Women in the workforce. A boring, crusty old topic of conversation, am I right? Well, maybe so, but perhaps there is still more to learn. More to explore. A new cultural norm to ponder.
Many women still want ‘it all’. We want family and we want a career. So, this must mean that we should strive for a mediocre career goal at work, running on autopilot, biding our time before we get married. Once children enter the picture, you simply don’t have the energy (and sometimes the will) to return to work with gusto. So, setting a good pace before we have children is a good goal, yes?
But what if we set the bar a bit higher? What if we fully engaged ourselves with massive momentum and intent from the start? What if we drove change, honoured creativity, stood firm with clear vision and belief? What if we became the kind of leaders that inspire with every conversation, be it in the elevator or behind the podium? Imagine the kind of impression would that leave, even if we knew that in a few years we would be off on maternity leave and preoccupied by family.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook speaks in her TED talk of the need to encourage women to ‘lean in’. Instead of sitting back both literally and figuratively in our careers, we must engage. Share your ideas, partake in big conversations, seek promotions, set big goals. Don’t shortchange yourself… what you think about, you bring about. If you don’t believe in your potential, you lessen your ability to make an impact.
I have often felt like I may not be ‘ready’ for a particular promotion. My husband informed me last night that this is a disparity that exists between most men and women in the workplace. He said “Men will take a job even if they don’t know what the hell they are doing. They are confident that they will just figure it out as they go.” He believes that women often need to feel like they are fully prepared: armed and organized. As a result, we often let huge opportunities pass us by.
Perhaps this is a character trait and not gender-specific? Maybe it is more simple and directly related to self-confidence. Either way, are we showing everyone our true potential? Are we on cruise control or really giving every moment, every day, our very best with the goal of huge personal and professional achievement? “Less mediocrity, more mastery.” -as Robin Sharma puts it.
Women have amazing life experience to bring to the table before, and particularly after, having children. So even if your goal is to spend a few years on and off maternity leave raising a family, make them yearn to have you back at work. Make them remember how amazing it felt to have you there. When you return and you choose to set those big goals…never look back.