Skip navigation
All Places > Pink Petro University > The Coaches Corner > Blog
1 2 3 4 Previous Next

The Coaches Corner

49 posts

Do you rest?

 

As high achievers we pride ourselves on working hard.  Being constantly connected and available has too often become an expectation.

 

We may have taken it too far.

 

Lack of sleep impacts our health and may shorten our life span. (http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health) Human Performance Institute (https://www.hpinstitute.com) focuses on the importance of managing our energy to achieve peak performance in all areas of our life.

 

In spite of repeated messages about getting enough sleep, taking time to nurture our souls and spending time in relationship with others, we continue with our 24/7 lifestyle.  We tell ourselves that we'll rest when things slow down.  We postpone vacations or work on weekends convincing ourselves that if we don't respond immediately, or if we let something go a day or a week, there will be some disastrous consequence.

 

Earlier in my career I was going through a challenging time.  I knew I needed to get away from the intensity of daily life so I scheduled a vacation. It was a place I could go by myself, engage with other people, get exercise and have a lot of resources and activities at my disposal.  I knew it would be perfect for resetting my stress odometer. 

 

The day before I left my boss asked me how he could reach me while I was gone.  This man was not unkind, in fact he was a very compassionate man.  But he felt we should be available for work issues 24/7.  His personal practice was to check email in the wee hours of the morning and always be available on personal trips.  You can imagine his surprise when I replied, "I'm not going to tell you how to reach me because I'd prefer not to be bothered next week.  If it's an emergency, my assistant can tell you how to contact me."  He glared at me and stomped off.

 

He didn't call me all week.   The world kept spinning and the business survived.

 

I returned rejuvenated and far more productive than if I had kept pushing through in my exhausted state.

 

Was it comfortable to go against my boss's wishes?  No.  Was I a bit fearful of the consequences?  Yes.  Here's what happened.  My boss respected my boundaries.  A few months later he made a comment that showed he respected me for setting those boundaries.  He thought I had shown personal courage.

 

When is your next rest break?

 

 

Recently I wrote about leading your team through stressful times. When you’re leading during tough times, it can be lonely given that you need to be strong for your team.

Yet, how we manage ourselves during stressful times impacts our effectiveness.   When we become too stressed out, there are consequences to our health, weight, patience, perspective, relationships and more. I’ve had my share of career and business ups and downs.  I admit, there were times when I didn’t get it right.  But over time, I began to realize that I’m most effective in my leadership when I take care of myself.

Here are the actions I know to take when I’m in a tough situation:

  • Talk to someone. Spouse, partner, friends…talk to someone to help neutralize the emotions.  But realize these people may not be the ones to help devise your strategic response to whatever situation you’re in.  These are your emotional supporters, but may not  be your best business supporters.
  • Do those things that keep you centered. For me it’s thinking time, journaling and prayer and exercise.  Here’s a tip that seems counterintuitive:  Slow down and do less.  Instead of working harder and faster to get out of the situation, you’ll be more effective if you take some activities off your calendar.
  • Get an external perspective. Here’s where you look for your strategic partners.  These are the person/s who are far enough removed to be objective, yet know enough about you and business to be helpful.  Mentors, your personal board of directors, trusted colleagues.  I’ve used coaches throughout my career.  Hiring a coach gave me an external perspective and support that then helped me devise a strategic response to the situation.
  • Take action. Taking action on that which is within your control will give you a sense of authority over yourself and your situation.

 

What do you do to manage yourself during stressful times?

 

The downturn in our industry has created a lot of stress in recent years.  When you’re the leader of the team, there’s an added level of stress because others are looking to you in the face of uncertainty.  Yet you may have no more certainty than they do. 

Recently I spoke on the topic Managing Through Stressful times, drawing on a tough time during my career to extract these key points to effective leadership during times of uncertainty.

