You Are Super Mom

 

Proud Mom as Super Mother on Green ScreenWhen we lived in Rochester I admired my new friend Mona. We both had young children, I had my two boys Abe my 5 year old and Sammy my hyperactive 18 month old. Mona had 4 children, she was very active at our place of worship. She was cheerful, always volunteering to teach, her dishes for potluck dinners were delicious, she ran the women’s study group, and was beautifully dressed.

 

I did my best to volunteer as much as I could, but it was a struggle. The process of getting the boys into snow boots, jackets, finding mittens, and securing car and booster seats was tedious and painful, particularly when it was 4 degrees out. We had a comfortable house, but I could never quite catch up with the laundry, Lego‘s, Magna doodles, and boys socks were usually all over the floor, and the elegant master bathtub was full of rubber toys.

 

We had a happy and full life, but I always felt I wasn’t doing enough, like the other moms, like my friend Mona. I thought she was some kind of Super Mom.

 

Mona invited me over with my boys for lunch and a play date. She said to follow her by car after a meeting at our place of worship. While I was buckling my boys into their car seats, Mona quickly finished settling her kids in her van and was waiting for me to follow her out of the parking lot. As I followed her to her house I noticed her daughter was walking around in Mona’s van. No wonder she got out of the parking lot so fast, she didn’t put her kids in a car seat! We entered Mona’s house, the walls were covered with crayon and pencil scribbles from her kids, it was horrible looking. We had lunch, and I tried to diplomatically tell Mona that she had to buckle her kids up in the car, when I was distracted by her son sticking a pencil into an electrical outlet that was not “baby proofed”.

 

After that visit, I decided to be happy with the amount of time I volunteered outside of my home. Mona was a nice lady, but she wasn’t living a balanced life. Even though I couldn’t donate as many hours as my friends I decided I am Super mom.

 

The Real Life of Comments on Social Media

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I’ve seen so many trolls, and snarky comments online that I think I’m pretty immune to them at this point.  Some people are seriously emboldened by their anonymity, and that makes them say things online and on social media that they would never, ever say to someone face to face.  That can be a deadly mistake.  Unfortunately, what most people don’t realize is that once they post something online, it lives nearly forever.  People can take screen captures of what has been posted, and store those, and publicize them, but the websites themselves are legally bound to keep the data for a very, very long time.  So, a comment may be deleted, but it still exists in your user history.  Think you can delete your user ID and have the information go away?  Not so fast.  That information is kept as well.

That means that the stupid comment you made?  Oh, it just stays around forever.  The kid who told my daughter on Instagram “If you post about my man again, and I’ll gouge your eyes out”?  Well, even though he regretted that comment, and deleted, isn’t going to do him any good.  We’ve got screen captures of it, showing it came from his userid.  If it ever came down to a court case, then well, the police would simply subpoena the logs of what he’s posted anywhere.  Yes.  That stupid comment you made as a teenager, in the heat of the moment?  It lives on forever.  It can follow you forever.  Threatening my daughter for posting a picture of an idol?  Not so smart either.

Let me state that again.  Comments you make online, send via text, email, or other electronic means, live on for a very long time.  It doesn’t matter if you delete those comments, because the records and logs of those are there, forever.  It’s a federal law.  It also sucks, because when I was a teenager, stupid stuff we said maybe ended up in a fist fight.  Make a comment like that on social media, and you can land yourself in jail, with a record.  There is no margin for error.  For adults or for kids.

Watch what you say online.  Treat it all as public, because it might as well be.  Know that the stupid comment you make can and will live on forever.  Oh, and I might decide to use you as an example in my blog.

 

 

 

 

Restoring Order in the Post Baby Chaos

English: Coral Sea (July 15, 2005) - Aviation ...

English: Coral Sea (July 15, 2005) – Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Mary Lynch of Norwalk, Calif., works out with fellow air department Sailors in the hangar bay aboard the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Group physical fitness training is conducted three times a week for Kitty Hawk Sailors to improve their physical fitness and quality of life. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jimmy C. Pan (RELEASED) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My youngest is just about to turn 18 months.  18 long months after having a baby – and my life has not restored order.  But being number 4, this isn’t my first rodeo with restoring order after having a baby.  Here are some steps I find helpful in restoring order to my life post baby.

