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Valuing Authenticity and Kindness

My Journey From the Basketball Court to the Conference Room

By Indrė Lelevičienė

D

uring my youth in Lithuania, under the Soviet regime, freedom was more than a wish — it was the dream that propelled my aspirations forward. In those times, I found a sense of freedom and escape in learning languages. They weren’t merely academic subjects, but windows to a broader world that seemed just out of reach.

And yet, I had another love: basketball. My affection for basketball, a sport that’s almost a cornerstone of Lithuanian culture, ran deep. On the court, I learned about more than just the game. I learned lessons in discipline, resilience, and the true meaning of teamwork    lessons that laid the groundwork for who I am today and how I approach both challenges and opportunities.

As life unfolded, I came to a fork in the road: the comforting embrace of basketball or the intriguing world of languages. Languages promised a different kind of journey, one filled with connection and the joy of communication. Embracing languages was like turning towards a part of myself that had always been there, quietly waiting. It was a side of me that was captivated by the incredible power of words to connect and uplift.

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This love for languages led me to study Translation and Interpreting of Technical Language at Kaunas University of Technology, a choice that gently nudged me onto the path I walk today. As I began my journey in the language industry, I brought along the valuable lessons learned from my time in sports. This shift wasn’t just about moving to a new field; it involved bringing a spirit of authenticity and teamwork into this different space. Starting out as a freelancer, it quickly became clear to me that success here wasn’t solely about fluency in various languages — it was deeply rooted in how sincerely you connect with your work and those you’re helping. This understanding became my guiding light, helping me navigate through ups and downs with a clear sense of purpose.

Gradually advancing in my career — from handling project management to taking on the role of CEO — the lessons of staying true to myself and the significance of supporting others grew increasingly clear. I learned that mentorship is valuable as not only a kind gesture, but also a powerful tool for mutual development. By supporting others, we do more than aid in their development; we also enrich our own lives and the overall culture of our workplace. An ethos of encouragement and empowerment is fundamental to lifting one another up and facing challenges with strength and togetherness.

In an industry where precision and honesty are crucial, I realized there’s simply no place for dishonesty or taking shortcuts. My aversion to compromising on my values stems from a deep-seated belief that authenticity is the cornerstone of true success. It’s about producing work that I am proud to associate with my name — work that stands as a testament to a commitment to quality and integrity.

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My two sons are now exploring their paths in basketball, mirroring the journey I once undertook. Watching them brings the lessons of sports full circle, highlighting the universal values it teaches us. I share with them not only stories from my days on the court, but also the guiding principles that have steered my life.

Their steps into basketball, alongside my voyage through the world of languages, underline a beautiful continuity. It shows that our pursuits, be it in sports or languages, are woven together by shared values of dedication, teamwork, and striving for excellence. It’s a gentle reminder that the essence of our choices reflects the values we hold dear and the legacy we wish to pass on to the younger generations.

Reflecting on my path, I’m filled with gratitude for the lessons learned, from the tough basketball courts to the dynamic world of conference rooms. This journey has taught me a profound lesson: Staying true to oneself and extending a hand to lift up others is the essence of real success and joy. I share my experiences hoping to inspire others to pursue their dreams with integrity and to recognize the impact of even the smallest acts of kindness.

It’s those moments of sharing advice or simply listening that can truly make a difference in someone’s life within our industry. These gestures of kindness create a nurturing environment where we can all thrive, learn, and pursue our aspirations. I’m committed to living a life in which supporting others is as much a passion as chasing my own dreams.

Ultimately, my journey can be summarized in these simple yet powerful principles: stay true to who you are, embrace generosity in your kindness, and never underestimate the influence you can have — no matter how modest it may seem. As I navigate the ever-evolving terrain of the language industry, these truths continue to guide me, illuminating my way forward and reinforcing the power of unity and mutual support.

Indrė Lelevičienė is CEO at Baltijos vertimai (BV Translations) and a member of the Board of Directors for the European Language Industry Association (ELIA). She is an ambassador for various events and initiatives, including LocInPink.

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