Do you believe you can have a fulfilling career, be committed to it and have a full life?
I think many of us ask that question. We strive for it. We ache for it. Yet, there is a tiny little part of us...or a great big part that doesn't believe it's possible.
Every time something happens, and we get swamped, have to travel, we get sick or our kids get sick, or....you fill in the blank...and we lose our sense of balance, we are once again wondering: Will I ever truly find work-life balance?
Here's the thing, maybe work-life balance is possible, maybe it isn't,
but you will never know if you don't try to find it! Are you ready to try?
Keep reading to learn how!
We do want "it all!"
Honestly, it often feels like you are "damned if you do and damned if you don't" If you give too much at work, you are judged as not being there for your family. The reverse is true too. Take too much time off, waver about travel or talk too much about your kids and your commitment to the job can be in question.
It's true. Countless studies and online forums have women attest to this. In a recent study from the Ontario Nonprofit Network, women identified flexibility as one thing they were looking for because they were struggling with work-life balance. We desire the freedom to have some flexibility so we can juggle everything a bit easier.
The demands in social media and the recommendations in reports are clear; organizations need to provide the right culture, offer flexibility, ensure wage equity and offer fair opportunities for advancement. While these are all critical factors, it's only half of the equation.
The other half is you. The truth is you also need to step up confidently.
It takes two to tangle
You are fully in the challenge. Rather than being the victim of the circumstances, I encourage you to step forward with hope, optimism and a belief that you can find a way to find more balance.
The way - - > Change your mindset
Finding a new way starts with the right mindset.
Ditch the fixed mindset. That is the one that believes:
Instead, embrace a growth mindset. That is one that believes:
If you need some help finding the mindset that will help you find success, tune in to this training on finding your Success Mindset!
The new truth
We can change "the world" together. It's not easy. It will take time. But keep this in mind: Someone has to start. We are being offered a hand...it might seem tentative, but it's there. The sector is demanding equity, fairness and flexibility. It's time we do our part to make it happen.
Believe with your whole heart, that work-life balance IS possible!
p.s. This whole journey starts with believing you can do it. That's confidence, my dear! Make sure to grab your copy of Mastering Confidence and re-read it if need be! Do the free course that goes with the book and then take in extra training here. Master confidence and you'll be well on your way to finding more balance!
Do you ever feel lonely?
Do you ever feel like no one understands you?
Do you ever long for connection?
Do you know what?
I would venture a guess that almost every women leader I asked those questions to, would answer just the same way as you just did. YES!
Here is what you can do about it -->
I have felt this way sooooo often!
I have multiple journal entries that indicate all through my years as a leader, and even now, I can say yes often to these questions. I've felt lonely, not understood and ached for a hug so often I couldn't even begin to count the times. It feels very isolating and even scary at times.
You'd be surprised to know how many other women feel this way too!
If you look around your office, across the boardroom table today or through your list of names in your inbox, you'd be surprised how many of the women you come across would answer the same way. Even women that you think have it all together, seem so connected and confident.
But we keep it a secret
Here's the thing. Most of them would not admit they are lonely. Not in the vulnerable way you and I are talking about right now. Most would brush it off, hide it or downplay it.
Secrets lead to shame
We know that when you keep something hidden, it leads to suffering and shame. We feel wrong about how we feel. We feel guilty. We are reminded we are supposed to be grateful. So we assume that we should shake it off and move on and certainly not tell anyone or admit how bad it is.
Instead, awaken your self-compassion
If what I said is true earlier, that you are not the only woman leader feeling isolated and alone, then it might also be true that it is a very real part of being a woman leader that we will experience the feeling of loneliness. It would also be true then, that we aren't weird, wrong, bad or selfish for desiring connection.
This recognition that we aren't alone is one of the 3 components of self-compassion. Expert Kristen Nef describes as "Common Humanity vs Isolation." She describes it as:
Next steps for you
With this new understanding, we can let go of the shame of reaching out.
If you want to know how much self-compassion you have, take Kristen Nef's self-compassion test here.
One other little reminder...
it's hard to be compassionate to others ...
a strength of great leaders...if you don't exercise self-compassion!
Let's see if I am right
Email me and let me know if you've ever felt lonely, isolated or crave connection. Tell me a story about it if you'd like! I'd love to know what it felt like for you and what you did about it, whether that was reaching out, or hiding it.