1) Don’t look down

Afraid of heights, I’m fine when I look up and take a step at a time.  But if I look down the entire task becomes overwhelming.

There were so many ways I spent my time before this last baby. I was running regularly (20-25 mi/wk).  I also attended exercise classes at work and even found time for additional workouts.  On top of all that physical fitness, I found time for pleasure reading and spending quiet time in the morning reading my Bible. I had a social life and friends.  I think about all the things I did and sometimes feel overwhelmed with finding time for all of this again.  That was 2 years ago.  This is now.  As with any monumental task, pick a place and work on that one thing.  Contemplating where I was will get me nowhere.  Contemplating where I need to be and how to get there (an actionable plan) absolutely will.

2) Follow-through

In high school I did archery. In fact, I was state champion two years running.  One of the mantras in archery was FOLLOW THROUGH!  If you lowered the bow immediately after shooting the arch of the arrow was affected and the mark was never hit.

Goals are great – but they certain do not happen by themselves.  What will it take to achieve them?  In my case, I really want to spend some quiet time in the morning.  This means setting my alarm earlier, going to bed earlier and giving up those snoozes.  Right now, I’m actually just showering earlier because I’m working on changing my natural body clock.  In order to have effective quiet time in the morning – I can’t be a zombie.  I felt like this morning was a win when I woke up a minute before my alarm. It has taken a lot of personal will power to not hit the snooze.  I’m following through by getting my tush out of bed.

3) Keep on keeping on

Be realistic.  In my case, I’ve got a baby.  I can’t expect life to be just exactly like it was in 2 months.  In fact, if I’m completely honest with myself I know that it takes a solid year to return to any kind of normalcy post baby.  It is one long year of life rebuilding, of adding things on a bit at a time.  Everything from figuring out how to eat or shower with a baby to going back to work. And LORD HELP US ALL if the house needs to be clean on top of it all.  It all takes time.  The only way to get there is to keep trying.  The best way to never get there is to quit or give up.

And in the spirit of being realistic – I also know that there are some things I probably will not accomplish for many years to come.  I’d love to learn to knit.  I want to make cute baby blankets and baby hats.  I have come to the conclusion there is a reason little old ladies make these things and not working mothers…some day, I will have time for these things.

This is the longest I’ve ever taken to get back to me.  This past year I haven’t even done simple hobbies like photographing my children with my beloved Cannon.  This latest baby has been my caboose.  And cherishing every minute of his babyhood was important to me.  But as we exit that babyhood – I’m finally feeling ready to begin tackling the subject of me.  My next goal (after restoring my morning quiet time) will be exercise.  I dearly miss running and have a Garmin watch that has been calling my name…

Seeking Bloggers

English: Two girls seeking shadow on Bodnath T...

English: Two girls seeking shadow on Bodnath Temple. Bodnath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the area of Kathmandu, Nepal. Français : Deux filles recherchent l’ombre au temple de Bodnath. Ce temple de la région de Katmandou, au Népal, est l’un des lieux les plus saints du bouddhisme. Italiano: Due ragazze cercano riparo all’ombra sul tempio di Bodnath. Bodnath è uno dei più sacri siti buddisti nell’area di Kathmandu, Nepal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re looking to grow Leadership Girl Blog.  We’re seeking bloggers, experts, writers, and others who can make a meaningful, and interesting contribution to our blog.  If you would please pass this along to your friends who are witty, fun, sarcastic, and a great leadership influence on those around them, we’d like to talk to them.  Please share this with your friends, and send them to us.  Please email resumes for anyone who is interested to haley@leadershipgirl.com

 

Fashion and the (Real) Working World

African Businesswoman

I started binge watching Suits on Netflix recently.  Working in the legal world, I was immediately drawn into the intrigue, back room deals and manic world of Pearson Specter.  The $1,000 suits on the men, the Manolos and pencil skirts on the women…gorgeous.

But…let’s talk about real clothes for real working women.

First all, if you are a working mom and can look even 20% like any of the women on Suits – you are my hero.  Truly.  I can’t even come close.  Most days I’m lucky if I can make it out of the house dressed.  And I don’t even have really young children.

If you’re anything like me, deciding what to wear to the office is a confusing, frustrating, mind-numbing exercise.

