Today’s post is mostly written for the ladies. But, I think it’s helpful for men and women… so, if you are a male reader, stay on… share it with a lady you care for.
I just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. In the book she addresses the challenges that women have in the working world. (She’s the Facebook COO and gave a fantastic talk on the subject at TED.) She addresses the idea that women can limit themselves in terms of their careers. It’s addressed to women in a more corporate setting. But I do think there are a lot of applicable lessons for women business owners also. Let’s change the things we can control about ourselves in the working world.
One mistake that Sheryl addresses and that I see women in our industry do all the time is ‘leaving before they leave’… meaning that women leave their jobs before they have to leave. Sheryl has noted that women stop short on career goals with the idea that they will someday have children. She sees women who have come in fresh out of college to a challenging position with a lot of opportunity and not reached for the next level of opportunity because they may someday have children. They wonder how the children will fit into that load of responsibility and they leave (they mentally check out.)
I agree that I see this too. I will confess that I did this with my own career when I was younger. While still in college I already started thinking about how I would fit a baby into my accounting career eventually. I guess I like to plan. But, this is limiting. I subconsciously (and consciously) limited myself with the what-ifs and when-ifs. SO SILLY when I think back to it! (And – I like to believe that I self-corrected in the last few years.)
In our industry, I see women who stop selling themselves and their services when they decide to start a family. Starting a family is the most important thing you will likely do in your life. No doubt there. But – there are so many variables at play. Sure – it could happen in a quick 9 months if you are lucky. (It happened to me that way with my #1.) Or – it could take 3 years. (It happened like that for me with #2. And – I had a miscarriage in between.) There are so many things that happen in this family plan that are not in anyone’s control… don’t leave before you have to leave. And – then – when it’s time to finally take that leave – make the best decision for your family… take a solid maternity leave, and decide how your work will change and what you want to change about it.
You have a LONG lead time to think and plan for this sort of thing. YES – I know – you may get booked for a wedding 18 months out. And – if you get pregnant next month – then what? Well – then you adjust. (This is why it’s good to have a solid contract, a back-up plan, damage control, and colleagues that can jump in.) BUT – do NOT stop selling yourself and your business until that time comes. Keep reaching for those opportunities!
What do you think? Have you found yourself in this situation? Share in a comment below.
Here’s is Sheryl’s TED talk… which I LOVE… so many great nuggets in here on this topic on a broader scale:
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