Win the War

This past month three different working mothers from three different backgrounds, ages, and industries approached me about a similar issue.  All three felt that they “were wronged” by their organization. Each of them was trying to understand why they were being “attacked” and what to do next. 

I did my best to objectively listen to each of them.  I asked them questions to understand what happened and to look at the situation from various perspectives.  In the end, I agreed with each of them about how they felt.  Now what? (What follows is worthy of a much longer discussion, but I’ll do my best to contain it to a blog post.)

Each woman wanted to fight. They wanted to clear their name. They wanted their company to acknowledge that they were right.

Unfortunately, in two of the women’s cases their company was not supporting them. Now what?

It’s time for a battlefield assessment. Let’s define “winning the war” as soaring as high as you can in your company (or another company).  This “war” is a long journey and will have many “battles” along the way.

In this context, each women is now in the middle of an active battle that can have an impact on their ability to “win the war”. Right now, society is telling women to fight. To stand up. To speak their voice.  And I agree that we should do all these things, especially in cases of assault. However, there are tons of other ways to be “wronged” at work. This three women had three different examples. And even though the natural reflex when you are attacked is to fight, each woman needs to complete a “battlefield assessment” about the likelihood of winning and the cost of the battle.

Only one woman has her organization’s support. Her probability of successfully winning the battle is much higher than the other two women.  The other two women need to factor in to their assessment that their organizations and/or corporate structures are not supporting them. 

Maybe it’s time to re-think their position.

Do you want to win the battle?

Or....Do you want to win the war?

Retreating, regrouping or letting it go might be the best move to win the war. I know it sounds crazy. But hear me out. Retreating is saving yourself so that you can live to fight another day.  You need to ask yourself “Do I want to ‘die’ on this battlefield for this issue?”

Each woman could continue to stand their ground and fight a good fight. Maybe that is the best action. I make no judgements. I am offering that stopping the fight is also a viable option. No one (including me) wants to back down when we’ve been wronged. However, we need to think about the cost of the battle.  You might win the battle, but it could cost you the war.  Companies, corporations, organizations are small and have long memories.  It is too easy for women to get labeled. I’ve seen it happen.

Working mothers need to win the war at the cost of an individual battle.  Soar high enough to make a difference. 

#TogetherSOARing

Battle Buddy

A few years ago the Army started a program where every soldier was given a battle buddy. The purpose of the program was to create partnerships between two people who could assist each other both in and out of the combat zone. I believe this program is a form of peer to peer mentorship. Working women need to incorporate a similar program into our lives. I’m not saying the your workplace is a combat zone, even though it may be. I am saying that if working women want to succeed, then they should have a professional support system in place. This peer to peer mentor is someone who is either going through the corporate office grind now or has already gone through it. For maximum impact, your battle buddy should be in the same or similar industry. One of the main benefits of a battle buddy is that they can relate your situation because they are living it with you.

My first battle buddy was a fellow female student in my college degree program. The first year of our college level science program was extremely difficult. I had never been challenged like that before in my academics. By the end of the first year, I could have easily given up and changed my major. But my battle buddy and I decided that they would stick together and make it through the program. Both of us successfully completed the program and graduated on time.

This same concept carries forward into the workplace. Working women need to find someone that they can talk with about things happening in their life. Finding a battle buddy in the workplace is often very difficult because you may be the only female in your office or the females in your office could care more about competition than cooperation. Whatever your circumstances are, it is important that you take the effort and find your battle buddy.

Once you find that person, you need to talk with them whenever you are doubting yourself. You should always get a second opinion from your battle buddy before you take any action based on what you don’t think you can do. Your buddy is there to talk with out about any and every item that you want. I recommend that you “keep it real” with your battle buddy. This means that if you need to laugh or cry with your battle buddy, then you feel comfortable doing so.

Climbing the corporate ladder is its own “battle”. You need someone who can help you navigate through the land mines. Ultimately, this will help you achieve your goals.


Who is your battle buddy?
Who can become your battle buddy?

Lead On

From time to time we all need reminded about some leadership principle. Recently I needed reminded that we always lead from the front even though that is one of my core tenets.  I got called out by a Colonel who I have rarely spoken to within the office. I believe that he was sent to remind me about the importance of leading, about never giving up my position, and about setting the example. He filled my tank back up and set me straight.

 Who are you holding accountable? Who is your accountability?

Leading is filled with joys and sorrows. Leading when times are great is easy. However, you learn more about leading in the challenging moments.  Whether it is with your family or at work, leading requires energy that sometimes you just don’t have. It is in those moments that it is good to have a friend, battle buddy, spouse, or Colonel pop into your life and remind you to lead on.

 Who are you encouraging to Lead On?

