Category: On My Mind

Not My Circus

Posted on May 26th, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

 

When you take off on a flight, the attendant always says the same thing: “In case of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first before helping the people around you.” This includes the ones you love!

As a road warrior I know this mantra better than anyone.  I heard these words every Monday morning for 17 years! It was the theme song of my undoing and then the melody of my road back home.

This, my friend, is the single best piece of advice in my tool chest of tricks. We all know I have a treasure trove of good advice, cautionary tales, analogies and tricks up my sleeve.  This one should not be ignored!

Recently, one of my favorite members of my Personal Board passed through town.  At an impromptu mini board gathering over fish tacos and red wine, she reminded me of another important saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”

Wow, how powerful and freeing is that statement?  How thought provoking.

“Save yourself first” so you can save the folks around you. Further, “If it is not your circus and not your monkeys” where do your responsibilities start and where do they end? What is yours and what is theirs? What is helping and what is enabling? What is teaching and what is providing answers? Listening and lecturing? Loving and smoothing?

As a parent of grown children, letting go is a tippy ship at best.  Mission accomplished, although I type through tears, as my son officially graduates and moves the last box of clothing and mementos to Philadelphia next month to start his new career. Nevertheless, isn’t that the point?  If you do it right they should leave the nest! My son put his oxygen mask on first! He found his own circus and his own monkeys! Painful as his parting is, I couldn’t be prouder.  The coolest part is that we are going to meet every other week in the middle for a meal (once a foodie always a foodie). I will say that again. WE WILL MEET IN THE MIDDLE! (Hold that thought)

So if we are to put our “Oxygen mask on first,” and if it is  “Their circus and their monkeys” how are we to continue to show up for our family, friends, colleagues, society and the world in a caring and meaningful way while still retaining our boundaries?  After all, isn’t showing up fully truly the only way we can make an impact? How then will we still help the ones we love and be of service?

Here is my list of tips for putting on your oxygen mask first so you can show up for those around you while continuing to take care of yourself.

 

We are all a work in progress

Never stop growing, learning, evolving, exploring, asking, stretching, reading, expanding, scaring yourself, stepping out of your comfort zone! Repeat!

I am a life learner! I say that I am done getting certifications and degrees.  We all know I am lying. I will never stop learning!  I will never stop reading, taking courses and stepping out of my comfort zone.  I will never stop reinventing myself! We live, we learn, we grow and should repeat this process again and again and again!  Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge.

 

Be Your Personal Best

Whatever your aspiration, strive to be the best in class.  How do you achieve this? Simple, roll up your sleeves and put in the work!  Do the research. Do your homework. Network, Network, Network (even when you are exhausted). Stretch further than comfortable. Show up fully. Frankly, when you think you have done your best work possible, take one more pass through.  In conjunction, have no expectations of others. You won’t need to, you will be too busy leading by example.

 

Take Care of Yourself

I never end a coaching session without inquiring about my clients’ self-care rituals.  Why? Because at the heart of our work together, no matter what the topic, we can accomplish nothing if we are not taking care of ourselves.

It is the same reason that I watch everything I put in my mouth. Eat organic if possible (even when traveling).  Try desperately to get a good night sleep each night, and exercise regularly. I have dragged my yoga mat with me on every trip I have taken for all 17 years of business travel (oh the places we have seen!).  It took my limo driver until last year to figure out that I was not a heavy breather and I was meditating on the way to the airport!

Create a healthy routine and stick to it. A healthy life style will lead to productivity. You will become influential, productivity is sticky!

 

Listen More, Talk Less:

Don’t let the noise cancelling headphones, pile of work, the fact that I am typing, have my eyes closed, am facing the other way, or that I am actually sleeping dissuade you.  If I am in your presence (whether I know you or not) you will talk to me and I will listen. You will tell me things you have never told anyone, and I WILL KEEP YOUR CONFIDENCE.  I will give you advice, I WILL NEVER JUDGE.  Trust me I know things I could have gone my whole life without knowing, but rest assured when you utter the last word it is already forgotten.

When I go on vacation with my family I am instructed not to look up or make eye contact with anyone! (After all, it is their time).  All kidding aside this is the best gift you can give someone, empathy and understanding. A safe place to unload, and then let them go on their contemplative way to figure it out.

 

Energy Zappers/Energy Fillers:

Get in touch with the people, places, and trying that are sapping your energy and GET RID OFF THEM!  Okay, so this is not always practical. If it was, I for one would spend my days reading, doing yoga, cooking, gardening, hiking, mountain biking, eating at great restaurants and watching old movies.

We are all intimately in touch with what brings us stress; however, are you aware that there is a positive counter balance?

I am also a bit of a math geek, and a strong believer in that “What gets measured gets done.”  In fact if I was to get a tattoo (which I won’t kids, so you can’t) it would have that phrase.  As a result, I have invented the “Balancing Act” equation. (AP to follow)

How does it work? Make a list of everything that brings you stress and give it a numerical value. Then, come up with a list of energy fillers and do the same until you reach equilibrium!  I challenge you to balance your act! Leave others to do the same.

 

Speak Your Mind.  Don’t over communicate:

No one likes a nag and overstating the same point over and over and over again does not make it so.

Stop!

Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again expecting different results.  This came up two blogs in a row for a reason!  Don’t hold back. Say it once. Hope you are heard. Move on.

 

Come As You Are

You cannot change anyone but yourself and you should not want to.  It is your responsibility to continue to grow and evolve, and it everyone else’s responsibility to do the same.  You should always strive to be your personal best and hope that the people around you continue to do the same.  At the end of the day you must accept people for where they are regardless of the level.  That is their choice.  Do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. I repeat, do not let it deter you from continuing to grow. Lead by example.

 

Drop the Mad

This is one of my personal favorites; however, be cautioned it does not always work! Nothing was ever accomplished through screaming, yelling and or trying to solve the world’s problems in one sitting.  Sometimes you just have to take a break from it all and have some fun.  If you can put together some peaceful connected moments you can get back to figuring out the world’s problems through a clearer lens.

 

Take Breaks

Step out of the drama! Get out of the ring! Take yourself out of the line of fire! Do it for an hour. Do for a day. Do it for a week. Do it for any amount of time necessary and practical so that you can clear your head and think.  Take as much alone time and thinking time required to make the decisions and put the actions in place that are right for you.  After all this is yours, not theirs.