  • Stay calm and carry on. Your team is looking for guidance and calm.  Your personal stress must remain behind the scenes. There is research that shows that in times of chaos one calm person can have a calming effect on a crowd.   As a leader, you become that one person.
  • Be honest. You don’t have to tell your team everything.  But do be honest with what you tell them. 
  • Be positive. Look for the optimism in your messages.  It may only be, “We can get through this.”
  • Be transparent. Communicate frequently and with whatever you can, respecting confidentiality and the business objective.
  • Tell them why. If you know, tell them.
  • Be available and be visible. This is not the time to hunker down in your office.  Get out of your office.  Have Q&A sessions, one on one or team meetings.  Yes, even if you’re an introvert and it’s not comfortable.   
  • Be human, but not overly personal. Your team doesn’t want to see you as weak.  You can be open and a bit vulnerable without being weak.  This is a delicate balance and often depends on the leader, the audience and the situation.  It’s one of the topics we cover in my upcoming coaching circle series “Handling Difficult Situations at Work”.  For more info contact me through Pink Petro or Susan @WomenLeadingTogether.com.

 

Have you led a team through uncertainty?  What did you learn? 

It can be very uncomfortable when you’re faced with an upset employee.  You make your decisions intentionally and with great thought, so when someone questions them, it can be unnerving – especially when the employee is standing in front of you or blasting off emotionally charged emails.  Maybe they feel excluded.  Or perhaps they didn’t get what they wanted.  Now you’re wondering…did I make the right call?

There will be many times in your career where you will be questioned, disagreed with or challenged.  It’s normal.  The key is to keep the emotion out of your reaction and take a rational approach to the situation. 

(1)   Don’t have conversations with upset employees via email.  Engage with them in person or at least by phone or skype if logistics prevent otherwise.

(2)   Remind yourself “It’s not personal.”  Business decisions are just that…business.  If someone disagrees with you, it does not mean it’s about you.  Most likely it’s about the issue at hand.

(3)   Consider and explore their perspective.  This is the corollary to (2).  It may feel personal to them, so it’s worth considering what may be driving the emotion.  Is their upset due to a rational business difference of opinion or are they coming from an emotional perspective?

(4)   Remind yourself of why you made the decision.  Is it still valid or have you been given new information?

(5)   Decide what needs to be disclosed…and what doesn’t.  The person in front of you doesn’t need to know every thought you had when making the decision, but if there is relevant feedback, provide that to them.  If it’s a sensitive issue about their work, choose the appropriate time and setting (which may not be at that very moment.)

(6)   Remedy the situation or stand firm.  You don’t have to please everyone.  If your decision needs to stand, and the person is unhappy, so be it.  Express appreciation for them bringing the subject to you for discussion.  Allow them time to express their views, then calmly affirm your decision.  If you know the answer, don’t delay to avoid the discomfort.  Move through it so the individual can leave the discussion with a clear understanding of whether the decision is final or not.  Don’t promise to reconsider if you know you’re not going to do so. 

Occasionally it’s worth quietly reconsidering your decisions.  But hold your second thoughts to yourself, consider then let it go.  Don’t ruminate.  

A firm decision, even if not perfect, is a better leadership action than waffling.

A woman came to me to talk about her offensive boss.  He had made inappropriate jokes, was crude and disrespectful to her.  He was a person of influence in the company.

 

If you stay in business long enough, you’ll come across people like this.  How do you handle them?

 

First I want to say that what follows is not meant to cover egregious, physical or sexual abuse situations.  Those are much more serious than what we’re talking about here and call for a stronger approach.

 

But if you’re dealing with the obnoxious, disrespectful or offensive individual there are some things you can try before it gets more serious.

 

In a sensitive situation where we feel we are being personally attacked, we can let emotions override logic.  I’ve seen women assume the first step should be to report the individual through the formal channels or make the situation public, relying on the “system” to make it right.  This does not always work.  We hope the right thing would be done, but there can be reluctance to deal with a person in a position of power.  In fact, escalating the issue or making it widespread can backfire if you’re not strategic in your approach.

 

When dealing with highly emotional and sensitive issues, you must be strategic in your approach.

 

I have found that a direct, rational approach to the offensive individual can often bring him or her into line. 

 

Early in my career my boss was making inappropriate advances to me.  He was getting too physically close and subtly finding ways of touching me, all very clearly inappropriate yet just short of crossing a line that I could explain and defend to a third party.

 

I prepared myself for a conversation with him.  I went into his office, kept the door open and said to him, “You may not be aware, but you have been approaching me in a way that invades my personal space.”  I then described the behaviors and told him it made me uncomfortable.  “I am asking you to stop doing this.”  Just like that.  Simple, rational and clear.

