No Woman Left Behind!

I often hear women talk about their struggles with other women in the workplace … It often smells and feels a lot like hate if not absolutely so.

… the principle we used to live by and have since abandoned

Every woman knows it – “We came together and we’re all leaving together.”

It was a safety agreement, a declaration of sisterhood, a reminder that she had your back and you had hers. We lived by it – on trips, at the club, out on the town or in just about any unfamiliar situation. Honoring the code meant that you would be safe. Anyone who disregarded the code was in for harsh backlash and possible shunning from future get-togethers.

It didn’t matter whether we were out as a pair or a group of ten. No one was wandering off alone without checking in with the group. A solo trip to the restroom that took a little too long, meant a girlfriend would be coming to check on you. You could give your number to a cute guy, but you weren’t leaving with him. If you had too much to drink, a designee would make sure you got home okay. She’d even help you take off your shoes and get you into your bed if needed.

We cared for each other.

What happened?

I often hear women talk about their struggles in the workplace, I find it interesting how much distrust, jealousy and undercutting abounds. Women tell me stories of co-workers, subordinates and supervisors who challenge them unfairly, speak ill of them behind their backs, go out of their way to prevent promotion and downright scowl at any sign of deserved favor. It often smells and feels a lot like hate if not absolutely so.

Why?

We’ve either forgotten the golden rule of sisterhood or we have convinced ourselves that it doesn’t deserve space in our occupational circles. We treat the other women in our workplaces as if we’re playing for opposing teams. All is well and good as long as she stays in her lane and we can stay in ours. Heaven forbid we have to work together on a project and share the spotlight … ever! We would rather remain an island than to conform to teamwork with our declared enemy. We would prefer to be acknowledged for our own brilliance alone than recognized for greatness, while sharing the credit with another.

So, what can be done?

Let’s go back to basics. Let’s dig out the old girl code and revisit the principles that were set upon the foundation of our friendships and encouraged us to think beyond self. We should begin to have the honest conversation with ourselves about the things that don’t feel right, keep us up at night, make us uneasy and cause us to questions. We need to pinpoint what we have done to feed the spirit of competition and separation. We should be transparent with ourselves.

If you’re working in the same organization you are after all, playing for the same team! We were hired to work together, so we should work to succeed together. Tag someone that you can link arms with. Give it some serious thought and commit to it. Let her know what you are trying to accomplish and make a pact to work together instead of against each other. Just do this with one person and see where the road carries you. No matter what, keep your eye on the ultimate goal to never leave her behind. You are to lift her up, but not carry her. Liking her should not be a requirement or expectation. If you see her backed into a corner, offer a solution. When she struggles, but is too proud to ask for help, offer it with no strings attached. This is the beginning of our growth and the stretching that molds us into effective leaders.

Don’t just think about it, go and put it to work TODAY. In this era of #metoo, we should expect more and be willing to do more to support one another on all levels.

Receiving the Gift of Growing Pains

The “stretch of life” is hard, uncomfortable, sometimes unbearable, but necessary. These seasons are the cornerstones of our testimonies.

anton-van-der-weijst-603824-unsplashBeing in an uncomfortable spot in life is like wearing a dress that is too snug. You’d almost rather stand up and be awkwardly stable than to risk sitting down and busting that sucker wide open! Life is like that sometimes. One day, your shoes fit and the next day, they don’t. You can become accustomed to the hustle and bustle until you’ve had enough and would rather make the trade for peace and quiet. We may love our jobs until the day we become aware of what we’ve sacrificed to maintain it.

Growing pains are necessary. Think of it as the “stretch of life.” It’s those periods of discomfort, uncertainty, fatigue and anxiety that drive us toward change. If it weren’t so, we would stay in our small boxes way longer than meant to be. The hermit crab eventually becomes dissatisfied with its cramped quarters and seeks out a new place to inhabit.

It hurts like heck though. Pretending it feels good to be thrusted out of your comfort zone is just plain silly. There will likely be tears, frustrations, possible fits of anger and wavering faith along the way. But the process is a gift and the outcome is its own reward. Allow the stretch. Bend with the wind so you don’t break and try not to swim against the current.

The beauty of self-awareness is being able to recognize whatever season you find yourself in. Wisdom comes with accepting that no season lasts forever. Be uncomfortable enough to become open to change, willing to try and bold enough to risk failure. Cultivate your strengths and make concessions for your weaknesses. Own the transition while moving forward at the same time.

Don’t get stuck. Don’t throw in the towel when things get tough.

Your ultimate breakthrough is right on the other side of difficult.

 

(Photo courtesy Anton Van Der Weijst on Unsplash)

Leadership 101: How She Becomes a Force Without Being Forecful

Learning who you are requires work, growing pains, as well as accomplishment and setbacks. Identifying who you are as a woman in the workplace can be one of the most challenging parts of the journey. Whether you are in a female-dominated vocation or the opposite, you’ve likely experienced how lonely the path to leadership can be. In fact, the higher you rise in your field, the less likely you are to feel that you can relate to those around you. The more successful you are, it’s likely that you’ll begin to see fewer and fewer female faces.

Popular culture dictates that to be a successful female worker, entrepreneur, business owner, boss, executive, etc., you need to be rigid. These narratives tell us that women who lead value their careers above family, romantic relationships or other pursuits; that to be taken seriously, she must be aggressive, mean, dismissive of other’s feelings and interested in her own accomplishments above all else. Ruling with an iron fist has been widely celebrated, but does it really have to be that way?

