Women Can't Do Anything Right!
This sentiment is a belief I grew up with and entered the workplace with fully controlling my life. Of course, as a brand new college graduate entering the workforce I had no idea of its power and influence over me. I could not pinpoint nor did I know to look for such a belief that truly was debilitating at times and, if allowed, could have limiting affects on ones career success. All of that did not even show up on my radar until I was well into my career and actually quite successful. Little did I know it actually acted as a driver because I wanted nothing more to prove it was wrong.
As the first to graduate high school and college in my immediate family, I was an independent, semi-confident, hard working young lady that saw no boundaries. I looked at life as a challenge and had no doubts that anything or anyone would ever get in my way. So how can such a person have such a belief deeply embedded in her personality? Sometimes your deepest fear is your biggest motivator, but there are people who could have lived a very different life. Those are the people who let such beliefs eat away at them and affect their job performance as well as their personal and professional relationships. I was a lucky one. Well not really, because I have constantly had to work against that belief with positive self-talk. My professional career success has helped me have balance in my life when the rest of my life was falling apart.
I did not realize this belief even existed until I was around 30 years old and I attended a multi-week self-help seminar (supposedly a management development program) with my boss and my boss's boss. Odd combination of classmates when your deepest-darkest fears are allowed to come out and play. And play is what that belief has done for the remaining years of my life. Although, now that I am aware I have more control and can limit its affect on my life. Admittedly, I have definitely lost control on multiple occasions but the time frames are shorter and the relationships I have are deeper. So luckily forgiveness has been my savior. Not just my own about myself but also those I have hurt or reacted negatively toward because of my internal defense mechanisms. You know the whining voice in your head that says " I am WOMAN and I can do this right, I dare you to think or say anything that deny's that truth." When it affects my relationships I can more quickly put a halt to it and apologize versus blame the other person like I use to do more often. If my friends are reading this you may bring to mind certain interactions and say to yourself "Oh, that's why she went crazy that time". LOL!?
You see, my belief stemmed from childhood as I continuously overheard comments related to my biological mother, step-mother, and my fathers now widow. The comments were not positive (almost never) and the words in this title were used quite often. Women drivers, co-workers in the office, and other family members of the same gender were also often ridiculed as well as both of the grandmother's I knew as a child.
The ridicule was not always in person. Often it was behind their back but certainly close enough and loud enough for young ears to hear and internalize. As you can imagine, more directly, "I" could never do anything right. I could not pick up the yard, make dinner, clean the house, care for my brothers, etc. "right"! (i.e. correctly). Not that I was a child or anything and should have been focused on school work and having friends (said sarcastically). You see, I started taking care of such things above that had previously been known as "woman's work" when I was just 12 years old. It continued through my 20th year when I moved out on a whim because I was so fed up with the lack of positive recognition for all that I was actually doing right. If I heard one more negative comment about me or any women, well who knows what I might have said or done.
Things like earning good grades, being a positive influence on my younger siblings, working outside the home to earn my own way through college, keeping the house, cooking dinner every night, answering the phone, etc. Growing up with so much negativity is bound to put a damper on ones personality and interactions at work as well as at home. We all know one heavily influences the other.
Long story short...my priority all during my teens was my family. If my predecessors could not do any of those chores right, I likely was set up for failure from the very start. How many of us, as managers, hire people into a position without the skills to successfully do the job? How many co-workers, managers, friends, family do you know that are bright, successful and most of the time fun to be around, who have a defense as long as a football field? Have you ever wondered why? Have you ever shown empathy to that person? Have you tried not to judge them? Will you forgive them?
Why do I share all this? Because, one should
-never judge a book by its cover
-always give a person the benefit of the doubt
-be understanding, be real, be authentic, be present, and above all be yourself
-realize perception is not always reality, and communication received is not always the intent
-get to know people as humans
-believe no one is ever perfect, not even yourself
In my humble opinion, the workplace needs to create an environment where employees can be real as long as they are respectful. They should develop managers who have potential even if they have flaws. Give an employee a chance to redeem themselves . Help them figure out what those flaws are and give them the tools to put them to work in a positive way that can help then make a difference for those around them.
No one is perfect, so as long as they are not in denial they can work it out. If you too are a victim of this horrible sentiment, please realize it can only be true if you let it. AND if it's coming out of someone else's mouth who is attempting to make you believe it, SHOUT OUT: #BULLSHIT -- walk away and never look back!