 

He was taken aback that I had called him on his behavior. He apologized, claimed he had no idea (which I let go) and it stopped.

 

Smart individuals, acting inappropriately, don’t want to be “found out”, which is what gives you influence in the situation. 

 

Had it not stopped, I would have strategically selected an influential advisor from whom to seek guidance.   Had that not yielded results, I would have chosen more formal channels.

 

Whether dealing with an offensive boss or making a request for an overdue raise or promotion, our emotions can get in the way of our strategy. There are steps you can take to clear the emotions and make your requests heard in an effective manner.  In my recent Communicate to Advance workshop we covered the skill of making difficult requests at work.  Watch the Pink Petro space and/ or contact me for the next workshop on this skill.

 

How have you handled offensive people?

 

 

 

 

“If I keep my head down and do good work, they will notice and I’ll be recognized.”

This statement is false.  We would like to believe that our hard work will automatically be noticed and that we will be appreciated and rewarded for it.  That is often not the case, especially during stressful and chaotic times in business. 

To be recognized for your work, you have to let people know what you are accomplishing.

“It feels like bragging when I talk about myself.”

I frequently hear this statement from women.  We learn at an early age to keep the playing field level with our friends. Keeping the playing field level is important to being liked and as little girls, we are taught that it is good to be liked.

Business is not about keeping the playing field level.  It’s about competition.  The foundation of capitalism is laid on healthy competition.  We need to play in that game, and do so in a way that feels authentic to us as women.

Here are the three reasons you need to learn to communicate your accomplishments and differentiate yourself:

1. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. People are busy.  If something isn’t brought to their attention, it is easy to overlook it.  If you assume your manager or others are noticing, you may be wrong. 

 

2. What may be obvious to you isn’t obvious to others. You are closer to your work. You know the challenges you face, how difficult it is to get something done, what you sacrificed to make it happen and how you creatively solved the problem. Everyone else sees the result, and from their perspective, it may have looked like an easy thing to do.

 

3. Your peers are talking about their accomplishments. In business, performance among individuals is relative. Not everyone gets promoted, not everyone gets the big raises and bonuses. Even if you are working in a team, you are contributing something unique.  When it comes time to decide relative performance, you need to be able to distinguish and communicate your role. Your peers are doing so.

 

This is hard for many women.  It feels like bragging, yet if we don’t talk about our accomplishments, they can go unnoticed or unappreciated.  I teach women how to overcome the reluctance to talk about themselves.  They learn to do it in a way that feels comfortable and in a safe practice environment.  It is a key skill that we'll cover in the upcoming workshop Communicate to Advance: The Skills You Need to Get What You Want.

You may tell yourself, “It’s ok, as long as I know I’m helping.”  Yes, serving is good.  However, you invest a lot of your time, energy and effort into your work.  You deserve to be recognized and appreciated for what you do. 

If talking about your accomplishments is uncomfortable, I encourage you to sign up for the March 31 workshop Communicate to Advance.   You'll learn, practice and engage in a fun, interactive workshop with other like-minded women.   Women who have attended this program have received promotions, higher performance factors and secured the jobs they wanted.  Join us at the Pink Petro offices in Houston on March 31.     For info and to register click here.

Last week at HERWorld I moderated the panel on career transition and resilience.  Thanks to Amanda Barlow, Kristy Whitaker and Tina Peters for their stories of resilience during downturns.  Downturns bring uncertainty and that feeling of uncertainty lingers.  We learn from it, but we also remember how it feels.

 We need to support each other during uncertain times.   The feelings of uncertainty and need for support and encouragement prompted me to post this article I wrote in November of 2015.  Over a year later, it's still relevant:

In one of my virtual programs I noticed that the group was quiet when normally they would be very engaged. This was highly unlike previous groups where there was lots of enthusiastic engagement, questions and storytelling.  Finally I probed what was holding them back.

 One very insightful woman asked, "Have other groups been facing as much uncertainty in their careers?  We're all in an environment of layoffs, acquisitions, new management and organizational changes."

She had a point. Almost every one of them was operating in an environment filled with uncertainty.