I'm going to keep track of how many responses I get and report back in the Confident Women Leaders Community. By the way, that's a great place to share stories, challenges and ask for something you need.
Please do this:
If I could recommend one thing for you to do today, it would be this:
Go someplace where no one can see you, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself the most loving and compassionate hug you can.
You are worth it!
One more thing:
Here is something to think about: When you role-model self-compassion for the younger women in your life, they will learn to practice it much quicker in their leadership journey!
Emotionally Intelligent women leaders are more effective, stronger and more impactful than their less emotionally intelligent counterparts. How did they develop their emotional intelligence? By increasing their emotional vocabulary. The more accurately you can name your emotion, the quicker you can move through it. You get control of your emotions by getting clear on your emotions. Clarity is the ticket.
In this blog, you'll begin to understand how to gain that emotional clarity thus giving you back emotional control and increasing your emotional intelligence.
Here are some trivia questions to get you started...Do you know...
Do you know what French, musical notes and emotion words have in common?
Here is what they have in common. They are all ways of communicating.
How often are you miscommunicating your feelings?
Miscommunication is one of the biggest challenges in relationships, at home and at work.
Given there may be 30,000 feeling words, here's the problem...most of us only use a select few...Brene Brown suggests we can only name 3 emotions. Click here to hear which 3. When we stick to those basic emotions, we are missing a big part of our own understanding of what is going on inside of us. That leads to us simply trying to shut our emotions off, minimize them or push them down. When that happens, we lose control.
Emotional Intelligence requires emotional literacy
Emotional Intelligence is being able to both recognize and manage our emotions. To do that, you need to increase your emotional literacy.
Practice Expanding your Emotional Vocabulary: Do this:
Thank about a particular situation today. It could have been "good" or not so "good.? Then take a moment to write down a few emotions you felt then. Try to get to at least 10.
Then grab a thesaurus and look for other words that might more clearly describe your emotions. Voila, you are on the road to expanding your emotional vocabulary!
Continue to grow your emotional vocabulary, and you will become more emotionally literate. That will increase your emotional control and your emotional intelligence! One last thing: Emotions are not bad, wrong or a problem for women leaders. We just need to learn to harness the power of our emotions!!! You will do that when you expand your emotional vocabulary!
So, you want out of survival mode. You want to enjoy your job more. You want to feel that you have time to get to the meaningful work, not just the crisis of the day. And of course, you also want to enjoy the rest of your life.
What are you doing to get there?
What are you actively doing to move from survival or a place of tolerating, to that point where most days you feel like you are thriving?
In this blog, you'll learn the 3 things you MUST schedule into your daily agenda if you want to get out of survival mode and move to a place of thriving in both leadership and life!
I start with the phrase ACTIVELY DOING for a reason. Wishing, hoping and praying things will get better won't change them. But I know, you maybe saying you can't actively doing thing yet. Ugh...I know, but....
Please DON'T tell me you are
These ladies certainly DID NOT wait!
You don't have to wait anymore either.
You need to realize this:
Let me tell you a little secret: Intentional personal and professional development is your path to success in leadership and in life.
To be intentional about your personal and professional growth and development, you need to treat it like anything else important in your day — You need to schedule it in!
Specifically, what do you need to have actually scheduled in as appointments in your day-timer, calendar or appointment book? These 3 things
The 3 things you MUST have in your agenda!
I will not tell you it's easy to schedule these things in. It's not. It requires courage to stand up for yourself, your beliefs and desires. Become your best self by scheduling in self-care, self-reflection and self-improvement. It will be awkward and uncomfortable at times, but that's ok. We are not in a popularity contest. We are here to make a difference in the lives of others, in our families and communities. To do that, we need to be at our best. Please don't apologize for that!
Do you work with a bunch of women? Do they sometimes drive you nuts?
I walked into an all-female meeting a while back and immediately knew it was going to be an hour full of sarcasm, snide comments and passive aggressiveness. And I was right! OMG! They cut each other off, spewed darts at each other as they spoke and refused to "play nice." I just wanted to shake them all and say stop! Can't you be nice to each other?
We work in a predominantly female sector
The majority of people that are employed in the non-profit sector are women, so my guess is you work with a lot of them. I'm also going to venture a guess that you find them "emotional" and that those displays of emotions get on your nerves. I'm curious who's driving you crazy today? Your administrative support, your boss or the team lead? Maybe it's the whole dang team!