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.
“If you limit yourself to what’s comfortable, you deny yourself what’s possible.”
This week I’m at the 2014 New York State SHRM Conference in my hometown of Buffalo. At the time I’m writing this, we’re about three quarters of the way through the conference and have seen four of the five keynote speakers. As you’d expect, and as is typical of conferences such as these, the keynote speakers had numerous what we would call “tweetable moments” – tidbits of information that translate very easily into 140 or less character tweets. These are typically key ideas and calls to action, and if you search the #NYSHRM14 hashtag you’ll see many of them. But amid all of the ideas shared by the speakers, I keep coming back to the one above. This particular nugget came from Sunday night’s keynote Dan Thurmon, who entertained the crowd with his juggling and unicycling skills while encouraging us to live life “Off Balance on Purpose.”
I think this idea resonates so much with me because it’s something that is so easy to forget. We get comfortable. We tell ourselves that this comfort equals happiness. But does it? Is it happiness, or is it complacency? I was reminded of Robin Roberts in her keynote at SHRM National this year, when she encouraged attendees to be thankful and grateful for what we have, but never, ever get content; always ask yourself if you’re ready for something more, something bigger.
The danger when we get complacent is that we stop challenging ourselves. We convince ourselves it’s good enough. It’s easy. It’s routine. We’re happy. Right? Right?? Or are we really just complacent?
In our personal and professional lives, in the midst of the frenetic pace many of us maintain, sometimes it’s just easier to be content with where we are. Life’s pace can get tiring, and it becomes easy to say we don’t have the energy to push ourselves further. It’s too much effort. And besides, we’re happy. We have the right balance. But as Dan Thurmon reminded us, there is no such thing as sustainable perfect balance…and even if there was, it would get boring fast.
Are we happy? Is the illusion of balance really making us happy? Or again, is it simply complacency?
When we’re complacent, we stop learning, we stop growing… we stop bettering ourselves, our lives, our companies, our personal situations.
Are we actually ready for more? Do we deserve better?
Tuesday morning’s keynote Mark Murphy, author of “Hundred Percenters” aligned with this message by reminding us that “no great accomplishment happens within our comfort zone.” Great accomplishments are hard, require learning something new, and require pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone. We can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without effort, without pushing outside what we know and what we’re comfortable with, without stepping into a little uncertainty. I think that goes for each of us in both our personal and professional lives. Keynote speaker Jennifer McClure shared with us a personal story about how and why should “step out” – to face fears, uncertainty, and even naysayers and just go for it; to believe in ourselves and take risks to strive for bigger and better things.
Stepping out can be scary….but I think it’s worth it.
So I ask you, what are you ready to do? What are you going to change? What are you going to stop just accepting? As HR professionals. As business people. As humans.
How are you going to embrace possibility?
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management 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.
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 has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management 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.
Honesty is best but there are times when you can and should choose to refrain. There’s always levels of complexity involved and there is the risk of appearing hypocritical. Also, you have to choose what to be honest about. I don’t think that your goal of maintaining honesty should mean a complete and thorough application of the principle regardless… although I realize that the more exceptions there are to the rule, the more the rule gets a bit hazy.
But here’s what I do know.
I have, to the best of my ability, tried to live an honest life, in that I tried to be true to my goals, desires and emotion. I worked hard at ensuring a meeting of minds between my mental and emotional state and the actions resulting thereof.
I had to. I could not live any other way.
As far as I could, I wanted to be authentic in my communications and relationships. It was necessary for me to be truthful, to the point of pain, about what I saw, what I felt, what I believed, even if it was at odds or brought conflict to bear in a given situation.
Honesty, in this case, was therefore merely an alignment between my thoughts and my actions. Living a lie, where what I thought was distinct from my actions, would prove too difficult to endure or to sustain.
I have, in recent times, been privy to two sets of close relationships where I see that honesty is critical to the nature of the relationship. I have seen how inaction or uncertainty about how to respond in a given situation can be taken as acquiescence of the current status quo. I have seen how silence can be taken as tolerance or worse still, willingness.
These situations and relationships, and how people make sense of it all, take years to develop. Like an onion, it is built layer upon layer and the demarcation is blurred.
You owe it to yourself to be honest. So that you can move on, so that you can achieve the life and relationships you deserve to have. Yes, it is scary to realize the potential negative reactions that we could be called on to face, and sometimes, we will need to face this, all alone.