 

 

 

                                           

Confidence and Laughter

Working mom must have plans. Then they need to be open to the reality that those plans can change at any moment. This month there was yet another snow day where I needed to have a solution for my 2 school-aged children. The answer was for me to take them to a camp for the day.  Then I had a eureka moment and asked the vendor if all three of my kids could go for the day. I was excited for my “mom win” where I would only have 1 drop off and 1 pick up. Yes. Happy. Snow day solved. I have a plan.

I am feeling good that I will make the meeting in my office that morning. I had invited 10 people to chat with me.

When we arrive at camp, we discover that only 2 lunches made it for 3 kids. Someone forgot their lunch. What do you do? There is no time to turn back. The provider offered to take my son to the sandwich store next door, but I have no cash.  So, Option 3---off to a nearby grocery store. I look at my watch. Can I get to work on time?

I race through the grocery store like I’m on a tv show to see how fast I can fill my cart.  When I get to the checkout, I realize that I dropped my wallet in the store. Now, I must retrace my steps, find my wallet and pay. After quickly returning to the camp, all 3 kids now have a lunch. The third lunch a lot less nutritious, but still food.  I’m back on track and on my way to work.

Confidence & Laughter

Working moms need to have confidence that things will work out. We have to have confidence that we can solve the problem. There is no time to break down.

By the time I arrive at work, I was laughing at myself.  The expression on the grocery store ladies’ faces was priceless.  They were looking at all my craziness in the store without any idea about what happened or where I needed to be that morning.  I can only image what I looked like running through the store.

When I walked into the meeting at work, I chuckled again because no one there knew what happened in the previous hour.

 

Working moms---  Be Confident That You Can

                                    Keep Laughing Through the Journey

2019 and Beyond

Happy 2019.  It’s a new year with new goals.  Now is the time to finalize your goals.  This year partner with me to create new goals that will stretch and grow us.  This year I also encouraged my kids to make their own goals. Now we can work to achieve our goals together as a family. Each of our goals are individual, yet we can remain accountable to each other throughout the year.

What are your goals for 2019?  

What are your Family goals?

 My goals are bigger and broader than last year. I am going to read more and keep running and racing. I also plan to Make An Impact at work and in my community.  To accomplish these goals and reach new heights, I must assess how I spend my time. In the past I have been quick to say yes when asked to do something. I have said yes to things that were going to be very time consuming and not aligned with what I what to accomplish.  In 2019, my growth edge is to protect my time better. I am going to assess how I spend my time. I need to make sure that my actions, commitments, and energy are focused on my goals.  I need to ensure that I am prioritizing my time and taking action steps towards the direction of my goals. I have to remind myself that it is okay to say, “No.” This year’s success will depend on maximizing how I spend my  time.

How are you spending your time?

Are you actions aligned with your goals?

Make An Impact in 2019

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Enjoy the Journey

December is always a time of reflection and goal setting. I like to assess how the year went and outline what I want to accomplish in the next year. This year I did pretty good on my goals that I set a year ago. I read more books than in 2017. I ran a different set of races than I set out to run, but I ran more races than in 2017. I also added a goal of having fun this year. Yes, one of my goals this year was to have fun. I achieved this goal and believe that this goal changed my approach to 2018.

Are you Enjoying the Journey?

Being a working mother can be challenging. There will be ups and downs.  It is important to remember to Enjoy the Journey. There will be times when you are elated with your success or with you family’s success. There will be other times that you feel overwhelmed. There will be times that you are filled with laughter and joy. And there will be times that you are incredibly sad. Through all of this, Enjoy the Journey.

Are you Enjoying the Journey?

When my mind or speech is full of negative, my favorite expression to use is “pull up”. The best way to understand this expression is to think about riding a roller coaster and reaching the bottom of the decent and the coaster starting its climb back up to the top. It is pulling itself up.  It is important to realize when you are on a roller coaster going down. The coaster might even appear to be accelerating on the way down.  It is most important at this point to “pull up” and change the course of the roller coaster, your mind, and your words. Enjoy the Journey.

Are you Enjoying the Journey?

If not, maybe you need to “pull up”.  Maybe you need to add fun.  

We have to remember that we are not perfect and mistakes will happen. We have to remember that there will be ups and downs. Have some Fun.

Enjoy the Journey

What are your goals for 2019?

 

Aggressive or Assertive?

Most of you know that I work in a highly technical male-dominated field.  I am usually aware of the small number of women in my organizations and the smaller number of women in leadership roles.  Women in my organization stand out by the mere fact that there are so few of us. So I always perk my ears up when I hear a woman being labeled as aggressive.  In many situations, it appears to me that women are being assertive, but are being labeled as aggressive. The distinction between the two is determined by each individual observing the situation. Two different people in a room can observe the same situation differently.

How are you perceived?