Your mood today plays a big role!
Here's the thing, how you are feeling, your mood, affects how tolerable you are of their behaviour.
Your mood impacts how their attitude affects you!
This is what it can look like instead
Coming from a place of compassion and feeling a bit more patience may allow you to address the issue, rather than the person. I am NOT suggesting you let things slide and allow people to be rude, ignorant and disrespectful.
Don't take their comment personally
This is what you can do to deal with moody women on your team
One sure way to find the patience for dealing with other women: Choose your mood. Tune into this Ted Talk to hear the science behind this idea. But here's the thing, you can change your mood. You can lift yourself up, and, it doesn't take much time.
🎶 Mambo # 5 🎶
🎶 Pump up the Jam 🎶
🎶 Rock around the Clock 🎶
Are you smiling?
You didn't even need to HEAR the music, and I know already I've changed your mood! You are hearing the songs in your head...the beat..the tune..the energy. Makes you want to dance, doesn't it? Are you humming?
Boost your mood!
If that's not enough
I get it. This is in some ways only a temporary fix. The reality is that ongoing negativity and moods in the office can turn things toxic pretty darn quickly. Here are a couple of more resources for you.
But always, start with you! Take responsibility for YOUR mood! Trust me that will have a ripple effect!
If you are like most women leaders, there is a general unhappiness with your day-to-day life, but you don’t know how to change it.
If this sounds familiar, know that you are not alone! Many women find they are stuck in survival mode. Just getting through their days, tolerating the crap and looking forward to their next vacation to get a break from it all.
It doesn't have to be that way! Keep reading to discover how you can change days and your inner mantra!
The short story
The problem is, that you are stuck in a rut and don't quite know how to get out. It may not be bad enough to run, but if you are honest with yourself, it's time for a change of some sort. You just don't know how to do it.
The consequence of staying trapped can be stagnation, frustration, and bitterness. It can become quite unhealthy for you, your team and your family as the effects spill out around you. Perhaps you’ve already noticed this. Especially, if you, like many, have been bogged down for weeks, months or even years.
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION:
The solution is to change it. Getting from where you are now to where you want to be is quite simple, right? You just figure out where you want to go and start moving in that direction. It sounds simple perhaps in theory, but we all know, it is not always so easy in real life. At times, getting there can seem downright impossible.
The longer story
I know that place of stuck all too well. Time-and-time again I have found that I am once again feeling stalled. I realized I’d been working hard, but getting nowhere, except worn out. You know that feeling too right?
I learned that instead of staying stuck forever, it was when I paused long enough to realize what was going on that I had some great insights. Through conscious pondering, I was able to figure out what I needed to do to get from where I was, to where I wanted to be. This reflection gave me time to think and allowed me to do a little bit of a pivot in a new direction.
That slight shift of direction helped me to create a new strategy to accomplish what I was looking for. With that plan in hand, I was able to proceed forward, despite challenges, opposition and with the fear and doubt that are ever present.
THE COMPLETE SOLUTION:
The key to success has always been a plan. It is the deliberate understanding of what I need to do next, and perhaps even after that has gotten me, and can get you too, through the challenges that are inevitably in front of us when we want a different experience of life going forward.
A plan is a roadmap that helps you to move from where you are now, to where you want to be. Think of it as your guide that shows you the next step when you get lost or disoriented. Without it, you might just end up going around in circles. Many of us go around-and-around the hamster wheel of life, never really getting anywhere.
A plan isn’t just merely saying I don’t want this, but I do want that. A well thought out, and a comprehensive plan includes the steps you need to take and addresses potential challenges and roadblocks that you will face. The truth is, it is going to take time and effort to get to your destination. You will need to work at it step-by-step. To be successful, you need to build a thorough plan.
When I decided to return to school for my degree, it took 8 years and countless hours of study time. I had to stay focused and set my parental guilt aside while my husband handled the kid’s bedtimes and homework. The commitment required a ton of work to overcome inner saboteurs voices that threatened to stop me dead in my tracks.
My plan helped me to focus on what was in front of me. My strategy was to attain my degree slowly and steadily: One course at a time. I strategically planned which courses I was taking and in what order, matching it up with what else was going on in life. I took a couple of semesters off to recharge. I kept the end goal in mind when doubt, fear, and hesitation crept in. I also knew, what chapter I was reading, what paper needed completing and what I needed to do, that evening, and perhaps the next. Both the long-term vision and the daily steps of the plan were crucial to my success.