But in our quest for a life that is true and authentic, for relationships that are based on something meaningful and deep, for decisions that are anchored in something sturdy and substantial, we need to aim for honesty.
If only so that we can reconcile our desires and needs with our actions.
If only for us to live a life with minimal regret.
If only to make real impact on those around us.
Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource professionals. She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as oversight on client training and corporate functional areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at email@example.com.
I live in Indiana. It’s February, typically considered a winter month (you might hear a little cynicism in my words…). And it’s snowy. Albeit, there’s much more snow here than we’ve had in recent years, but is that really a surprise?
I was scheduled to attend a local seminar tomorrow. I am a “nerd” and enjoy learning, especially if it will help me be a better HR professional, coach, &/or person. I always like to get another trainer’s perspective & I am familiar with this speaker – who I consider to be excellent, so I was looking forward to it. I got an email yesterday morning indicating it had been postponed until late this month. Our “weather” hadn’t even hit yet, although forecasters had been prognosticating a new “snowpocalypse” for days. And I saw or heard it everywhere I turned – Facebook, Twitter, television, radio.
The weather predictions appeared to be coming true by mid-afternoon yesterday and lots of snow began falling. Our company began monitoring in order to make prudent business decisions about closing or delaying opening today. As weather often does, it appeared to taper off last evening, and yet, the social media and television continued to “blow up” with news and details of “snowpocalypse.” It’s no wonder people overreact – the worse-case-scenarios are played out on every avenue of communication.
My husband was up early today, and was out snow-blowing our drive, and our neighbors, long before any county snow plow would have considered coming down our road. I got to thinking about all of this after getting the 5:55AM email that our business would open as usual today. It seems like everyone is preparing for the worse-case scenario, instead of preparing so it won’t be. Does that make sense?
What I mean is, it seems with the advent of social media and immediate news feeds, we tend to take on almost a ‘victim’ mentality. The weatherman predicts weather, everyone posts it on their statuses or news feeds, we all run to the store for bread, milk, and perhaps some adult beverages, and then we wait for the weather, sometimes predicting early that we can’t make it in. Often, the weather doesn’t end up being near as scary as predicted, and yet, many are paralyzed by the thought of that ‘worse-case scenario.”
What happened to simply preparing for the weather – extra layers of clothing, getting up early to shovel, snow-blow, scrape the car windows, leaving earlier than usual in order to get to work.
I do not remember a day that my Dad & Mom didn’t get up and go to work. Dad owned his own business, Mom worked at the local university, and no matter the weather, they got up, prepared for it, and went to work. Why are we any different today? We have better gadgets – snow blower, automatic car starters, warmer clothing and such, along with better prediction information – and yet, we aren’t preparing for the rigors of getting up and going to work, we are preparing for the worse.
Kind of like my seminar planned for tomorrow. I’m bummed. It seems like with a little preparation, the seminar might have been able to happen. Maybe not, depending on the speaker schedule and travel location, but it feels like we prepared for the worst, instead of preparing for the best.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone to endanger themselves to get to work. Yet, before our social media, did our parents and prior generations know better, prepare better, have a better work ethic? I don’t think so. I think they just used good common sense and prepared – for the best. Without all the “noise” from social media and news 24/7 on television, radio and streaming through our laptops and other devices, people simply prepared. Perhaps they had more time….
About the Author: Dorothy Douglass is Vice President of Human Resources & Training at MutualBank, an Indiana-based financial institution. She began her career with Mutual in 2001 as Human Resources Manager, and is a graduate of Ball State University. She is proud to have been in Human Resources now for more than 17 years and is continuing to “lean in” and working to influence the “people management” side of her organization. She is passionate about managing and developing people; and I have yet to be bored in 13+ years in her current job. She considers herself fairly tech-UN-savvy, though has immersed herself in Facebook and LinkedIn. She’s still working on the Twitter-sphere & has goals to blog more in 2014.
