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A Famous Working Mother – Sheryl Says ‘Ban Bossy’

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Ban-BossyLike many of the working mothers reading this blog, I too have a daughter.  She is in 6th grade and I am constantly worrying about the tipping point of self-esteem that not only do we read about, but I can vividly remember at her age.

I happened to watch a Ban Bossy campaign clip just after returning from a meeting with my daughter’s teacher.  This campaign was initiated by Sheryl Sandburg in partner with Condoleeza Rice and the Girl Scouts of the USA.  Wow – timing is everything! The purpose of the meeting was to discuss tactics to get my daughter to work to her potential  – yes, I am a finance person and we measured her potential through testing outside of the school, therapy for a later date.  During the discussion, the teacher commented on how she had just been telling my daughter, who we have nicked name Don Corleone (Godfather, more therapy), that she noticed that she is smiling more lately and that she has such a nice smile.   Think about that for a minute…

On the surface it is a kind comment, truly.  But what my eleven year old, and many of my working mother clan, heard was that she must not be normal if she doesn’t smile often.  It is one of the little seeds that begins our ‘I’m not good enough’ syndrome that follows us until we check into therapy or coaching.  And because my daughter really likes this teacher – the impact is all that more harmful.  I am a pretty serious looking person (thanks dad), and often can look angry even when I am not.  I can remember my mother telling me often – like a broken record – that “you look pretty when you smile” and on other occasions “you always look too serious”.  What I took going forward was that there was no beauty in seriousness, so what did that make me?  (And just in case my mother is reading this – I know you said this out of love, not knowing how my little brain was wired.)

After watching the clip and a couple of related ones, I really began listening to myself with my children, my son included.  What things could I be saying that could be planting little seeds that are growing weeds when I intended them to grow sun flowers?  Don’t get hung up on the title of the campaign, Ban Bossy, watch some of the clips and get to the root of it – or to the seeds of it, after all the root comes from the seed.

I urge you to watch this clip from ABC News and share your thoughts.  What kinds of things can we, working mothers and all working women, do today to help our young girls grow into confident leaders?

Wendy Davis…a step in the right direction

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Why Are We Talking About Wendy Davis’s Choices?

This post on the NY Times website by KJ Dell’Antonia gets to the heart of why Wendy Davis’ story is good for all of us – it takes us one more step in the right direction.  The final stop should be a world where we can make career and life choices without judgement based on our gender, and that includes the judgment coming from the voices in our own heads which are often the loudest.

Regardless of politics – thank you Wendy Davis for being brave.

Wendy Davis

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Food for thought…

“Whether there are innately female leadership styles…is not really the right question. It is more important to ask why there has been so little attention paid to women leaders over the years as well as why the styles of leading more exhibited by women are particularly useful at this critical moment in history.”
- Charlotte Bunch

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A Harvard Business Review Blog… food for thought

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A Harvard Business Review Blog… food for thought

When my son entered 1st grade in a new school, I was invited to a meet and greet with the teacher.  My assigned time slot was shared with another parent… who I came to learn later was an international attorney who specialized in Saudi Arabia.  After he asked question after question about the programs, the methodology of learning and much more that I tuned out, the teacher turned to me and asked if I had any questions.  Yes I did have one question, “Can you get my kid to second grade?”.

In our house I have a mantra – shoot for average, after that it’s all icing.  My husband isn’t fond of it… but I worry about the pressure on kids today to be ‘perfect’.  Well today, my coach who has been helping me establish my business on the East Coast, sent me this link to remind me to enjoy life just a bit more…in full disclosure, I needed that reminder, I have not been practicing what I preach lately.

To read click here and smell the roses!

 

What Does Jack Welch Know About Childcare? – A lot!

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Cover of "Winning"

Cover of Winning

Yes, I know I am probably years late in reading Jack Welch’s book Winning­­, but better late than never.  I am now a Jack Welch groupie – not only because his management advice is pragmatic (my middle name) but can be applied to making decisions throughout your life.

As I near the last pages of this book, Jack (remember, I am a first name kind of gal) admits he is not an authority on work-life balance.  In that very same paragraph he states “For forty-one years, my operating principle was work hard, play hard, and spend some time as a father.” I applaud him, not because he will ever get any father or husband of the year awards, but because he made a choice and he owns it.

Women and men I meet, so often leave the choices to circumstance rather than setting up their ‘operating principle’.   I have a workshop named (Life) Infrastructure 101…after reading this book I think Operating Principles for Work/Life would be a much better title.

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Simplicity

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English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Today I visited a large appliance store looking at new appliances for our new house out east.  There were so many choices, two doors over one, two doors side by side, two doors side by side over drawers, and that was just the refrigerator.  As I left it began to rain and I remembered that I had wanted a built-in cappuccino maker – it’s always been my dream, the sign that I am truly spoiled.  And then I remembered my favorite cup of coffee. Continue reading »

More on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

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Books Sheryl SandbergI know you must be sitting on the edge of your seat, so let’s dish more about Sheryl Sandberg’s highly criticized book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.  I wrote a brief post back on March 22 which highlighted points Ms. Sandburg discussed on a TED talk.  To recap, the main points were also in the book but let’s touch on them again.

Sit at the table:  this is my favorite one of Ms. Sandberg’s points.  This simply means that you should not stay invisible.  Speak up, ask questions, and share your ideas.  And on the occasions where this is done at a physical table, sit at the table and not at one of the chairs against the wall. I have been working with a client who treats herself as unworthy of “sitting at the table” even though on many occasions she is doing the presenting.   As we talk through her reasoning, it is plain and simple – she hasn’t given herself permission to be worthy.  Instead she has listened to the pessimism of all others who are too scared to sit at the table and over time she has let it apply to herself as well.  This person is well versed in her professional arena, has a great pedigree, amazing curiosity and a rare ability to openly welcome and hear everyone’s ideas.   Of course no one will tell her to sit at the table if they are too scared to do it themselves.  She simply needs to pull out a chair.

Make your partner a true partner:  Ok, this one is very hard for me to digest.  My husband recently told me about an interview where Michele Obama mistakenly referred to herself as a single mother and then stated that being married to the president is like being a single mother.  Duh! Gals, here’s the deal… IF you have a spouse and he happens to resemble June Cleaver that’s just great!  But for the remainder of us, creating your life infrastructure as if you were a single mother can be incredibly helpful and freeing.  We will talk about the critics who point to lack of money as a barrier to this below.  Continue reading »

Working Mother Magazine – Guilty Secrets, Seriously??

I need a laugh today – you?  (We can get back to the serious subjects later)

I was recently scanning the www.workingmother.com and saw a piece called “10 Not-so-guilty little secrets”.    As I read through them I thought to myself, “guilty secrets??”.  Should I feel guilty about these things and did 10 women each have to contribute one secret to make a list of ten?  They could have just called me and I could have given them all ten, I bet I could easily come up with twenty - and I would have been proud of them.   Not feeling ‘guilty’ about these things or feeling the need to even hide them gives me a sense of freedom. It makes me a unique brand of mother, maybe a little crazy but absolutely me.  So here are my takes on their little secrets…

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