 

Empty Vessels/Projects:

Oh how I love a good project!  I get that from my Grandma Fanny.  She always took in strays, and I am very much the same.  I have a 12 foot farm table and none of the chairs match.  Neither do the people that often pass through for the home cooked meals on Sunday.  My family and I often reminisce and say, “I wonder what ever happened to so and so. I hope it all turned out well”.

I bring this up as a cautionary tale. It is a gift to give, but it can also be trap.  Always give and open yourself to others, but remember it is a two way street.

 

So, in conclusion, what is yours, theirs and ours anyway?

Another favorite saying of mine is really a question. What happens when you stop hitting your head against a wall?  Answer, it stops hurting.  What is yours and what is theirs anyway?  Truth is, it is all yours and it is all theirs.  It is our job to be our best, it is their job to strive to do the same. It is our job to take care of ourselves. It is definitely their job to do the same.  It is always our job to show up fully. To be kind, caring, helpful (when asked), resourceful and always, always show empathy. It is their job to clean up their side of the street and do the same. Perhaps in time we agree to meet in the middle? Perhaps we don’t?  In the end the universe will take care of the rest.


In Case of Emergency Break Glass

Posted on March 29th, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Effectiveness. 2 comments

I sleep at night with the security of knowing that there is a box of snowcaps in my night-table.  This box of snowcaps has remained in my night-table unopened for over twenty years.  It has accompanied me through multiple moves, various trials and tribulations, and a multiple of life changes, players and personal iterations.

For those who know me personally, I live on carrot sticks and hummus. I rarely even eat chocolate.  So why the Snow Caps?  The answer is quite simple; it’s symbolic and synonymous for comfort.  It is for the same reason that when I was preparing for Hurricane Sandy I bought water, gas, flashlights and five boxes of snowcaps.  After all, if life was going to become challenging, I wanted to make sure I had my comforts available!

I have spent the past month, as I do the open of each year, cleaning (well organizing), purging, and setting the stage for the upcoming year. While cleaning my night-table I came across this ancient box, smiled, and began to contemplate the other “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” habits I have adopted over the years.  Further I pondered how important these survival habits, safe guards and rituals have become to my well-being and survival in today’s crazy, surprise laden, 24-7 world.

Looking back on simpler times, before the age of cell phones and constant internet contact, having an emergency contact list really had meaning.  When leaving the house as a pre-teen and young adult one was told to be home before dark and handed a couple of quarters so you could call someone ”In case of an Emergency”.  We all instinctively knew just who to call.  For me it was my Grandma Fanny.  She would get you anywhere, anytime, no questions, no judgment. Who is that person or those people for you?  Who will you call when the stakes are high and the chips are down?

It’s wonderful when your children become adults and you can have really honest conversations about what kind of parent you were when they were growing up, and how you continue to support them today. I have come to learn that I am an “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” Mom. What does that mean I asked? Apparently, when it came to the simply day to day stuff like teaching them how to change light bulbs, do laundry, boiling eggs and making beds neatly I failed my kids miserably.  After all we were always in survival mode, who could be bothered! Thankfully, everyone turned out great in the end. We skipped egg boiling and went right to omelets. We would be appalled if we got less than A’s in any of our classes, a project (present company included) or showed up late or unprepared to a game or practice!  We lived by the golden rule, “Do on to others as you want to be treated yourself”.  Most importantly, if you dropped any of us on the set of survivor I am sure we would all make it off the island.

Here are my favorite in case of emergency break glass habits and rituals:

 

Stop!

I used to be the queen of running away from my issues.  NO MORE!

In fact I was so skilled at the art of self-deception that I have multiple degrees, a wall of certifications, a laundry list of accomplishments and success beyond my humblest comprehension, all to cover up for problems neglected.

Consequently, I have left shipwrecks of astonished people and boat loads of unanswered questions in my wake. Those days are over.

You can mask running with productivity all you want, but in the end you will need to face your demons and issues head on. Today is as good a day as any.

Slow down, dive in and face the music. This too shall pass!

 

Empty, Not Fill

As an ex-chronic runner, filler, busy making problem avoider, and collector of both people and things, I have actually made this one of my New Year Resolutions!

There is nothing better in times of stress, trial & tribulation, and deep contemplation to go on a Personal Purge.

What does this mean?  If you need to ask yourself more than once, “Should I hold on to this? The answer is NO.  This includes people places and things!

 

Don’t Isolate

Chances are if you run, you also hide.  Waiting till you feel better to contact your friends make no sense and defeats the purpose of having them?

Misery does require company.  There are others that have walked in your shoes, find them and they will comfort you.  Open up to the people you trust.  You will be amazed to learn you are not as unique as you think.

 

Know When To Let Go

Knowing when to let go is always a challenge and often what brings us to our “In Case of Emergency” state.

It is helpful to remember that

“Some people and circumstances present themselves for a reason, some for a season and some to stay.”

I have used this phrase to comfort myself, my clients, my children, and many a saddened friend when they did not get or lost their job, gone through a horrible break up, divorce or life just did not live up to their expectation.

Should I stay or go? Hold on or cut bait?

Knowing the difference is crucial and knowing when to let go is critical!

It helps to remember that life and relationships are dynamic, cyclical and fluid.  Be open to all possibilities, and keep your eyes open and learn to read the signs. The right people will actually seem to appear out of thin air.

Trying to make a situation work when it shouldn’t is futile, staying too long may be counterproductive and often destructive.  Trust and move on.

The people and things that are supposed to be there will. The ones that aren’t won’t.

Definition of insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

 

Break the Rules

I am a definite do gooder, non-corner cutter, live by the golden rule type of girl, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.  In times of emergencies you just might be forced to cut a corner or two. Step out of your comfort zone or just push boundaries a bit to experiment with what is possible.  Hey you never know? You could stumble into something positive. Just be mindful that you don’t push too far and that you can live with the consequences of your actions.

 

Sweat the Big Stuff!

I am a firm believer that there isn’t an issue or problem that cannot be worked out through with good old fashion sweat and a pair of sneakers, bicycle, yoga mat, weights or whatever physical activity floats your boat. Once a gym rat always a gym rat.  I started my Entrepreneurial track as a personal trainer 25 years ago and have always kept a gym membership since, even though I prefer outside workouts (even in the dead of winter). I suggest you do the same. The point is not to isolate. Get up, get out, sweat and start your day right.  If you prefer working out at night then go straight to the gym not to your couch. Not to sound unoriginal…JUST DO IT!