The month of November and Thanksgiving holiday are a natural time to reflect on those things for which we are thankful. Not that thanks and appreciation should be limited to just one month per year, but it’s when it becomes front and center for many. Amongst being thankful for friends, family, security, and a roof over my head, there are many things from a professional perspective for which I’m grateful as well. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the parts of our jobs that irritate or annoy us, so I thought I’d take a moment to focus on the career-related things for which I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for parents who raised me to have an appreciation for the satisfaction of working towards something, rather than waiting for things to be handed to me. That’s a value I’ve carried with me into my adult life, a value which set the stage for me to pursue an education and a career, ultimately allowing me to make a contribution to something beyond myself and support the life I love. I’m proud that I’m a woman who has the ability and ambition to provide for myself. I’m grateful that I like to work and enjoy being busy, and that I’ve been taught that there’s a difference between laziness and well-deserved downtime. I’ve learned to recognize when downtime and recharging is necessary and justified, but that true laziness isn’t productive or an acceptable way to live my life.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a company filled with employees who understand the value of an honest day’s work. They’ve taught me what it means to hustle and have pride in a job well done, no matter how simple or menial the task may seem to someone else. You don’t always need to be changing the world to be proud of what you do; sometimes the smallest gesture can make a difference.
I’m grateful to work for a leadership team whose actions embody the meaning of commitment. Commitment to the business, to the communities in which we operate, and to the people who make the company what it is. They inspire me, every day.
I’m grateful to have worked for people who’ve invested in me, and allowed me to grow and develop in my career, and for those who saw something in me early on and encouraged me down the path I’ve taken. I can’t imagine not having taken the path I did or how different my life would be if I had taken another. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, for those that didn’t pan out that ultimately kept me on my path, and thankful for where I am right here, right now.
I’m grateful for the phenomenal network of colleagues and connections that make up my professional network, for those in my network who have also become friends, and for everyone who generously shares their knowledge and experiences and makes me a better HR professional, and better person, every day.
I’m grateful for a career that allows me to have an impact on people. I’ll never forget when years ago, a few weeks after one particular training class I facilitated, having a participant approach to tell me how something I said in the class changed his entire outlook on life. As HR pros, we have the opportunity to have this kind of impact every day, sometimes with just the simplest of actions or a few right words at the right time.
Do you often enough stop to count your blessings? What are you grateful for today?
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management 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.
Looking for a life-impacting role for HR? Explore the opportunity you can use to save lives and life styles. I am talking about the life skills and balancing of life decisions of both your employees and their spouses.
My mom’s cousin lost her husband in the last year. In her grief and lack of education, she ignored the opportunity to keep her insurance and other benefits going. She has now had a stroke and may need brain surgery. I don’t want to go into the healthcare debate; I want you to think about the people and the impact a little education and/or policy changes could make.
What if her insurance and benefits could have continued automatically, paid out of her survivor benefits? This could at least have happened for a reasonable “grief” period, when there are so many decisions to make.
Let’s go beyond insurance and jump to life skills discussion. Want to increase family engagement? What about addressing the often ignored factors of estate planning and organizational skills? 85% of households have one spouse solely responsible for bills and paperwork. How can you help employees and their spouses, regardless of which one is the household operator, understand the critical necessity of cross training or at least strong organization of these processes. It can be touchy, but in many cases, it would be very welcome to have tools and discussion facilitated.
This issue is gender and socio-economically diverse. Think about it. Think about your mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparent, spouse. Who is going to be impacted by a tragedy compounded by complexity of new skill requirements, or financial messes that have never been shared?
You can make a difference.
Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children’s books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.
And so it continues. Miley Cyrus, who has become everyone’s favorite person to trash on the internet over the last several months, popped up this past weekend on Saturday Night Live where she did her schtick (it has become a schtick, btw) of rolling her tongue around on the side of her mouth while flashing some sort of pop star gang sign with her long lacquered fingernails.
I still don’t get it although, to be fair, I think she does. It appears she’s moved into self-deprecating territory and, thankfully I guess, has quickly become a parody of herself.
One bit of good has arisen from all the Miley chatter though in that it has served as yet another catalyst for cultural discussions on feminism, women and the patriarchal culture in which we still live.
- Gloria Steinem has chimed in. A few weeks ago at the Women’s Media Awards, Le Steinem, when asked if she thought some of Miley’s recent activities were setting the feminist movement back, answered “I don’t think so. I wish we didn’t have to be nude to be noticed, but given the game as it exists, women make decisions.” (Blame to society)
- Sinead O’Connor, who learned that Miley claimed her “Wrecking Ball” video was based on O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to U” video, wrote an open letter to Miley in which she said “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.” (note – as of this writing, the open letter has been removed from O’Connor’s website but you can read the full letter here). (Blame to Miley. And sort of to society).
