harbor area against the Maas. In no time we had built an emergency dike. (I felt like Hans, the legendary little boy who saved the Dutch from watery graves by plugging his fabled finger into a leaky dike)! I was only able to achieve this because I had built such an extensive network of people who trusted me.
What advice would you give to other professional women who want to shine in their career?
What I have discovered about myself is partly due to professional coaching.
Find a mentor, one who wants to be there for others. Let yourself be stimulated, keep smiling and go on a journey with what inspires and motivates you.
What I want to give to other women is to spar with each other: I'm open to that. And when you can’t go on any longer, reach out and ask for others to help you stand up and you will come out stronger.
Where I am now, is a place I wish everyone could find.