I have recently developed a love hate relationship with Hot Yoga.  Seriously, who comes up with these things?  As if balancing all of your body weight on one leg while holding perfectly still for 60 seconds is not bad enough, now add the element of 104 degrees.  Sheer insanity!  Yet I show up every Sunday. Why you ask? Discipline? It’s good for me? I’m nuts? My logic, it is mental conditioning. If I can do an hour of yoga each week while being roasted alive, everything else that is going to happen to me will be uphill from there.

 

Adventures

Along with my gym rat mentality is my zest for adventure. I am a definite adrenalin junkie and know this has served me well to help me through many rough patches.  For me stepping out of my comfort zone is most often around trying new kinds of physical activity. Parachute Yoga (I know who thinks of these things, but my favorite!), Mountain Biking (15 years ago before it was cool), Rollerblading (when they first came out) to name a few.  My son is still traumatized from when I would blade past his bus in middle school and people would say, “Isn’t that your mom?”  He would say no, as if there were many other rollerblading moms in the neighborhood.

Bottom line is pick your poison.  Live on the edge just long enough to get out of your head for a bit of a break.

 

Fun & Laughter

As hard as I work is as hard as I play. If you read my blogs, or perhaps know me personally, you know that I find the humor in even the most awful situations and topics.

I am a survivor but aren’t we all, we could not have gotten to where we are today without a few bumps or bruises.

I have surrounded myself with some of the best people in the world. Trust me; we have had no shortage of fun.  I have laughed at myself, we have laughed at each other, but most importantly we have never stopped showing up for life, and having fun, fun, fun.

I recently described a best friend of mine as a “Party in a Bag”.  This is such a great description of many of my closest friendships. Many of us don’t live in the same state. Our relationships take extra work. So we put in the time and the effort, schedule phone calls, we drive in traffic to see each other, we get on planes and when we arrive we make it count!  We laugh, we cry (if necessary) and we have FUN.

LAUGHTER, FUN, CONNECTION are truly the best medicine.

 

Calling All Contacts

This will sound like such a contradiction to so much of what I have preached, but I used to be in the habit of waiting till I fixed my problems and then reporting my progress back to my friends.  This is absurd!

I am happy to report that I am over this.  I will admit that I have had to call myself out to my friends on this habit and they know to reach out if they do not hear from me.

I recommend having regularly scheduled times to speak to out of town friends and specific times you meet your local friends and actually put it in your calendar.  This way it actually happens!!

 

Comfort Food

Surrounding yourself with creature comforts in times of trouble is a great thing to do, but remember when you popped that last snowcap, finished the bag of potato chips, and drowned your sorrows in a pint of rocky road you will feel no better about yourself the next day. News flash, your problems are still going to be there.

Remember Rome was not built on Fast Food and French Fries!  Think “Brain Fuel” and make healthy choices especially when the chips are down.  My rules of thumb, “If it does not fly, swim, grow or have a mother, don’t eat it.”   In other words, stay away from anything processed if you want to think clearly to work through your rough patches.

Do treat yourself but make healthy choices.  Like one glass of heart healthy Red Wine (good red wine of course!), or a square or two of dark chocolate.

 

Self Care

Times of trouble are no times to let yourself go.  In fact you should step up your game even more.  My sister-in-law and I have a running joke.  She will always say to me in my darkest hours.  “You look fabulous, how can I help”?

If you are a girl, don’t leave the house without make up, if you are a guy shave for heaven sake.

Keep up with manicures and pedicures, dye and cut your hair, schedule a massage, update your wardrobe.

This too shall pass and the last thing you are going to want to do when the dust settles is personal triage, nor should you require a full make-over once things have settled down.

Your grandmother was only partly right.  You should never leave the house without a nice clean pair of matching underwear. Only you shouldn’t do this in case you get in an accident, you should do this because it makes you feel good about yourself!

 

Spoil Yourself With a Little Retail Therapy

For me there isn’t a problem in the world that cannot be solved when I have found the perfect pair of new boots and a matching handbag.  This I know might not work for everyone.  I also don’t recommend retail therapy if your problem is in relation to finances!

Retail therapy comes in all forms and defined is purchasing anything large or small that makes you feel good about yourself, if even for a moment.

Truth be told my favorite retail therapy is gift giving.  I love buying gifts and sending my friends random things in the mail spontaneously.  No occasion required. I do this out of the blue when I come across something I think will be helpful, or just because it reminds me of them. I do this a lot so they no longer think it’s strange.  I highly recommend it.  It definitely gets you out of negative thinking for a while.

 

Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Every night before I go to sleep I write down at least three good things that happened to me that day and/or three things that I have to be grateful for.  It does not matter what is going on in your life, there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for at the end of the day.  As you start doing this, the positive things will out way the negative things and before your know it the tide will turn.

 

Contemplation

“What brings me to the mat can most often be worked out on the mat”

Translation:

For those of you who have not read my blog the “Is the Finish Line Really a Dotted Line” please do.

Your face down in the ring moment is when your face is on the mat and you are down for the count.  The crowd is waiting.  What are you going to do? Stay down or get up? Let the other win or claim your rightful victory? This moment is golden; however, it is important to remember this moment is yours to claim and choose alone.

That is where the other mat has always come in for me, the yoga mat that is.  Here I can strip down the noise, adrenalin, anxiety, outside influences, and conventional wisdom to decide what I really want.

Find your means of peaceful contemplation.  Then ask yourself what you really want?  What is your gut telling you?  It is in those quite moments of peaceful contemplation that the healing takes place and the answers come.  Follow your voice.  Don’t the next right thing.

So in conclusion dear reader I wish you neither malice nor harm. I do hope that you read this blog and file it someplace safe and never need to use this list of “In Case of Emergency” tactics.  My list is safely nestled next to my snowcaps as you conclude. It is however an uncertain world and life will continue to throw us surprises and curve balls.  Today I do hope you wake up emergency free; nevertheless, just “In Case of Emergency” my list of tactics is my gift to you as you never know, “Maybe one will come up?”

 

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.