Let’s start with the pencil skirts.  What are the chances that you have a clean, neatly laundered and pressed skirt just hanging in your closet?  I thought so.  Wearing a skirt requires maintenance so, the big question – have you shaved your legs recently?  That will be the difference between going bare-legged, wearing sheer pantyhose or the thickest tights you can find in the drawer. Which leads to digging through said drawer to find a pair that doesn’t have a huge “how-on-earth-did-that-get-there” hole in it.

Now, let’s talk shirts.  I don’t know about your office but mine seems to be able to only maintain one temperature – 2 degrees below meat locker.  Which means that all of those lovely short-sleeved or sleeveless tops must be covered up with whatever sweater you have hanging in the office or, even better, the “office sweater”.  You know the one – the one that is so ugly the person who retired 5 years ago wouldn’t even take with them.  And in a lovely shade of orange/puce/brown that goes with everything.

Next, the shoes…ah, the shoes.  I love shoes, any and all kinds but anything with over a half and inch heel makes my knees and feet cry.  The 3 and 4 inches heels, make my back cry.  I honestly don’t know how I used to wear those.  How do the heels look?  Do they need to be cleaned?  Did you manage to pick the one pair of heels that make that annoying “clip, clop, thump” sound as you walk down the hallway past the boss’ office?  Or, for those of us who live in the colder climates – what are the chances we left those shoes at the office to change into from our boots or should be bring yet another pair?

Accessories? There is this woman that I work with that has the most amazing necklaces and somehow manages to pair them with just the right earrings and for fun, throws in a bracelet or a watch. Me?  I really try hard every morning to remember to put on earrings that match. The only accessory I can truly say that I will always be wearing is my Fitbit Flex.  It’s hot pink and goes with nothing but counts steps and calories and let’s me eat more so I’m good with it.

The next time you look out your office window and you see that woman – you know, the one in the perfect pencil skirt, with the sleeveless shirt, the gorgeous heels and the pearls – remember, she’s either just stepped off a movie set or she’s on holidays.

Leading From Within

Villagers proudly walk across the Chutu Bridge...

Villagers proudly walk across the Chutu Bridge to mark its official opening Dec. 30, 2008. The Chutu Bridge connects Saraw village to commerce opportunities in the Del Rawod district leading to economic prosperity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A lot of times you’re going to see problems with an organization that you work with.  Honestly, you’ll probably always see opportunities for improvement.  The easiest way to get to real, sustained improvement is by leading from within the organization.  Pointing out the problems doesn’t solve them.  Finding ways to actually solve those problems, building coalitions, and teams, and coming up with solutions is the way to effect real, lasting change.

One easy example of this that I can give you is the number of girls on the wait list for Girl Scouts.  There are more girls that need quality opportunities for troops than there are troops available.  So, rather than comment on it, and ignore the problem, I am starting a brownie troop this fall.  More than that, I will be working with those parents to identify patrol leaders within the troop, so that we can split into manageable size groups, and plan the year out for the girls.  By not expecting someone to just step up and lead an entire troop, but to take a small piece, it becomes more manageable for those parents.  It’s easy to get small pieces of consent than large ones from people. But that’s a whole other psychological study.

So, I see a problem, and I’m finding ways to solve the the problem by leading within.  I’m building a model for how I think things should work, and exerting leadership.  I’m also getting more people on my side, because I recognize that I’m only one person.  It takes a lot of adult involvement to have successful programs for our kids, so I’m working on that as well.

Of course, I’ve seen lots of opportunities in my career to make changes in organizations by leading from within.  At my last job, I found that building relationships with other groups, and crossing those boundaries was key.  I had to make those changes from within the organization, and get them to hold, so that we could work together.  I had to convince two parties with differing priorities to work together peacefully, and exert that pressure on both, by leading from within and in between both groups.

I think that you’ll find that in many cases, leading from within will achieve the changes and results that you want to see, rather than trying to do it from above.  I could tell people all day long to start troops.  But it’s much easier if they see me along side them, rolling up my sleeves.  That has been the case in most things in my life and in my career.  It’s a powerful tool.  Use it well.

