Change happens for us all every day. We do not always realize how much change hits us on a day-to-day basis, often because of how we handle the change. At some level we all have a bit of dislike to change. Some individuals are more flexible than others, some are more set in their ways or routines, and yet others relish the freedom and excitement of having things constantly changing in life.
Whatever level of tolerance we have for change, we often do not have a choice of if it happens to us. Whether that means changes at work, at home, with our family, there is change that happens by choice and change that we would rather not come close to with a ten foot pole. These past few weeks for me have been emotional to one extent (thank you hormones) and a little nerve-racking on another level. I know I am not the first woman to have a baby, and I know (because everyone tells you) that my life is about to change in numerous ways. Some of those changes will be amazing, and some will knock me on my ass.
I have to say that what has been hardest (besides my body no longer being mine, the endless peeing, and little to no sleep because of the endless peeing) has been being a professional woman with a team. When you read about others that go on maternity leave, they talk about the baby side of it, but what they do not really talk often about is what it is like for the working mom. I have been working since I was 9 years old. I had a paper route, and babysat kids in the neighborhood. This means that I have been working non-stop for the last 28 years. The most time I have taken off (other than a period when I was laid off), is the two weeks I took for my wedding/honeymoon. I have never not worked for a longer period than that.
Now, judge me all you want, as I think some mothers might — when I say it is going to be hard for me to be away from work. There are some pretty involved and intense projects happening in the coming months and, while I have the most amazing team, it does not make it easy for me to be away from it all. I have poured my heart into the work and my team, and having a child does not necessarily change my dedication to my work. Sure, some of my priorities will change when I meet Mini Conk, but I also want to raise a son that not only understands the importance of hard work, but also sees that I have an identity that is different from just being a mom.
Folks rarely talk about how hard it is for a working mom, instead I see more judgement that my place as a mom is at home with my son. Why should I have to choose, and why should I be judged for how I want to live my life? As more and more women have leadership positions at companies, not only do the rights for women having children need to change, so does the behavior for how we treat women that work and want to do both.
All day Wednesday I thought it was Thursday. All day Thursday I wished it was Friday. It is not that I do not enjoy my days and nights but for some reason I was just off by a day and somehow that just made the week different. Now that it is Friday, I am ecstatic. I am ready for a weekend. I need some time to rest, reflect, relax, and recharge. Why is it the words that help us to replenish start with re? Alas, it has just been a full ass week.
Last night I was frustrated. There are times in life when I see those close to me (friends, family, Chris) struggle with situations they encounter in life. It is my nature to want to listen, help, synthesize the information and then try to fix or help find a solution for the situation. In recent months I have struggled a bit as there is someone close to me that has been struggling and there is not a solution that has surfaced. At times I find that I get frustrated because this individual is an amazing person, dedicated, does their best at all they do, and somehow they still get the shitty end of the deal.
I struggle because while I want to think that there are others looking out for each of us, the cards they continue to get dealt seem to show that no one is looking out for them, and they are on their own. Everything they try to do they find roadblocks along the way. Some are large and hard to imagine getting around, and others are numerous small roadblocks that gradually erode self-esteem and passion for life. It reminds me of the question: “Why do bad things repetitively happen to good people?” I know we all have lessons we have to learn, and while I am not sure what the lesson is for them, I am ready for a change to happen.
As humans we usually tend to balk at change happening. We struggle with it, but what happens when all we want is change and it never happens? Of course we could quickly rip the massive band aid off, but what if that is not really what needs to happen? I start with thinking that patience is the first step. What if you have been patient for months and months? What happens next?
The first day of school. It always had a degree of dread and a degree of excitement. What was my teacher going to be like? What would it be like to see and reconnect with different friends? How had people changed over the summer? How would we all fit together in this new year and new adventure?
The first day of school is very much like the first day of a new job. You may have no idea what your world is going to be like. While the job might be similar to your last role, the people, the leadership, and the team dynamics can make your day-to-day light years different. It is good for us to have these moments of change, newness and growth. That does not mean, however, that it is easy or that being the newbie comes naturally to any of us.