On The Lighter Side of HR? From The Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age

Posted on January 26th, by Jacqueline Clay in Business and Workplace, On My Mind, The Funny Side of HR. 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: Please welcome Jacqueline Clay, our newest contributor, with a new feature for 2016.  Each month, “From the Desk of a Woman of a Certain Age” will take a light-hearted look at HR of yesterday vs. HR of today.  We hope you enjoy it!

 

Hello HR Professionals!

 

We Are Still Here…..
Office Management, Personnel, Human Resources, People Management, Business Partners. We have lasted decade after decade. We are like the watch, “we take a licking but keep on ticking!” Yes, our name changed, but we are still the same folks that interview, hire, fire (aka terminate, layoff or downsize), listen, coach, counsel, advise, train, write policies, procedures, rules, regulations and stand as the target on the firing line when things go “left”. We are the keepers of the flames of objectivity and provide the ethical, moral, “do the right thing” barometers’ that helps to develop, strengthen and maintain the best practices company acumen. We have walked, strolled and skipped hand and hand with our business leaders for many years…sometimes tripping over bad behavior, falling in the hole of subjectivity or stepping over the grate of ethical concern. Sometimes we have had to go “undercover” and operate in covert ways to make sure that our HR badge of honor, trust and credibility did not become tarnished. We start our profession bright eyed and energetic like Mary in the beginning stages of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and later look like the mature Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show if we don’t come to realistic terms about what we can and can not do. (Yes…I said I am a woman of a certain age).

 

Life Literally Abounds In Comedy…
Don’t be dismayed though. Personnel, HR, Business Partner….it is a great opportunity and through my many, many years of HR experience, I have encountered and been a part of a ton of humorous and thought provoking observations. We deal with people and people can be unpredictable and very funny. We handle relationships between prospective employees, current employees and the employer and trust me, often times these relationships can fall unexpectedly into the pit of comedy.

 

Who Am I?
I am a senior level HR professional and have worked my way up the HR ladder to Director/Chief HR Officer for a myriad of companies in my over 20 year career. I have seen it all and trust me, sometimes I wish I hadn’t! From the 1980’s through the decade of the 2010’s, HR has had to make and made tremendous adjustments to stay viable. With some of these changes, we kicked, screamed and were dragged to the change table. Sometimes we just sat at the table of an executive meeting and thought to ourselves, “they know not what they do”. (I must add this one note… once when I was asked to attend an “Executive Meeting”, I noticed that my chair sat lower than the other executives. My chin was not far from the top of the table. There were no other chairs available. I felt like a little kid at the Thanksgiving table! Were they trying to tell me something? However, at the time, I was just happy to have the always desired “seat” at the Executive Meeting., albeit it low). I digress. More on having a seat at the executive table in a future article. In any case, we HR folks stayed afloat.

 

Going Forward…Please Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Now understand, the upcoming articles, just like this one, will be opinion pieces. I want to make it clear…it is just my opinion…my view. These may not be your experiences…so don’t ask for my SHRM (Society of Human Resources Management) card back! I have lived a very observatory life. I am always looking, seeing, questioning, analyzing the whys and why nots of the full realm of this business. The good, the bad, the ugly, the funny.

This series will be an observatory view comparing some aspects of yesteryear HR to today…with some comedic undertones. Or is it overtones?? I love to laugh and hope you will join me on a trip down memory lane as it pertains to all things HR. I am so thankful that I am old enough to take the trip and young enough to still remember!!!!

See you next month!

Regards……..

An HR Woman of A Certain Age!

 

About the Author: Jacqueline Clay is a freelance HR business consultant working with small and midsize organizations to assist them in meeting the challenging responsibilities associated with the full realm of HR management.  With  over 20 years leadership experience in all aspects of the HR business, she has helped organizations in a myriad of areas, including  on boarding, labor/employee relations, policy and procedure development, organizational effectiveness, coaching and training.  She holds a BA in Psychology from Fordham University.


It Takes Guts to Get Out of the Ruts

Posted on January 5th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Another New Year is upon us, and with it a plethora of goals being set and resolutions being made.  I’ve written about this each of the past couple of Januarys, both in the context of resolutions vs. goals and real change as well as changing mindsets.  Call it what you want, but come January 1st of each year, most of us are thinking about what we want to do differently in the upcoming year.

This year I’m taking a little bit different spin on resolutions, goals, and mindsets.  For at least a part of 2015, the idea of comfort zones (and breaking out of them) was a theme in my own life.  In fact, I wrote a piece a few months ago about that topic, a personal one inspired by events happening around me in my own life and the lives of others I know, and one that based on feedback and comments resonated with quite a few other folks who read it as well.

Several months later, I still stand by what I wrote.  Too many of us linger in what’s comfortable and familiar rather than pushing ourselves into what could be a little scary at first in the spirit of bettering ourselves, our lives, our situations.  But I now also think that recognizing the tendency to linger in a comfort zone and wanting to do something about it is one thing.  Actually doing something about it is another thing altogether.

 

“It Takes Guts to Get Out of the Ruts”

A couple of months ago I stumbled across this tidbit in the form of a fortune cookie.  Most of the time fortune cookie fortunes either make me a chuckle, or just make me say “huh?”  But every once in a while I come across one that I find to be a little more poignant in its message, and this was one of those times.  I kept that fortune and hung it on my refrigerator.  I knew there was something about it I liked and that inspired me, but it took me some time to put my finger on exactly what was resonating.  Eventually what I realized is that it caught my attention because it actually related directly to that concept of pushing out of comfort zones that I had already explored earlier in the year.

Call them comfort zones or call them ruts; perhaps there is a subtle difference between the two, but both imply a sort of being “stuck” in one place.  The difference as I see it is that that generally “ruts” are something we consciously want out of, comfort zones, by their very definition, maybe not so consciously.  But either way, whether we want out of them or not, they’re preventing us from moving forward.

But again, the desire to break out of a rut or comfort zone, to make changes, is just the start.  What’s required to actually do it?  That’s often where the guts come in.  It’s often not easy.  It often requires taking action that scares the hell out of us.  It may require strong will, tests of character, and gumption to make it happen.

Sometimes it means needing to finally stand up for ourselves and say “what about me?”  It may mean having to confess feelings…to others, or even scarier admitting them to ourselves.  Many times it means facing the possibility of being shot down, of facing rejection, of being told no, of having a door closed in our face.  Of facing the possibility of failing.  It may mean spinning our wheels in one place for a little while to build up the momentum to move forward.  It may leave us exhausted, frustrated, or even at wits end.