7 Tips To Be An A Player

Rise above the noise

I think that in our lives there are many opportunities to get ahead, and many ways to fall behind.  Becoming a top performer, or an A player in the work environment and at home are rewarding, fun, and will make a lot of things go easier for you.  It’s almost like you will get the secret keys to the kingdom when you follow these tips.  Some of them are so super simple as to be obvious.  They are simple, obvious, and yet, not everyone follows them.  People we’ve let go, or other people I’ve worked with have consistently failed to heed these tips.

7 Tips To Be An A Player

  1. When given a task, acknowledge it’s receipt.  Simple, highly effective, and super easy to do, right?  You can acknowledge with a simple “got it, I’m on it”, or “got it, it’s going to take me a couple of days to size it, and I’ll get back to you”.  It doesn’t mean that you’re done.  Just that you know you got the assignment. Why is this so important?  Well, for one, it tells me that it isn’t going to get missed in email.
  2. Do what you say.  Say what you’ll do.  If someone asks you to do something, and you acknowledge that you’re on it, then understand that you need to finish that task.  Forgetting about it, and letting it get lost in the shuffle isn’t a good idea.  Make sure you keep track of tasks handed to you until they are either done, or your boss tells you to take them off the plate.
  3. Ask for clarification and prioritization.  If you get a new task in, and are busy, and are handed something else, then check with your manager, or boss to see which one you should focus on first.  Managers are human too, and sometimes they fail to take into account everything that you are working on.
  4. Keep your manager in the loop.  Sometimes things don’t happen the way they’re supposed to.  Depending on your industry, that could happen very often.  Make sure that your manager is in the loop, and knows what you’re working on.  Yes, sending status reports seems stupid sometimes, and even redundant.  Get over it.  Send the status report.
  5. Use your time wisely.  Do the things with the greatest ROI first.  And email, while it’s a necessary evil means that it shouldn’t be all you do.  If you are in sales, visit accounts that will bring referrals, not necessarily the ones that make you feel good.  And attending marketing events isn’t getting you those referrals, either, since all of those people are also looking for referrals.
  6. Figure out what the next move should be, and take it.  I appreciate employees who can see what is going on around them, and who are able to act on it.
  7. They rise above the noise around them.  The best employees are going to take punches as they come, and they are also going to ignore the crazy, silly stuff that other people do.  Sometimes, it’s the customers, sometimes, it’s other groups within your company.  It doesn’t matter.  Stay well out of the fray, and avoid getting dragged down into that mess.  It is a mess, and treat it as such.  Your opinion will be well respected and heard if you ever do have a problem, because your manager will know it’s not you, because you’re drama-free.

I’m sure that there are so many other tips I could add to this.  What are your favorite tips for becoming an A player at work?  Please don’t hesitate to add them in the comments below.  Did you notice how many of these tips were about communication?

Don’t Burn Those Bridges and 1 Tip to Build Them

Don't burn those bridgesThe world is an incredibly small place.  I can tell you countless stories of running across people in strange places from other parts of my life.  My husband and I have never directly worked together, yet have worked with many of the same people.  I used to work with Finney, and now I work with his Wife, Becky.  The point of this is- Don’t burn those bridges, whenever you are upset, mad, whatever, keep building bridges.  Keep building relationships, because they do go around and come around again.

Honestly, it can be incredibly tempting whenever you leave a phase of your life to move on to let people have it.  Switching schools?  Let the old administration and teachers have it!  Problem is, people remember stuff, particularly negative things.  That means that they are likely to come back to haunt you later.  Remember my comment about coming across people in other environments?  It happens.  People go different ways in life, and sometimes they don’t cross again.  Sometimes they do.

Life is about building relationships.  You may have heard by now that when you’re looking for a job, it’s not what you know, but who you know.  Build bridges, because you never know when you’re going to need them.  Keep going, because it’s important that you have as many friends as possible.  One simple example I’ll give you is my current business.  My employees have largely come from people I know, or people they know.  I found Becky through Finney.  Alisa was one of my dad’s caregivers.  And Christine, I met in Girl Scouts.  Many of our clients come from networking contacts we’ve built, or people we’ve known for years.

Building relationships is worth it.

Here’s your 1 Tip to Build Bridges

  • Meet people face to face.  Go out for coffee, for lunch, for dinner.  Meet them where they are.  Even if you’re in a technology job, or whatever, go out to lunch with former co-workers.  Meet new people, and go out.  Keep building, and watering those relationships.  People are important.  Real relationships are super important.  Women frequently don’t spend the time networking and building relationships, because they have families, and other concerns.