DEVELOPING YOUR PLAN:
Moving from the trapped place of feeling overwhelm, doubt or spinning your wheels to feeling happy, confident and advancing forward each day with purpose, takes effort, time and persistence. It is not easy. The truth is, it can be quite tricky. What makes getting back into motion easier, is one secret ingredient that is often missed. Wishing, hoping and begging will only take you so far. To get the rest of the way, you need that plan.
If it’s time for you to jump off of that crazy hamster wheel and move forward, then it’s time for you to develop your plan.
DON’T GET CAUGHT IN THE HAZARDS:
If you are like many women, you develop a plan to change your life, only to have it all fall apart just a short time later. That’s because you likely made one of the critical mistakes most women make when trying to develop a plan to change their life.
I want to make sure you are successful moving forward. To help you out with this, I’ve developed a list of the 5 missteps women make when trying to change their life. I’ve also included the “fix” to those mistakes, so you don’t get caught. To get those 5 mistakes, click here, and I’ll send you the report.
Remember, the plan is critical. However, it must be a comprehensive plan to work. Take the time, don’t make these mistakes, and build your plan today! When you do, you’ll find yourself getting unstuck. Instead, you will be moving forward with clarity and purpose.
Have you ever been so engaged in a conversation you've lost track of time? Has that ever happened at work?
Are you engaged
No. Not the kind like you are going to get married. But yes, committed. Hooked.
Engaged might mean deeply engrossed in a project or conversation. You lose track of time. This level of engagement usually means you want to be there. That perhaps, yes you even enjoy being there.
Most people are disengaged
Did you know that less than 2/3 of the people in most organizations are NOT engaged?
As a leader, most days for me it honestly felt like
I think we can both agree there is something wrong with that statistic and with leaders feeling so frustrated. It needs to be changed! Let's take a look at what it takes to turn that around.
Do you listen to the sermon?
My minister often jokes that we can take a nap during his sermon. Sometimes, I'll be honest, my mind wanders, and I think about all of the other things I could be doing. But more often than not, I tune in and am engaged in what he's saying.
What if workplaces were Magnetic?
When I listen to my minister, he draws me into his message, vision and ideas. Imagine if leaders and organizations were magnetic and pulled people in like that? What if you could be more engaging with your team?
My magnetic experience
I remember one particularly difficult time when my team and I were working on a proposal.
I've been working with colleague Bill Scott over the last few years to create organizations that are Magnetic! We've just launched our website: THE MAGNETIC WORKPLACE. If you pop over there, you can grab our tips for engaging your team. Make sure to check out the page Understanding the Workplace Continuum where we explain the range of cultures in organizations from toxic to tolerable and then to yes, you guessed it... Magnetic!
Do you secretly love getting gifts as much as I do? Just little things, like a note from my granddaughter, a book from a friend or flowers from my daughter. These are little surprises that warm my heart.
I received a special gift!
You can then see how, when my boss showed up one day at my office with a gift for me, I was a little excited. I always felt like he didn't really appreciate me or notice me. To get a gift perhaps meant I'd done something worthy of standing out
You can imagine my surprise when I reached into the gift bag and felt....Ooooh, perhaps a mug! Oh, I do love mugs The excitement was building, although I tried to temper it. One shouldn't seem too eager right?
I pulled off the tissue paper and discovered it was indeed a mug. However, the smile of anticipation quickly slid off my face. I tried to smile, but I'm sure it was clear that the gift hurt my feelings.
Would this gift annoy you?
The inscription on the mug read: Pessimists Mug on one side. The opposite side had a line indicating "The glass is half empty now."
That mug sat on my bookshelf for a long time. It annoyed the crap out of me each time I looked at it I DID NOT want to be seen as a pessimist: A person who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy. The last thing I wanted was to be considered the team party pooper!
I set out to change that.
In my journal a short time later I wrote:
It must have worked because fast forward a couple of years, and that same boss didn't say I was optimistic, but he did write this about me:
Which way do you see me?
Fast forward a few more years...this week to be precise and our annual awards banquet at Toastmasters. I received an award for “Enduring Optimism” Yeah! THAT is the impact I want to have on others.