But with persistence, it can also pay off exponentially.  At the very least, it may provide us with clarity and answers for where to go and what to do next.

So as we face a new year, a blank slate waiting to be written upon, which ruts do you find yourself in?  Which comfort zones are you ready to push yourself out of?  And more importantly, what are you willing to do to, even sacrifice, to make that happen?

2016….bring it on!

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has almost two decades of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Is The Finish Line Really a Dotted Line?

Posted on December 22nd, by a Guest Contributor in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 2 comments

Why is it from the time we are children we are always striving to reach the next milestone. We can’t wait to lose our baby teeth, only to find we look silly and can’t successfully chew.

Reaching double digits comes next accompanied by gaining entry to a coveted seat at the grown up table. Where consequently we are introduced to chores and responsibilities and often where the conversation is quite boring!

Fast forward, we speed through our high school years.  Our new focus becomes getting accepted into to the college of our dreams.  We are warned by our family, teachers and trusted advisors that these are the best times of our lives.  We do not heed their warnings and fail to truly savor the simplicity of the time.

We then become excited for college graduation.  This is when real life will begin! We will build up our resumes, network and interview like a madman and woman.  The next thing we know we are drones on the train station platform, ordering coffee on auto pilot, and entering the Monday morning rat race.

Finally comes grown up life. True independence; life on one’s own terms. In reality this means mortgages, bills, car payments and more.  Often this is followed by cohabitation or marriage. “If only I was in a relationship and had kids then my life would really start,” might become the next goalpost or mantra. Like all other milestones, does anything truly prepare you for this? Who provides you with the warning labels and fine print?

So net net my dear reader is this; whether you are 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50, in Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Marriage, Divorce, Parenthood or Old-Age, the one thing you can undoubtedly count on is that life will continue to raise the stakes.

What are you going to do when life throws you a curve ball? Are you going to lie down and take it or are you going to raise the bar?

One can never truly know what life has in store; nevertheless, you need to be prepared to face each challenge head on.  Always bear in mind that adversity bares vast opportunity.

Here are my favorite tips for dealing with life’s ebbs, flows, curve balls and bombshells while continuing to raising the bar:

  1. Recognize the signs:

Get real, life does not usually fall apart overnight.  There are signs. Do not ignore the red flashing lights from the runway.

  1. Read between the lines:

Look for the hidden signs. They are there, you just might not be looking hard enough.

  1. Be realistic:

Face reality.  Whatever the facts are deal with them head on.

  1. Get some rest:

Change is exhausting.  Get some rest and by all means schedule in some fun!

  1. Save yourself first:

When you get on a plane they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first. This is good advice.  If you are ok, you will have the strength to do what needs to be done. You can then help those around you get up to pace and follow your lead.

  1. Practice Self-Care:

This is no time to let yourself go!  Make sure to continue or adopt self-care rituals that helps revive and rebuild your energy stores. Exercise, Eat Well, Walk with a friend, Spend time outdoors, get a massage, and fill in the blank:_______!

  1. Fake it till you make it:

My late Aunt Phyllis taught me that if I did not know how to play tennis to get a great tennis outfit, learn how to jump over the net and then get lessons. “You will catch on” she explained.

I do this with everything in life.  I decide what I want to do or be next and then I the figure it out in the trenches.  Consequently I always get there!

  1. Be Your Personal Best:

Learn, Explore, Read, Stay Relevant, Repeat …………

  1. Outsourcing and Lifelines:

If someone offers to help you thank them and say yes! You do not have to be a hero. I have not done a load of laundry or a stitch of housework in the two years that I went back to school to change my career.  Relinquishing control is difficult, but necessary.  Something has to give!

  1. Let go:

There are things that you will need to let go of along your journey.  These may be people, places and things.  You cannot be all things to all people.  You cannot divide yourself too thin or you will lose focus and you may not succeed.  Remember you are the one on the Journey and you are the one that is undergoing Transformation.  Trust the process.  Let others catch up.

  1. Contact & Thank your Supporters & Personal Board:

You put a Personal Board together for a reason – this is it! During times of transformation you need your closest supporters and accountability partners the most.  They will keep you going, talk you off the ledge, cheer you on, and be your best sounding boards.  All this, while keeping you honest and sane.

My grandfather taught me at a young age the importance of finding the people you admired the most in life and your career and bringing them into your inner circle.  More importantly I learned on my own that in order to have a good friend you needed to be a good friend. I value my close relationships above all else in life, and give relationships my all.  I treasure each and every one of you. You all know who you and I know you are reading this.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank You!

  1. Welcome New and Fabulous Fellow Travelers!

Wow, the people you will meet!  Doctor Seuss might have said this first but boy was he right.  I have met the greatest people during my transition into my new career.  When I walked into NYU that first Sunday morning two years ago I did not realize the door I was truly opening.  I have met the greatest people, some I believe to be lifelong friends.  Through opening up to new networking opportunities I have again met fabulous people, joined a board and again made fantastic new friends.  I have had lunches and coffee dates that have been like warm comfortable sweaters and long deep exhales.  Yes, there are people out there that will truly get you, and get what you are going through.  Be open to them and let them in.  Your will expand and new opportunities will be endless.

  1. Steal and savor all and any Peaceful Connected Moment:

I coined the phrase Peaceful Connected Moment when I had small children.  By definition a Peaceful Connected Moment, is a very small window of time when the wheels stop, the noise in your mind slows if only for a moment, and you can savor a moment of quiet peace and contemplation.

You will know when one arises.  Learn to recognize it, and enjoy.

  1. Be willing to take a risk:

At the end of the day, when the preparation, contemplation, and analyzing is over, you must be willing to roll the dice.  (I can’t take credit for this, it came from a board member)

You must trust the “Net Will Appear” -Zen Saying

or

“Learn to Swim or Build a Boat” me 

  1. Let go of dead weight (kindly), but beware of the carnage:.

When you emerge from the rubble and dust yourself off, not everyone will be there to cheer you when you take your victory lap. This is ok. The ones that are supposed to be there will and the ones that aren’t won’t. That’s life.

You will survive.