 I cant count the number of conversations Ive had from women who are concerned about changes in their company.  I sense the anxiousness in their voices when they say:

  • Should I change jobs?
  • Should I stay where I am and keep my head down?
  • What do I do if my supporters are no longer with the company?
  • I recently made a job change and now I don't have advocates in my new job.
  • I feel vulnerable.It's just so political these days.
  • Maybe I should just make a dramatic change.
  • Is this a good time to change functions?

All are natural considerations.  Many are born of fear.

When times are uncertain we have a tendency toward two extremes: (1) burrow in and stay out of the way or (2) make a change to get far away from the source of the discomfort.

The best response usually falls in the middle.  Here are some actions you can take to ease the anxiousness.

Stay visible.  Instead of keeping your head down, be visible with the people who can and will support you.

Stay close to your circle of influence and your supporters.  Realize that if you make a big change in functions or companies, you are leaving your supporters behind and will have to develop a new group of advocates.

Get connected.  If you've lost or neglected to develop your advocates, make it a priority to develop new ones now.  Get guidance or introductions from those advocates who have left or transferred. They may not be in a position of as much influence but they may have connections with those who are.

 Check your skills. Have you kept up to date with the changes needed in your company/ profession? If not, take care of that.

 Stay aware. Keep your perspective broad and keep your eye on the business.  It will not only make you better at what you do, it can help you anticipate business needs and changes.

 Build on your strengths.  If you are considering a job change, either out of need or desire, make sure that the change builds on your strengths, uses your previous experience in some way and that your advocate/s support it.

 Keep your mind open to options.  You have more than you think.  Explore other companies.  Talk to people in your own company about job alternatives. Explore other types of jobs that build on your skills. One woman was considering leaving her long time profession in a niche area, building on her financial expertise and joining a family business in another city.  That's a pretty dramatic change, and she's not certain whether she will pursue it, but considering options gave her a greater sense of comfort.

Spend time doing things that calm you.  Never make a big decision out of fear.   Make decisions when you are in a place of peace. 

 In any case, don't keep your head down and don't overreact.  Be strategic and intentional with your career choices.  You have more choices than you think.

A choice you can make to feel more confident is to sign up for the Communicate to Advance workshop on March 31 at Pink Petro offices.  Sign up by Friday March 17 and receive a $100 discount ($150 discount for Pink Petro members).  https://community.pinkpetro.com/events/1607-women-leading-togetherpink-petro-workshop-communicate-to-advance 

 

susan.hodge

A Tale Of Two Careers

Posted by susan.hodge Champion Mar 9, 2017

Many of you have been going through reorganizations, staff reductions, mergers and general uncertainty in your jobs.  There’s been a lot of conversation about how to survive turbulent times.  It reminded me of two dichotomous examples of responses to a job disruption.  We can learn from each person’s story.

The Expert Behind the Scenes

The first person, I’ll call her Jane, was known as the expert in her job.  Her company was going through a reorganization and reassigning people to jobs.  She felt very confident that she would remain in her job.  It was obvious, right?  She was well known as a strong performer, she had more knowledge than anyone else and she worked hard.  Feeling confident about having the facts on her side, she kept her head down and continued working hard through the decision process.

However, someone else wanted Jane’s job.  I’ll call him John.   John had no experience in this area, but saw the job as a good development role. He proactively met with decision makers and influencers to let them know of his interest, showcase his strengths and be visible.

John got the job.  Jane ended up leaving the company.

 

The Flip Side:  Strategic, Intentional and Visible

The second example is a woman I’ll call Brenda.  Brenda’s company was going through staff reductions and in doing so making decisions on who should be in which jobs, with there being fewer “chairs” to sit in once the process was finished.  Like Jane, Brenda was also well regarded and well known for her expertise.

Like everyone potentially affected, Brenda had some nervousness about the process.  There were a lot of strong candidates in her department.  Brenda decided to be proactive.  She made it a point to gather information about the decision process.  She sought out feedback on her strengths and where others thought she would be a good fit.  She spent time considering what she wanted for herself and her next assignment and then conveyed that to her network of advocates and potential decision makers. She gained confidence when she explored external options.  She surrounded herself with a support network outside of work to keep her centered through this anxiety-filled situation.

In short, she managed herself and the job process intentionally and strategically.  She stayed visible and front of mind with decision makers.

Brenda got the job she wanted.

Is It Politics?