Now I don’t think many of us can argue that the global society in which we live is patriarchal; centuries and eons have laid that foundation. And while I’m all for making money and being a capitalist there is, at the core of capitalism, a whiff (just a whiff) of male privilege as evidenced by the fact that it’s usually a bunch of rich white men who are calling the shots. And those are the same dudes who dictate, to a fairly large extent, what women can and/or should do. Miley is just going along and playing the game the best she can in the world in which we live.
But should she? Or, perhaps the better question to ask becomes “is it even a game that’s being played?”
Feminism is about providing equal opportunities for women yet it empowers men as well as women by allowing all of us to cast aside pre-conceived notions of “the way things should be.” It allows us as women (not the men who are in power) to determine what is best for us and ensures that we all have the freedom to make our own choices. Sometimes it takes the collective group to get those options on the table in the first place (i.e., the right to vote, have equal funding for sports) and sometimes it’s individuals making a decision for themselves about how they want to live their lives. Shall I wear pants or dresses? Have short or long hair? Enter the workforce or be a stay at home parent? Use an IUD or the Birth Control pill?
While I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Miley’s spank-fest on the VMA awards I fully supported her right to do it. She sparked some discussion. And while crappy teddy-bear costumes may not be cause for revolution one spark can start a fire – or at least keep it burning.
So yeah – if Gloria, Sinead and Miley walked into a bar I would certainly buy all of them a drink; and that’s not just a punch line.
Disclaimer: I am no fan of Ms. Cyrus although I do admit to finding “Party in the USA” strangely intoxicating and have, on occasion, found myself singing along.
As an executive, we have two assets which rival as to which is most valuable to us. Both our time and our team are the two most critical components in achieving our objectives, personally and collectively. This article is going to focus on our time and a few suggestions on how to get the greatest return on our time.
As true transformational leaders, in order to accomplish our mission, it is critical we spend our time doing the right things. We know this; yet, we often struggle with what is most important, how to prioritize, and how to keep our eye on the ball when distractions arise which they invariably do.
A few thoughts to consider and discipline ourselves around:
1. Manage and filter the interruptions
I recently read an article which touted that we spend only about 10 minutes on a task before we are interrupted by various issues. How can we curb these interruptions? What if we turned off our phones, asked our team to do the same, and instill a mutual respect for ‘sacred time’ to actually get work done? What if we actually say ‘no’ when these distractions arise? I know what you are thinking, how can we say no to our bosses? I am certainly not suggesting that is the standard answer every time; however, there are scenarios in which we must say no. A book I have found especially helpful, The Power of the Positive No, gives excellent tips on how to say ‘yes’ while saying ‘no,’ while preserving a strong relationship with the other party. Check it out.
2. Stop the multi-tasking.
Many studies actually state that multi-tasking is one of the worst things we can do to maintain brain health. The sad reality is that the trend for multi-tasking is going up not down. With the increase of smart phones, email, texting, working mothers, and the quest for ‘work/life balance,’ the quest for balance has led to just doing more at one time, versus prioritizing and saying ‘no.’ One study has actually stated that our IQ’s can fall as much as 10 points when we are juggling so many projects. Of course, that leads to ineffective leadership, production, and overall results. We need to make a commitment to stop the multi-tasking. We need to focus. We need to choose one project to work on at a time. We need to have one centered conversation at a time. We need to leave our phones in the car or at least turn it off when meeting or visiting with another person. Let’s show them the respect they deserve, and that we would want, if we were in their shoes.
3. Focus and stay disciplined to the chosen priorities.
This is where it gets tough. Everyone is pulling on us to do ‘this, that, or the other’ now! I get it. What I know for sure is that if we allow everyone else’s priorities to dictate 100% how and when we spend our time, we will never get where we want to go. Period. We have to be ruthlessly determined to focus on what we believe we need to do to achieve our goals. We have to plant our flag as to where we are going, determine our plans and our goals on how we are going to get there, and then, publicly state where and how we are going to spend our time to get there. By stating the ‘what and the how’ of where we are going publicly, it makes it much easier to say ‘no’ when distractions arise.