 

My life has imploded and I have reinvented myself so many times, I can hardly recognize myself. This is a good thing; adversity has brought me great opportunity! I have been knocked down and have gotten up each time from my face down in the ring moments stronger, wiser and more resilient from the fight. I have faced adversity and won.  I have raised the bar each time and clearly understand there is no finish line or end game in sight.  There are only targets, goals and lots and lots of surprises. I am excited for every new challenge.  Bring them on, I’m ready willing and able!

I challenge you to do the same.

 

About the Author:  Joan Axelrod Siegelwax, a previous guest contributor to Women of HR, is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture.  Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.


Comfort Zones

Posted on August 18th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. No Comments

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been watching, observing, and talking with many people around me as they have wrestled with big decisions.  Some of these situations were personal, some were professional, some of them even on the level of life-changing.  As I witnessed their struggles with deciding which path to take, with which way to go, in most cases it became evident that the underlying issue they were striving to come to terms with was a choice between sticking with the known and comfortable, or venturing into the unknown, uncertain, and maybe just a little bit scary.

 

Why do we tend to linger in our comfort zones?

Think about your favorite blanket or sweatshirt. The one that on a cold and dreary day you can’t wait to snuggle up with. That feeling of putting it on or wrapping yourself in it and sinking down onto the couch…ahh, feels so nice, so warm, so safe…doesn’t it? It’s so easy to just stay there all day, in the warm, familiar comfort. Maybe drift off to sleep for a bit. Maybe just lay there savoring the feeling. Nothing else seems to matter.

But nothing much gets accomplished while you’re there either.

Comfort zones are much like that blanket or that sweatshirt. They are easy, they are familiar, they don’t require much work. They are our security blankets.

 

Why do we stay in the job that no longer challenges us? Because it’s easy and pays well? Because it’s easier and less scary than starting over somewhere new?

Why do we keep people in our lives that drag us down rather than build us up? Because we can’t imagine letting them go? Because it’s too hard to walk away?

Why do we stay in that relationship we know doesn’t work or bring out the best in us? Because it’s better than nothing? Because the thought of being alone is scary? Because we’ve already invested so much time in it, and well…it’s easier and less work than starting over with someone new?

 

We’ve all been guilty of it. Every one of us, at some point in our lives.

See, these comfortable things can feel good. We tell ourselves they are good enough. They are acceptable. They work for where we are in life. There may even be a solid reason we can use to rationalize staying there. Right? They could even be more than just acceptable….they could be…pretty good.

Pretty good, perhaps. But maybe not great.

Can we experience…do we deserve…something greater?

 

Do you ever wonder what could be?

Great things don’t happen in comfort zones.

Over the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to say yes to more opportunities. To things that might have scared me, that I might have thought I wasn’t good enough for, that I didn’t know enough about. I’ve said yes to things that the mere thought of gave me butterflies, in which my initial reaction was “I don’t even know where to start!” Because I know putting myself in these situations is what makes me grow as a person. Because those same nervous butterflies can turn into feelings of exhilaration and accomplishment, a feeling of being on top of the world.

But I also know there is still more I can do to push myself out of my own comfort zone. I still linger there too. It’s a work in progress.

 

What If?

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.”  Grace Murray Hopper

What if we took a chance? What if we mustered our courage, took a deep breath, and jumped?

What if we said yes to that opportunity? 
What if we got on a plane or in the car and moved to that new city?
What if we let go of what’s been holding us back from moving forward towards something better?

What if we did what scares us?

Maybe we’d land our dream job. Maybe our career would take a turn in a direction we never imagined possible, much less probable. Maybe we’d find happiness we never knew existed. Maybe we’d find the true love of our life.

It’s probably easier said than done. Strike that…it IS easier said than done.

But in that scary, unknown place….maybe that’s where the magic lives.

When your time comes, when that opportunity knocks on your door, will you be ready to take the leap? Or will you snuggle up under that cozy blanket and stay there “just a little longer….”?  Will you face and embrace the unknown, or settle for the path of least resistance and complacency?

Will you jump, or will you stay and never know?

 images

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.


Reflection and Perspective, Revisited

Posted on August 11th, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 6 comments

I’ve been on vacation in Myrtle Beach over the past week soaking up some sun and unwinding from the daily grind. I wrote this post after my vacation here last August and wanted to bring it back out as it remains just as relevant, if not even more so than a year ago. The past year has been another that came with changes, challenges, opportunities, and the unexpected… and this vacation has been another week of reflection, perspective, and seeking clarity, though this year a little more on a personal level than usual. Time passes, things change, but the message stays the same. Enjoy!

 

I just returned from a short vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC. Myrtle Beach is a place that I’ve visited many, many times over the years, both with family and friends. It’s one of the first family vacations I went on when I was a little girl, and it has continued to be a place that I’ve returned to over the years, through various stages of my life…as a kid, a teenager, a young adult on my first vacation on my own, and more recently with extended family, including my niece and nephews. 

The beauty of returning to somewhere that you’ve visited many times, at various stages of your life, is that it remains a constant – relatively unchanged – no matter how much your life changes from one visit to the next. So I find these periodic visits to be the perfect opportunity to reflect on those life changes. As I walk the shores of the beach that I’ve walked so many times, I have the chance to think about just exactly what is different in my life since my last visit…for the better, for the worse, and for the, well, just different.

But it’s not just an opportunity to reflect on what has changed since the last visit, it’s also an opportunity to speculate about what could be different by the next time. Each time I’m there, before I leave, I take a moment to enjoy a view of the ocean and appreciate where I am at that moment, but also to wonder where exactly my life might be by the next time I return. And each time I do that, I’m often amazed at exactly how much IS different since the last time…the people who have come into or left my life, the losses I’ve experienced, the successes I’ve enjoyed, the opportunities I’ve had both personally and professionally, the direction my life has taken…many of these changes being things I never would have or could have expected. And though many times change is something we can’t necessarily anticipate, moments like these can also serve as a time to reflect on what we KNOW we want to change in the future. 

What does this have to do with HR or business?  

In the hectic rush of our days, weeks, and years, I wonder how many of us take those moments to reflect on how far we’ve come and where we want to go?  To really appreciate exactly how much we’ve accomplished over a finite period of time, and exactly what more we’d like to do over that next finite period of time? Many of us talk about “three year plans” or “five year plans” but do we effectively take time in the midst of those plans to stop for a reality check? To re-calibrate the plan as needed? Or to just stop and appreciate the wonder of the unexpected places that fate sometimes takes us beyond what we had planned?