None of this happened by accident. I created a plan. I began reading books that helped with my attitude, outlook and view of myself and the world. I took training that helped me see problems from new perspectives. I journaled and started a gratitude practice.
I became Response-ABLE!
What is holding you back?
What have you been waiting for? Someone to give you permission, or pay for your training? Have you been waiting for the right time? You need to stop waiting and become response-able! You can respond and change what you don't like about yourself, your work or your world. You must decide though and begin taking steps.
I set out to change myself in many ways. I completed my degree, lost weight and developed leadership skills. But the thing I am most proud of is becoming the TYPE of person I want to be. I want to be a positive influence in the world, in your life and in mine. That started when I decided to work on my character traits. It's a journey I continue to this day.
Do want to work on your character traits as well?
To understand more about character development and how you can shape yours read this blog and watch this interview series from other women leader's who are working at it as well!
You must do the inner work! That is truly what will make a difference in your life and your leadership!
Has this ever happened to you? You know something is wrong, but you don't do anything about it?
But you don't do anything about it.
Why don't you, or so many women, address these issues?
Before I answer that question, let's look at an example of a woman who is no longer staying quiet about injustices faced by her and other women in the fundraising sector.
Last week Elizabeth LeClair courageously wrote an article for CBC News addressing an issue that had been festering in her heart and mind for years. Read the article here:
Why did Elizabeth come forward now?
What changed? What gave her the courage and confidence to do that?
I don't know. But let me take a guess:
Having the courage to address moral issues can be scary and challenging. We see people have moral courage when something shifts for them.
Is there something you have been holding back on addressing?
What needs to shift for you? Do you need to develop more confidence, connect with other supportive people, get clear on what your values, morals and ethics are, spend time on personal development or is there something else?
When will you take action to grow yourself,
so that you can address the issues that's been aggravating far too long?
Think of it this way:
If you keep waiting for things to change, they won't. Nothing changes until you change. That may be learning something new, changing your perspective, changing how you interact with others or even changing jobs. But if you keep waiting, you will continue staying, stuck, right where you are!
What would happen if you decided to try something different?
Use Elizabeth's example as inspiration for you:
I suspect that Elizabeth decided she didn't want to stay stuck in that place of inner turmoil any longer. She decided to try something different. I'm certain that took time. But somewhere along the way she started the process of growing herself and making an internal shift that allowed her to take external action. She explains in this article:
Start now, my dear. Take the first step, whatever that step is for you, to being to grow yourself from the inside out. Equip yourself with the confidence and knowledge to address whatever issue is facing you. It won't be easy. But there are a ton of other women cheering you on, me included!
What goals have you set for this year?
I'm doing a mini survey to see what kinds of goals women leaders set for themselves both at work and in their personal lives. I'm curious about yours. Message me and share your goals with me.
What plan do you have for achieving those goals?
Now onto your plan for achieving your goals. Wait...let me back up. You do have goals right? I am not talking about random, vague New Years Resolutions such as I'm going to be healthier this year or I'm going to be a nicer person. I am talking about specific goals.
Are you the type that doesn't set goals? Think again!
We all need goals. It is when we have goals and targets that we perform at our best. You know this simply by thinking about how good you are at getting something done at the "11th hour."
And...Do you have a plan to go with your goal?
Targets and goals are critical, but your goals are dead in the water if you don't have a strategic plan for how you will achieve them.
If you don't know that you will head to the gym at 5:30 on Mon - Wed - Fri.,
how do you know you will fit into that dress?
You need an implementation plan...
When the clock strikes 5 pm, I will pack up my stuff, leave the office and head to the gym.
You need a strategy to help you implement your plan
An implementation plan is how you will establish the habit of working out...which performed consistently over time, regardless of your workload or how motivated you feel...is what will allow you to achieve your goal. It's the small daily habits that help you to achieve your goals.
It is the plan and your strategy that will allow you to establish those habits!
Do your goals include becoming a stronger leader?
If your goal is to become a stronger, more confident and capable leader, how will you achieve that goal?
The book that will help you and me kick butt on our goals this year!
If you have been following my logic here, you realize that one of the things you need to focus on is building good habits. Habits are the bricks that when compounded over time allow you to achieve your goal.
I'd love to hear about your goals for 2019 and when you start to read Atomic Habits, let me know how you are applying the ideas!
Here's to an amazing 2019! ??
Available on Amazon
Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.