It is pretty easy to discern when someone is being openly aggressive. However, the line between being Aggressive and being Assertive can sometimes be difficult to determine. After a recent meeting, another female officer and I were trying to determine if a third female in the room was displaying assertive or aggressive behaviors.  I concluded that she was being aggressive because 1) she was leaning forward with direct hand gestures as she talked; 2) she was jumping in the conversation and speaking on top of the presenter; and 3) she would not stop making her point. As you read my examples, you may be saying to yourself that each of the above reasons could also be used to describe an assertive person. This is why you have to observe each situation to make an assessment about aggression vs assertion. 

How are you perceived?

Women need to be aware of how our behavior is perceived by coworkers.  Once a perception or label is created, it can be challenging to change the perception.

Men and women need to not be quick to label and instead seek understanding of the person.

 

How are you perceived?

 Some suggestions to be assertive and not aggressive are:

1- Ask Questions— You can get to your point without coming across aggressive

2- Listen First — Instead of fighting to get your point across, listen to what others are saying and use their words to express your own point

3- Don’t Always Disagree — Try to find connections and build rapport. Then use the trust to build support for your position.

Which Lane for Success?

Success. Excelling. This is what we all want in our careers. However, if you are not enjoying what you are doing, success could be difficult to achieve.  Additionally, if you are not achieving the level of success you desire, it could be time to rethink what you are doing. Lastly, if you are running hard, but not moving forward, you may be in the wrong lane.

Are you in the right lane?                                                               

Am I in the right lane? I have come to a cross road in my life where I need to decide what is next for me. What lane should I get into?

If we agree that the goal is to enjoy what we do and achieve success in what we do, then we need to find a way to capitalize on our strengths and passions.  Sounds pretty simple, but can be a complicated assessment and could require a deliberate process. I recommend 3 steps to help you discover your strengths and passions and get in the success lane.  The 3 Steps lane: 1- Self Assess;  2- Actual Assessments; an  3- Ask Others.

For Step 1: Self- Assess- you need to spend some time thinking about what you like to do. Ask yourself questions like: Where have you had success in the past? What makes you happy to do? What are you good at doing?

For Step 2: Actual Assessments- you need to use tools to help you learn about yourself. I recommend the book Strengths Finders if you can pay a little money.  Find it here. Or, you can take the VIA Character-Strengths free online assessment found here. Both are great tools to get you thinking about your strengths from a different perspective.

For Step 3: Ask Others- I found this step the most interesting. Once you get past the awkwardness of asking your friends and family the question “what am I good at” you may get some really good info. It may take your friends and family a while to do their own reflecting on you, but they know you the best and can offer some great information.

Once you have all of this data, you need to spend some time thinking about all of the information. Getting in the right lane for success may not be a quick project, but it is definitely worth the time and energy if you are looking for success in an area you enjoy. This will help you get in the right lane for success.

Good Luck!

It's Not All Roses

I believe in every woman’s life, there will be times when she asks herself, “Did that just happen?” In my career, I have had a handful of experiences where I’ve had to stop and ask myself that question. Just last month, I had a male employee talk disrespectfully to me during a work meeting. Did that just happen? In a previous assignment, I had a male employee back me into a corner and yell at me. Did that just happen?

Today I had an Asian female friend recall a time where a person was surprised at the fact she spoke English “so well”. Did that just happen?

The spectrum of things that will make us ask “Did that just happen” is quite large.  The question is “What do you do in those moments?”

Sometimes things happen and you have to fight. Other times things will happen and you’ll want to fight back, but you need to weigh the consequences. Sometimes your organization will support you when you speak up, but not always. What will you do in those moments?

It’s not all roses.

I recommend that you have a group of men and women with different backgrounds that you can talk to about topics. Use them to help decide your response.  My prayer for you is that the “did that just happen” moments are outliners on your journey of success.

It’s not all roses.

What will you do in those “did that just happen” moments?

Now vs Later

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There are actions that will make us happy now versus actions that will make us happy later.

There are times in life when we have to make a choice between “being happy now” or “being happy later”. I am not taking about the normal day-to-day choices we make between now and later. I am talking about the big choices that disrupt your life. For example, you could be happy now by not taking that challenging assignment.  You could be happy now by not taking that class. When you choose happiness now, you are choosing to maintain your current comfort level.  One of the downsides to this choice is that you may have to disrupt your flow, take that assignment (or completely miss the opportunity), or eventually take that class later. 

Do you choose Now or Later?

If you decide to take that challenge, take on the disruption, sign up for that class now, you are embracing the be happy later choice.  One of the benefits on choosing to be happy later is that additional opportunities will likely materialize from making the early sacrifice.

Do you choose Now or Later?

I have done a bit of both. However, I believe that I have chosen now vs later more times.  I believe that whenever I have delayed doing something that I could have done until later, it has cost me more.  

When you are in a now vs later situation, stop and evaluate.  If it is going to be a challenge because of time, money, energy, or anything else, ask yourself, “Will it get easier later?” 

Do you choose Now or Later?