What about you? Do you stop to reflect? Do you have a constant place where you can go to appreciate where life has taken you and think about the future?

And as HR professionals, do we encourage our employees to do the same? Is reflection, planning, and re-calibration part of our career planning processes?

 

 About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

 


You Already Know What To Do

Posted on August 4th, by Rowena Morais in On My Mind, Personal & Professional Development. 1 Comment

You’ve surely come to the conclusion, at many points in your career, that your job is one of the toughest jobs around. Managing people, or more rightly, inspiring and growing people, is what you do. You don’t really want to manage people, and understandably enough, no one wants to be managed.

So, you’re really caught between a rock and a hard place.

What is this realm of people management really about? Sure, there’s a lot of terminology floating around, lots of buzz words, to get caught up in. There are futurists predicting trends and surveys and reports on all kinds of data.

We are not short on data.

So, between you and me, let me tell you a little secret. It’s a secret because you don’t always want to admit this to anyone else, let alone yourself. But it’s a secret that needs to be let out.

 

You already know what to do

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

You have ideas

You just need to act on them. You cannot wait till you get enough people to see the vision you have for your team, for your organisation. If they all did see that vision, you wouldn’t be where you are right now. So stop waiting for inspiration or a big push to move forward. Give yourself the push you need. Bring that dream you have to life.

 

You are scared

You need to push through anyway. No one ever promised it would be easy and nothing worthwhile, strong, sacred or good ever is. But you cannot let the fear overwhelm you. As it grows, it will overtake anything else in its way and you will be a shadow of your former self.

This is what courage truly is – to be scared and to do it anyway. So embrace the fear. Accept it as part of the journey.

 

You already know what to do.

 

You don’t know what they think but you need only ask

There’s a fine balance between relying on your own intuition and and calling on the expertise of others. But the one thing you need to remember is that you do not have to have all the answers. You can ask, and if you do so, with compassion, integrity, honest determination and a real desire to know the truth, the answers will come to you.

Help may indeed come from the most unexpected places in your journey.

 

You don’t know where to start but that’s not your problem

There’s no guidebook for the trip you are about to take. There never will be. Even in situations where there are similarities in the journey or experience, there are still significant things that make the difference. So knowing there is no go-to manual, you are understandably nervous about starting this journey.

But this journey will be long and eventful. The problem does not lie in knowing where to start – the problem is simply getting started.

 

You already know what to do.

 

What’s in your bag of tricks?

Your journey – the years of experience cease to matter when compared to the lessons learnt so far. The ones you’ve held dear to you will help you. So keep your eyes and ears open to what comes your way.

Your determination – ask yourself how badly you want to bring your vision to life. And if its as strongly felt as I think it is, you just need to make a start. That first step is the hardest one to make yet it is pivotal.

Your curiosity – you have a goal, you have a plan for getting there. You know you will be checking everything, no stone left unturned.

Your consistent manner – this is not for the foolhardy. You’re going to get on this journey and you know what you need to do before you see the results you are gunning for.  You are prepared to wait, to endure, to persevere.

Your flexibility – you know that the plan is merely one of the first few steps to beginning the journey. But plans can, and should, be changed as and when they need to. You understand that, you are happy to pivot.

Ultimately, you are the best person to bring the vision you have for your team, for your organisation, to reality.  So, go forth and make it happen.

 

Photo Credit

 

About the Author: Rowena Morais is the Editor of VerticalDistinct.com, helping individuals develop their professional abilities and career to the fullest in either Human Resources or Technology. She is also Editor of the quarterly human resource magazine, Accelerate. She graduated from the University of Glamorgan, Wales with an LL.B (Hons) and is a regular blogger on personal growth.

LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+


Bereavement Leave FAILS When It Comes to Flexibility

Posted on July 14th, by Donna Rogers, SPHR in Business and Workplace, On My Mind. 2 comments

When you’re managing employees and they have a death in the family of someone who has been sick for a while and they have made you aware of the situation, what do you do? Worse yet, what do you do when an employee calls you on their way out of town to tell you that their brother was killed the night before by a hit and run driver?  They continue to tell you the reason they are heading out of town immediately, before any funeral plans are announced, is that their brother’s wife is in critical condition in the hospital.  The oldest daughter of her sister-in-law who is dealing with the loss herself and worrying about the condition of her mother needs help. The employee has no idea when the funeral will be, let alone where her brother’s body is at the moment, and what will come of the criminal case surrounding the hit and run.  What do you do when you take a look at the bereavement leave policy and it says “up to 3 or 5 days,” depending on location of the funeral and how close the deceased is to the employee?

 

Well this very thing happened to me, but luckily I didn’t really have a boss to report to other than cancelling one of the classes I was scheduled to teach and holding it online instead of in person. Thankfully, I had an independent contractor I could lean on for my outstanding consulting projects.  I’m not saying things didn’t get lost in the shuffle because I did miss responding to emails and phone calls for a couple months due to trying to stay caught up with what is current when I finally got back.  Had I been working a job that restricted the amount of time I took off, I am sure in many cases my job would be in jeopardy or gone upon my return.  Since my brother was dead, I would not have had Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to fall back on either.  My sister-in-law doesn’t fall on the covered list of “immediate family members,” plus she had her kids to take care of her.  So the boss would have had their hands tied on what flexibility they could lend to this horrible situation. Even the military exigency leave would not have been applicable, even though my brother did retire with over 20 years of service to the US Air Force.

 

The long and short of it is that I was actually out of commission, so to speak, for about three weeks.  Out of commission for me is that I physically was not able to be present for a typical bricks and mortar 9-5 job, but I did work while I was away through mobile devices, and was able to keep up with the critical parts of my jobs as instructor and consultant.  The problem is most employees don’t have that flexibility nor do their managers understand the intricate details of what the employee is going through.  That is why I am writing this post because I too would never have understood an employee having to be away for that long without actually having gone through it myself.  Perhaps if managers read this they will have an open mind and open heart to what the employee is going through.  A paradigm shift, if you will.