I often hear women speak with disdain about corporate “politics”.  To dismiss decisions we don’t like as “politics” does not serve us well.  Instead, let’s learn to take positive action to understand and manage the decisions that affect us.

The actions taken by John and Brenda provided information to those in decision making positions.  Yes, sometimes likeability, personal commonalities and other relationship characteristics will factor into decisions.  But managers are trying to make the best decisions they can. If you don’t provide them with information, they’ll rely on what they know about you or they’ll make up their own story. Even worse, they may forget about you.

We need to know what we want for ourselves.  When we know what we want for our career, what is important to us or what development opportunities we’d like to have, we can position ourselves accordingly.  We can then speak with authenticity and enthusiasm.

Be proactive and intentional in communicating what you want for your career.  You’re providing information for your company and empowerment for you.

If you'd like to build your skills at self advocacy, sign up for Communicate to Advance - a 1 day workshop on March 31 at Pink Petro offices.  Register by March 10 for $100 discount!    https://community.pinkpetro.com/events/1607-women-leading-togetherpink-petro-workshop-communicate-to-advance 

 

I work frequently with women who want something more or different for their careers.  They may want to work in a different part of their company, to take on more responsibility, or get support for a promotion.  They always want to know the path to get what they want.  Yes, we need to have some of the skills and relevant experience.  But there’s more:

If we want something more from our careers we must ask for what we want. 

Too often when I explore what my client has communicated to her boss, sponsor or other advocate, I’m told something like this: “I’ve told them I’m interested in doing x.”

 

Expressing interest is not the same as asking for what you want.

Indirect communication is a linguistic style where we say what we mean, but we don’t spell it out in every detail.   Both men and women use indirectness, but we use it in different situations.  Per Deborah Tannen, the well-known expert in communications, women tend to be more indirect when making requests of others, while men tend to be indirect when acknowledging fault or blame.  For us, being indirect can be comfortable and avoids the feeling of harshness or risk of being turned down. 

Here’s the problem in a business context:  If you are speaking indirectly (e.g. hinting at what you want) to someone who expects more direct language, your message will be diluted.

Expressing interest does not require the listener to act.  If you leave the conversation having “expressed interest”, you may find yourself wondering what happens next.  When you ask directly (“Will you do x?”) the listener is in a position where they must choose an answer, thus providing clarity – positive, negative or action.  You have then received useful information.

Asking directly can feel uncomfortable at first.  It feels aggressive and risky.  But to get what we want from our careers we have no choice…we must ask and ask directly.  The good news is you can learn to ask directly and authentically.

If the thought of asking directly for what you want makes you cringe, all is not lost.  You can join other women who share this feeling in the Communicate to Advance workshop on March 31.  You’ll gain two skills to help you advocate for yourself and make your requests clearly, directly and confidently.  Join us on March 31 at the Pink Petro offices by registering here: https://community.pinkpetro.com/events/1607-women-leading-togetherpink-petro-workshop-communicate-to-advance 

You’re busy. This time of year is fun, yet adds a multitude of activities to our already hectic schedules. It’s a time of year when we tend to focus on others, which is a good thing. However, it’s also the time of year when performance write ups are due, scorecards are being drawn up and bonus, raise and performance discussions are taking place. Even though we’re busy, we need to make these important career discussions a priority.

In the midst of the year end busy-ness, make time to focus on and communicate your accomplishments.

If your boss is asking for your performance write up, make it a priority during your day. It’s a leverage point for your career. Don’t rush it to get it done.

I was working with a woman on communicating her accomplishments, which is a key skill I teach in one of my signature programs.   My client was very talented and had sent me her write up of her achievements during the year. It was voluminous, apparently intending to convey that she had done a lot. However, it had the opposite effect. I lost attention quickly because I couldn’t find the key messages in the details.

Lengthy detailed write ups, poorly organized, won’t get the attention you want.

As I read it, I also saw lots of references to her team. She wanted, rightly, to give credit to her team. However, I asked her, “Where are you in these achievements?” Feeling uncomfortable talking about herself, she had buried her role so deep in the descriptions that it wasn’t clear what she had done.

It’s hard to talk about ourselves without feeling like we’re bragging. But it is possible. And it is necessary.

When preparing your performance write up, keep in mind these three things:

  • Be concise.
  • Be direct.
  • Highlight you.