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Photo by Justyn Warner on Unsplash

Strength has nothing to do with gender! Receiving recognition, being respected and valued has more to do with character, consistency and drive than we often realize. There five simple things women can do to gain leadership momentum in whatever career phase they are in:

  • Say what you mean and mean what you say: The woman whose word means something, becomes a woman whose word is everything. What comes out of your mouth should be accepted as tried and true gold, firm and decisive. If you mess it up, admit it, apologize and move on. Never back track.
  • Master the face-to-face: Insecure people hide behind technology when it comes to addressing conflict. A confident woman ditches the email, hangs up the phone, walks across the hall and addresses things head on. Her attitude is, “Let’s take a few minutes to talk about this and come up with a plan.”
  • Stop trying to keep up with Sheila: The woman who is okay being uniquely herself, has an idea of her strengths and weaknesses and knows how she prefers to lead. She isn’t looking at what the next person is doing to make herself a carbon copy of them. Even if she doesn’t get it right every time, she knows that she’ll gain more respect by being authentic.
  • Step out of the shadows: Leadership is not anonymous. It can’t be developed from the back room or operate exclusively behind a closed office door. Leadership walks, talks, has feelings and opinions. Leadership says hello in the morning and participates openly. The woman who desires to be taken seriously as a leader is not afraid to advocate for positive change.
  • Be the master of your field: All leadership journeys are marathons, not sprints. She may take necessary breaks along the way, but a woman destined to lead, knows that she will forever be a student. She is researching, learning and training to be better at what she does with an aim to be the best. She is knowledgeable, but never closes herself off to the possibility that there is still more to learn. She is also willing to mentor and teach.

“That’s Not a Real Job!”

Untitled design (7)Have you ever heard these words?

When you are ready to make your next move, people will come out of the woodwork with their opinions and suggestions on how you should best live YOUR life. I had family, friends and co-workers telling me that I couldn’t own my own business. Some cautioned me about leaving a “well-paying” job in favor of balance at home and the opportunity to raise my own children. Others wanted me to settle for nine-to-five security and put my purpose on hold…because of course, purpose can wait.

NOPE!

There is nothing wrong with working a traditional job, but it’s also not for everyone. We all must search for that thing that brings us joy when we get busy in it. It’s the work that causes your soul to leap with excitement, keeps you up at night in anticipation and drives you to tomorrow. It may be what you desire to do as your profession and it may be something you desire to do in addition to your full-time job. Part of effective leadership is getting to know yourself well enough to be rightly positioned for your purpose.

You may have notebooks full of ideas and plans for better that you feel will never come true. But they will, if you are willing to put one foot in front of the other. Whether you desire to be financially independent, your own boss, dedicate your time serving your children and family, walk fully into ministry or help those who don’t have a voice – that passion was given to you because you are more than capable. As you do the unpopular thing, you’ll have an audience, but you may not find the support you desire. Don’t worry. Don’t give up. Don’t deny your future.

This is a season of change. People are changing the world one idea, one open door, one cracked window at a time. Will you be one of them?

Career Life: Are You In The 30 or 70 Percent?

It’s estimated that as many as 70 percent of people end up working at a job unrelated to their field of study. Are you one of those people who feels you have an unused degree or desire to do something completely different than what you are doing now? Hate your job? You’re not alone.

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Depending on which source you reference, experts believe only 27 to 49 percent of people in the US workforce are in their field of study. That leaves 50 to 70 percent of people working somewhere that is not reflective of what they went to school for (if you round out the numbers).

Are you one of them?

I regret to say that I used to be one of them. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

If I knew in high school what I know now, I believe I would have taken a different path. I wouldn’t have gone to college for something that was encouraged and pressed upon me as “the right thing to do.” I would have taken more risk and focused on studying something that would fulfill me, not just fill my bank account. I wouldn’t have played it so safe.

I am, however, grateful. I take the good and the bad together as valuable pieces of my experience. I could easily look back at the hours and hours of classes, thousands of hours spent in cubicles and behind desks and kick myself, but I won’t. Regret is a choice I’ve chosen not to make. I learned a lot and I gained so much through the interactions and relationships along the way. I’ve woven so many of those things into the complex fabric of who I am.

It’s a blessing to be in my early thirties and wake up every day with purpose on my mind. I eat it and breathe it. It has become necessary for my survival. But, if I can motivate just one person to ask themselves the hard questions and go after the things they dream of, I feel that I’m sharing the wealth of a fulfilled life. I still have time to course correct and make choices that will leave a legacy for my children and my children’s children. I believe that you do too.

It starts today, one choice at a time. Start small if you have to, and put some oil on those training wheels until you get the courage to make a shift. Read a book or subscribe to an email list that will fill your inbox with motivation and “you can do it!” encouragement. Volunteer on the weekends serving others to remind you that life doesn’t happen behind computer screens, but rather all around us. Invest in yourself and take a class that you really want to take or attend a weekend conference.

Before you know it, you’ll be imagining a life where you can’t see yourself doing anything but that one thing that brings you so much joy, but scares you senseless at the same time. Purpose is your gift. Chasing after it will cause you to stretch and grow. It may even keep you up at night. Before long, you’ll be eager to fit your purpose into everything you do. Seeking after it is the road trip of a lifetime.

Not sure where to start? Ask yourself:

  • What do I love?
  • What am I naturally good at (gifts)?
  • What are my talents (things I’ve trained for/learned)?
  • What would I do every day for free if I could be financially stable while doing it?

Your purpose is tied into the answers above. That is where your work begins.

(Video) Do These 5 Things and Give Yourself An Advantage For Your Next Interview

 

There will be competition! Why not do few small things to make yourself stand out? I’ve been interviewing people in the professional setting for over 12 years. It’s often what is done/said before and after the interview that makes a person memorable (good or bad).