 

You see the following had to be done, and was done, with the help of my niece and nephew primarily:

  • Visit sister-in-law to see how she was doing and what I could do to help (repeat daily with updates)
  • Find the body and get permission to have it sent post autopsy to the funeral home
  • Visit the crash site to see how this happened in person and collect personal belongings thrown all around the site due to the vehicle flipping
  • Since the driver had not come forward, have a sign made and erected along the edge of the highway near the crash site asking for information
  • Participate in TV interviews and share them on social media to help get the word out about the vehicle the authorities were looking for based on eye witness accounts of the incident
  • Visit his workplace to get details going regarding final check, insurance, retirement and pick up his personal belongings
  • Research how to obtain a copy of the autopsy needed for the insurance and get his wife’s signature and fax
  • Meet with the funeral home to set up the local funeral, service back home, and burial back home (with many calls and email follow-ups)
  • Pick up his uniform and take to the dry cleaner then to the funeral home
  • Stop by the highway patrol office to get copies of accident reports needed for the insurance so the funeral could be paid for
  • Meet with the district attorney to get permission to obtain his personal belongings from the vehicle at the impound lot
  • Meet with the state trooper at the impound lot to see the vehicle mangled and retrieve all personal belongings
  • Research possibilities for transportation of the body from one state to another to include a military escort from the service to the grave site
  • Keep out-of-town family members up-to-date on progress so they could eventually make flight plans
  • Coordinate pictures and videos to be taken in all three locations for his widow since she was still in the hospital and could not attend
  • Go through his personal belongings at his home and garage to bring meaningful memorabilia to the funeral home for the services
  • Collect pictures from family members representing all 46 of his years to develop a slideshow for the services
  • Pull music that was meaningful to him for the background of the slide show and edit and reedit (multiple times) to work correctly
  • Attend the funeral, transport the body, attend the local service and bury him
  • Return to go through his things with his widow upon her release from the hospital so his garage could be cleaned out and mail sentimental things to his mother, brother and nephew

Now that is certainly all I can remember now four months out so I am sure I have missed some things.  As a manager you must not just see this list as a tactical “to do” list, you have to consider the psychological impact each of these tasks and toll it has on the employee.  For weeks I was go, go, go but a couple days after the burial, it finally hit me.  He was dead! He was never coming back! His killer is still at large! I couldn’t even get out of bed for two days straight.  I had to see a doctor to help me emotionally because it was affecting me physically.  Now how much time do you think all this should take? Three to five days is a joke and is not a one size fit all policy that will work for every employee situation.

Thank you for reading and I hope I make a difference in how you see a similar situation in your employee’s future.

 

Photo Credit

About the Author: Donna Rogers, SPHR aka @HRWarrior. Donna is a full time Instructor at University of Illinois at Springfield, owner of Rogers HR Consulting and the immediate past Director of the Illinois State Council of SHRM. She has over 20 years in the HR field and currently teaches Human Resources Management, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Development, and Strategic HR Management. She practices what she teaches for almost 100 clients in the central Illinois area.


To Be, Or Not To Be…. “Ballsy?”

Posted on June 23rd, by Jennifer Payne in On My Mind. 3 comments

I recently found myself involved in an online discussion with some colleagues regarding the use of the term “ballsy.”  Let me set the stage: one colleague posted a link to an article and suggested that the content of it was “ballsy” considering the platform used.  A female colleague agreed.  Another male colleague pointed out that the use of the term “ballsy” could be perpetuating a sexist stereotype.  A discussion ensued as to whether or not that term was bothersome to women, and if it, in fact, perpetuated a sexist stereotype.

My contribution to the discussion was that I’ve known women who in fact had bigger said anatomy than some men….figuratively speaking, of course.  To me, the term has never bothered me, I’ve often used it myself, and it never really occurred to me that it could be perceived as sexist.  My friend and colleague Rayanne Thorn, said the following:

 

I guess I’m pretty “cocky” AND “ballsy” when I need to be.

…it doesn’t bother me.

I’m more bothered by the cat calls when I walk my dog or a Service Manager at my car dealership telling me, “perhaps your husband should bring the car in.”

Maybe women have to be cocky and ballsy in order to garner respect from certain men.
This discussion got me thinking about a few issues surrounding the terminology.

 

Ballsy or Gutsy?

Is the term “ballsy” inherently sexist?  As women, should the term bother us?  Should we insist on instead being referred to as gutsy?  Or fearless?  Or daring?  Do those words convey the same meaning, or is there a nuance to ballsy that we should embrace if we are, in fact, referred to as such?

Is it demeaning for a women to be called ballsy in that it implies that we are somehow trying to attain the standard of a man that we would not normally reach?  That such a level of daring in inherent to men and not women?

 

The Real Issue?

Or is the real issue what Rayanne referenced; that women in some instances NEED to be cocky, ballsy, or whichever word you may choose to command respect from some men.  That there are still men in the world that objectify women, continue to see us as a lesser sex in regards to certain issues, or refuse to see us as equals.

I don’t believe that’s the case with most men.  The men I choose to surround myself with, those whom I call friends, my family members….they are respectful and appreciative of successful and accomplished women.  I have been fortunate to have lived and worked in such environments where I haven’t felt implications of gender inequality.  But clearly there are still some who, intentional or not, make it necessary for women to embrace their cocky, ballsy, or gutsy side.   Does the ability to be ballsy put us on more of a level playing field with these types of men and do we need to embrace being so in such circumstances?

 

The Gender Equality Debate

The debate about gender equality in the workplace continues to rage on.  Women are under-represented in C-level roles.  Gender pay gaps still exist.  Women have to conform to men’s way of “playing the game” in order to gain respect, or struggle with “old boys networks” in some companies and industries.  Does the use of words such as ballsy or cocky perpetuate these issues, or should we embrace the ability to be so when we need to?  Are we too focused on the words used, rather than the approach required in some instances and the mindset that makes it a necessity?  What’s the real issue here?

 

As I mentioned earlier, the term has never bothered me.  I admire and respect the strong, successful women around me who have the guts to stand up for what they believe.  I hope that the men I associate with both personally and professionally respect me for my accomplishments.  Generally, I haven’t needed to be ballsy in many situations.  But if I had to, it wouldn’t bother me to be called out as such.

 

What do you think?  Are you bothered by such terminology or do you embrace it? 

 

Photo credit

 

About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR, SHRM-SCP has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent acquisition and development in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.