Do you struggle with writing a concise, direct assessment of your achievements that highlights YOU?

Today is the day…that I’m taking my own advice. I’m taking action for change.  There's a project in my business that needs my attention.  I’ve put it off…but no more. It’s time to change.

I work with women to create change in their careers. I support my clients in overcoming obstacles and taking action.   What is it that we all need, including me, to take action for change? Here are a few points that I’ve observed work for me and for my clients.

Get Centered: Getting into a place of peacefulness is the first step to creating change. Any decision to start something new or make a change must come from a stress-free perspective, absent from distractions and with a mindset that can see a clear way forward. Meditation, yoga, prayer, retreats, using a coach or friend to think things through…all are useful tools for getting centered.

Be Realistic: If we want to change something, the goal has to be realistic. Absent that, we can slip into discouragement or feeling overwhelmed.

Create Margin: The time to do something new has to come from somewhere. I encourage clients to create “margin” in their schedules. Leave time in between meetings, even if 15 minutes. Deliberately schedule time to work on that new project or effort. Make it the first thing that goes on the calendar.

Enlist Support: We all need support. One of my coaching colleagues is my accountability partner. I have used a coach to support me in specific areas of my development.   They provide useful feedback and encouragement – something we all need when making changes.

Take the First Step: It has to be simple, small and measurable. We need to feel that we’ve taken a step in the right direction. In my project, I’ve already taken several small steps in a short period of time to get me started. They are easily repeatable, so long as I have the first four points in place. I already feel better about the journey ahead.

 

Today was the day for me.  What do you want to start today?

I hear frequently from women about their disdain for office politics. It annoys us, it feels disingenuous and it feels like it distorts the otherwise fairness of the rules. I believe it comes from some of the socialization we’ve learned from the time we were little girls: play nice, keep the playing field level. Little boys learn at an early age to get comfortable with the “one up, one down” way of being. When we see how this plays out in business, it doesn’t feel good.

Let me present you with an alternative perspective.

Office politics is one way of getting information into the system to accomplish a result. (See my recent newsletter on this topic: Career Management: Politics or Strategy?)

It’s not the politics at issue, it’s the motivation and intent of the person for what they are doing. Here’s what I mean.

If someone is using their relationships and influence to introduce misleading information, to take someone else down, or to be manipulative or mischievous, then, yes, they are misusing the “political process”.

If, however, someone is working the system to get promoted, is that bad? When they are communicating their objectives, getting to know decision makers and talking about their qualifications, they are proactively managing their career. Their intent is not bad; it’s no different than what we often want for ourselves, right? It’s the method that bothers us. Wouldn’t it be more fair if everyone just observed our good work and made decisions accordingly?

It doesn’t work that way. Managers need more information. They need to know more than just what they can observe. They need your perspective. They need to be reminded of you and your work. They need to know what you want. Don’t think about it as “political”, think about it as “strategic”.

Developing relationships, communicating information about yourself or something you want to achieve is a way of putting information into the system so it can be used. It’s all about intent and authenticity.

What are some positive things you can do to manage your career that might be considered “political”?

August 26 was Women’s Equality Day. Here’s a big salute to all who are working on gender equality to make progress at a policy and social accountability level!   A couple of those are our own Katie Mehnert and  Gloria Feldt, Pink Petro member and founder of Take the Lead Women.

While these powerful women and others (including men) are moving the cause forward systemically, what can we be doing at an individual level to be better prepared for the opportunities that come our way, or better yet, to create opportunities for ourselves?

I’m reminded of a recent conversation with my husband. He shared with me how over lunch his team kept going on and on about a very difficult situation and person they were having to deal with. They were caught in the emotional mire of it all which was not productive to solving the problem. He consciously chose to redirect their conversation. “Let’s focus on the strategy and what we can control here.” The tone of the conversation changed, and the energy around the situation became more positive. Now they felt like they could do something to influence the issue.

What can you control?  Yourself and your actions.

While gender equality evolves systemically, let’s support and encourage those who are working on behalf of all women.  Let's also help them by focusing on what we can control for ourselves and within our field of influence.

If you’re a manager, you have a higher responsibility to the people you manage. If you’re an individual contributor you can influence yourself and others around you by doing a few simple things that will benefit your career and that of others.