What do you think?  Have you ever benefitted from maintaining a relationship?

Leaving a Photo Legacy

Photographic proof that she was real

My mom passed away about three years ago.  One of the things I quickly realized as I went through family photos was that there were very few pictures of her anywhere.  Of the few pictures I had, many of them had her sticking her tongue out at the camera, or flipping a bird at whoever was behind the camera.  She didn’t like her picture taken.  She was, in reality, a beautiful person. As her child, being beautiful didn’t matter to me.  Just that it was my mommy.  To me, she was everything.  As the years crept on, I realized that I too, was refusing to have my picture taken.  Primarily, it’s because of my weight, and I also really don’t like the way I look.  My hair is frizzy, and curly, and it just… is my hair.

That meant, that in many of the previous few years, there were very few pictures of me either, because I was always careful to be the person taking the pictures, so no-one would guess.  I realized that would leave my children with a legacy of no pictures of their mother, or with their mother.  I also realized that had absolutely no professional head shots or other photos that I could use for any professional or semi-professional application.  It was at that point that I decided to get over myself, and start to have pictures taken.

In the past three years or so, I have had professional photos taken for head shots for work, and I’ve made a point of having family portraits taken.  I’m in those portraits.  My hair is still its usual crazy self.  And I’m still overweight.  But I stopped letting that keep me from having pictures taken.  I started posing for pictures, and actually taking selfies of myself.  No-one made fun of me.  I guess I look exactly like I do in real-life in pictures.  Love it or hate it, it still is.  It also sends a powerful message, particularly to my daughters, that I’m OK with how I look, and that they too should be OK with how they look.

_DSC1921It’s something that all of us as adult women should do- accept ourselves for who we are.  Even if we want to change something, still get photos taken.  Send a message that just because we don’t like how we look in pictures, we’re not going to shrink away from the camera, or refuse to have a picture taken.  Remember that actions speak louder than words, and if we tell our daughters and girls in general to cherish themselves for who they are, we need to do the same for ourselves.  It starts with pictures, and leaving a photo legacy of yourself.

 

 

The Fatal Mistake Many People Make

English: Gravestone of vocalist and prima donn...

English: Gravestone of vocalist and prima donna Emmi Schmidt (Emilie Schmidtová, 1836–1866) by sculptor Emanuel Max Česky: Náhrobní kámen operní pěvkyně a primadony Emmi Schmidt (Emilie Schmidtovové, 1836–1866) vytvořený sochařem Emanuelem Maxem z červeného karelského mramoru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had plenty of time watching new people in jobs over time, and it’s always interesting to see how they approach their jobs.  Many times, though, I see people who have huge goals, and they would like to achieve those goals yesterday.  The problem is that they fail to plan for exactly how much hard work, initiative, and leadership it is going to take to achieve those goals.  They come into a job over-entitled.  They expect to be handed the choice tasks, and be handed promotions, and many times are completely surprised when that doesn’t happen.  It is a fatal mistake many people make.

Please know that when you walk into a new job, especially early in your career, you’re going to be handed the worst, least desirable jobs.  How you handle those assignments will depend on where your career will go.  As you progress further, you can afford to direct what you want to do a little more than you could at first, but don’t think that you can completely pick and choose.  Do keep your manager in the loop on what you’d like to do, then do what you’re given with grace, and style.

If you are hungering for more, then you need to identify problems in the group or organization, and find ways to fix them.  Then set about fixing them.  If they are small issues, go ahead and fix them.  If they’re larger, make sure that your manager is on board with how you’re spending your time.  You will show your value to an organization by being able to identify and fix problems.  By working hard.

Forget being a prima-donna.  No-one wants to work with a prima-donna.  You know the kind- the ones who don’t want to be handed the tough assignments, who won’t work overtime, or who think that they are more valuable to the organization than they actually are.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you are overly valuable to an organization, unless you own it and run it.  Be humble, and work hard, and you’ll go much farther than someone who presumes too much.  Of course, you need to make sure that management and leadership know exactly how hard you’re working, and that they’re looking for it.  But, you will avoid that fatal mistake.