4. Feng shui your office and your mind.
This is probably the single most effective way to help clarify where to spend your time. Recently, I spent time (yes, the asset in which we are discussing) completely clearing out my office, my outdated files, and my next month and second half plans for the remainder of 2013. I found myself struggling to keep up with all the projects I have underway, and my ’piles’ and ‘folders’ were simply not working for me anymore. I was frustrated, stressed out, and was working every weekend trying to keep up. Sure, we all have our way of organizing, which is up to you. My point is to just do it. Organizing papers, searching for contacts and not having a clear way to find information can simply exhaust and zap our mojo. Recently, I revisited Stephen Covey’s First Things First to develop a leadership development workshop, and it was a fabulous refresher.
At the end of the day, it takes guts to make the hard calls as to where to spend our time, and when to say ‘no.’ It is all about declaring where we want to go, deciding what are the few key things we must do to get there, and prioritizing how we will get these things done. Then, we must continue to verbalize this to ourselves and our troops to keep us focused, committed and to avoid the distractions which are guaranteed to present themselves.
About the Author: Kristin Kaufman is founder of Alignment, Inc.™, formed in 2007 to help individuals, corporations, boards of directors and non-profits find alignment within themselves and their organizations. A prolific writer, Kristin’s first book, Is This Seat Taken?, centers on her global experiences seeding her journey toward alignment. The book is scheduled for release in November 2011. Kristin is on Twitter as @KristinKaufman.
I love to watch my little girls sleep. They are calm, full of possibility, and not asking me to change them for the 4th time that hour into another fairy, princess, or pirate costume. As I watch, I imagine what dramas, adventures, heartbreak, and careers (I am a career coach after all!) lie ahead for both of them and it’s hard to discern what my hopes are for them and what my actual expectations are.
My free-spirited head-strong 4. 5 year old has always had a mind of her own and her attitude taught me early on that she was her own girl, with a unique personality; wonderful, and not at all a clone of her mom. This helped me pull away the layers of hopes I had dreamt up when she was 20 weeks in utero and I found out a little girl was in our future. As she took on the world through her independence, I worked hard to stop putting my aspirations or assumptions of who she would become onto her tiny little shoulders. By the time my younger daughter was born I felt that I was doing a pretty decent job of embracing the individual personalities each girl would have. That being said, I still do catch myself making offhand comments about “when Josie is CEO of a company” or “when she opens her own restaurant.” After years of watching their personalities form, I come up with careers that I think they will definitely master. Of course, these career predictions change as fast as the whims of precocious preschoolers change. So what exactly do I hope for when it comes to the lives my girls create and why do I bother to write about it?
I hope they have choices. I hope they never have to stay in situations that aren’t working for them, that aren’t helping them grow, and thrive, and laugh, and play. I hope they work (I do, I can’t help it) but I also hope they have the choice to create the work schedule and environment that brings out their best and matches the priorities they hold at any given moment. So what does this mean for me, and how I mother them? How do I help them achieve a life full of choice? I’m not quite sure but I think it involves helping them develop a love of learning so they have the education to back up their goals. I am also pretty sure it involves showing them what love is and how it never means giving up who you are, what you like, or who your friends are. I want them to choose wisely if and when they do decide to marry.
I have read countless books geared towards us working mom set, and most of them are written from the perspective of a fairly privileged, educated woman who does have the choice to either work or not, be married or not, have more children or not, schedule housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, date night etc. or not. One of the themes that seems to come through is a hint of complaint about the fact that there just are too many choices. As if moms are paralyzed by choice and opportunity, a burden the generation before us didn’t have.
Can I be candid? To me this is nonsense. Instead of lamenting the various choices we have and the way it makes us feel afraid to move, how about buck up and spend some time figuring what you want and who you are, and have the courage to be that person and pursue that goal? Take choice by the horns and run with it. You want to work part-time to have more time with your family? Figure out a way to make it work. Talk to your employer, talk to other moms who do it, create a situation that makes it possible. You want to start your own business? There is no easier time then now. Truly it will only get harder. Trust me, I work with MBA students and I have heard every counter to this argument including “ I have a newborn” to which my response is, “Do you think it will be easier when you have a full schedule of t-ball and ballet classes to take your kids too?” You want a meaningful career that involves decision making? Pursue another degree, ask for management opportunities, apply for a new job, seek out a mentor that has that role. Take proactive steps so you are creating a life that includes endless choices and a plethora of paths to venture down.
I hope this for my daughters, I seek this for myself, and I encourage it of you.
About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services. She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.
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