  • Develop the skills that help overcome common hurdles for women. If you want something different to happen in your career, you’ll need to do something different.  Become familiar with issues around gender, how they show up in business and how you can develop your skills to be more effective.
  • Get a mentor, be a mentor. Share your experiences. Focus your mentoring around topics relevant to women.
  • Find the power and use your power.  Develop your advocates and be an advocate for others. It takes people in decision making positions to help others advance.
  • Step forward with your achievements...and encourage others to do the same.  It is possible to talk about yourself in a way that is not bragging.  Support other women in doing the same.  Encouragement is a powerful motivator when it comes from someone we admire and respect.
  • Claim your value.  Learn how to negotiate for yourself and others.

 

 

Expand what you know and who you know... and what they know about you.

At the end of every summer Olympic  Games, I seem to get a renewed shot of patriotism and hopefulness about the current generation of athletes. They were all so inspiring! This year a couple of things were said and done that I thought were worth passing on to those who either didn’t hear them or were not glued to their televisions every night like I was.  The first was Katie Ledecky, who is the current rising star of USA women swimmers.  She blew away all her competition, broke a world record and is only nineteen years old.  While her accomplishments were impressive, it’s what she said in that hit home.  When interviewed after all her races were complete, she was asked how she accomplished such extraordinary success during these Olympic Games.  Her answer was simple and to the point.  “I set big dreams, I worked really hard and had the belief that good things would happen”.  WOW! How profound and what great words to live by for all us.  I encourage all of you to Set Big Dreams, Work Really Hard and Have the Belief that Good Things Will Happen to You!!!

The second big takeaway for me was from the Women’s Gymnastics.  I’ve loved watching them perform for decades and am extraordinarily impressed with what they are able to do.  But again I want to profile something that was done by the five member team that showed extraordinary maturity and thankfulness.  If you follow the sport, you were aware there was a lot of hype about them winning the team Gold Medal and what they would name themselves if they won.  In 2012, the U.S. women dominated, won the gold and were deemed the Fabulous Five.  Leading up to the games the team was asked, if you win what will you call yourselves?  They told everyone it was a secret and if they won, they would announce after the scores were final.  There was a lot of speculation around very cute names they might call themselves.  No one got it right.  When it was all said and done and they destroyed the competition and won the gold medal handily, they announced their name was going to be the Final Five!

The name was chosen for two reasons.  First it was a tribute to their coach Marta Karolyi, who had brought the women’s program to the pinnacle of the sport. She was retiring after these Olympics and therefore this was her final Olympic Team.  The second reason is that the Gymnastics Federation was changing the rules going forward and there would no longer be five on a team but instead only four.  I want to focus on the first reason these young women (all under 20 years old I might add), decided to name themselves the Final Five.  It wasn’t about them.  It was about their coach who brought them there.  A woman who had given her life to the sport and had influenced the lives of these young women and so many others before them and now was leaving the sport at the top of her game.  These young women recognized and wanted to honor her.  What an extraordinarily mature thing to do for women who were so young and so accomplished.  This was a fitting reminder to me and I’m encouraging you to thank all the people around you who have contributed to your success.  Maybe it was a teacher, a former boss, a mentor, a good friend or maybe even a coach.   We don’t get to where we are on our own.  This is an important reminder for all of us.   

Happy Independence Day to our US readers.  For our Canadian readers Happy Canada Day, a few days late.

 

It’s a good time to think about freedom.  Recently I was speaking with a woman who is redesigning her career.

She told me, “I have total freedom to do what I want!” Yet she was feeling unsettled and doubting herself on

how to move forward. 

 

You may have heard of the study conducted on the impact of fences around children’s playgrounds.  The theory

was that if the fences around the playground were removed, the children would explore more territory and be

more creative in their play.  The researchers were surprised when they observed that without a fence, the children huddled around the school door.

 

To be really free, we need boundaries.

 

What does this look like from a professional perspective?

 

Be very clear on your priorities, your purpose and your passions. These make up your professional “fence”.  If you are clear on the three P’s you will know when to say “yes” to opportunities and you will have the personal courage to
say “no” when you need to.  Courage is a manifestation of personal freedom. 

 

What gives you a feeling of freedom in your career?