Monday, October 31, 2011

What challenges have you faced in your career?

That's the question I'm being asked tomorrow during a panel discussion on Women in Leadership.

It's a question often posed to a panel and that can be answered in many ways. I'm thinking about being completely honest in my response. This is hard because, while I've faced certain things, I'm not sure I always dealt with them well. One can only cope as best one can at that point in time; some of my "points in time" were not always very successful.

I've faced being an anglophone, albeit bilingual, in a francophone society during a stressful time. At 16, I handled a bomb threat... by calling my father for advice since at the time I figured the police might not be very sympathetic given the political climate/time/place.

My name is seen often as a man's name so folks expect a man to show up. (some amusing stories behind that statement...)

I've been a single parent for most of my adult life which is hard at the best of times (regardless of gender)... Ever try and make an 8am meeting when a 4 year old doesn't want to go to daycare on time? That job suggested very strongly that if I was going to show up at 8:02, then I should "examine my priorities." I did; I don't work there anymore.

I have had two major depressions - another topic not comfortably discussed in the workplace. My son was being bullied just as I had an opportunity to take a promotion that required some travel. I went through a divorce while working full time. I've had managers who tried to "grab" me and some who just liked to yell. And these are just the challenges I am willing to put to paper!

None of the above is extraordinary. Folks have been through as much if not more. Luckily, it's not a contest. We are the stars of our own show and when life is not going well, regardless of the reason, it simply feels miserable.

I've learned two very valuable lessons though:

  1. I can get through almost anything. 
    • Life will change again. The future will hold more good, bad and indifferent moments. I promise myself to do the best I can at the time and not wish I was more than I am.
  2. I don't have to do it alone.
    •  I have a community. Communities work best when they are interactive which includes letting them help.
I have years ahead of me still in my career and the challenge I'm most looking forward to? ... capturing the stories so I can laugh about them after.

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