Just like the first day of school is like the first day of a new job, the bullying and politics that happen in school happen in the professional world. Individuals have agendas, sometimes you get picked first and sometimes you get picked last. There is competition, and sometimes that means that those you thought had your back, really do not. The only difference between school and a job, is being a kid and being an adult. Somehow we are all learning more about ourselves. What we are willing to stand up for and what makes us keep our mouth shut.
Since the school year is about to start, what are you going to do differently? Just because you might be in the same job for the last year or years does not mean you have to be stuck in a rut. Think of August as your new year. Who are you going to befriend or be less afraid of? Who are you going to stand up to? Get out your Trapper Keeper and start doodling. Come up with three ways you are going to change. Mine are:
_Listen more, talk less
What will yours be? Trapper Keeper, iPad, or old-school typewriter… make a note and decide: What are you going to stand for?
I have often been called tenacious. I never really liked it. I find it is a word that people do not really know the true meaning. Having a tenacious grip, a strong hold on something, not easily letting go or giving up. Yes, I would say that is me, but I always felt those definitions spun the word with a negative hint to it. That it meant you were more inflexible or strong-willed more than anything. So when I recently read Seth Godin’s 5 sentence blog post on tenacity and persistence, it was an eye-opening moment. He says:
“Tenacity is not the same as persistence. Persistence is doing something again and again until it works. It sounds like ‘pestering’ for a reason. Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work. Telemarketers are persistent, Nike is tenacious.”
It makes sense doesn’t it? Godin makes persistence almost sound like the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results). It makes me wonder, are we all actually more tenacious than we think? Has the word had a bad rap, or is it just me that has associated negative connotation to “tenacious?”
So often (as I mentioned in my blog on change last week) we get stuck in the rut of old ways and forget that each new project deserves a fresh look. It might not make sense to follow the same process anymore. It is always appropriate to ask yourself, are we doing this because it is the way it has always been done, or because we have not stopped to update and change? If the old way is not working, change it. If the newer ways are stale, change them. My old way of viewing tenacious has been changed. Check.
I am a strong believer that if you go the extra mile, try a bit harder, and imagine big possibilities that you are on the path to shifting thought and making change. I do not like to keep things at the status quo. I like to push the envelope just a bit. Not too much that people cannot handle it, but just enough that hopefully we move others a bit closer to a better situation. It takes quite a bit of work, dedication, perseverance, and often a lot of push back to those that do not want to change. Oh, yes, and a lot of accountability.
How often do we stay in a job that does not challenge us because it is just easier to stay, because we are afraid to change things? I have been in that very situation, and I can tell you first hand, leaving was the best thing for me. It might sound cliché, but that change and my willingness to say okay life this is where things are at, bring it on, has led me to many, many opportunities, and tons and tons of cool people along the way. Individuals who challenge me, inspire me, comfort me, and make me laugh. They are in my life because my life changed.
Have you ever avoided having a conversation because it is easier? Tough conversations are exhausting, they zap us of energy, and often times make us want to run the other way. But we get through them, and each one changes us. Change often is swirling in my thought because it is a big part of the work I do each day. Helping others adapt to change, preparing them for change, and sustaining the change. So when Seth Godin’s blog on change called: “Every presentation worth doing has just one purpose” was finally reached in my inbox (I am so very behind on emails, blog reading, and the general news happening in the world), I thought, oh Seth you are speaking to my thoughts. He says: “A presentation that doesn’t seek to make change is a waste of time and energy.” I thought wow, if we only thought about that ALL the time, maybe our day-to-day meetings would be more engaging and inspiring.
I am going to try to approach my work in that way. How can I move the bar closer to success for others, closer to understanding their role, closer to having change stick? I usually try to approach projects thinking: what would success look like? But what if now I spend a bit of time before each presentation, and assess what change I might want to happen? How would I approach the presentation differently? Can I present in a way that means I will be able to plan what I need to do to get individuals to shift their thought?