Monday, November 30, 2015

A woman's life - danger

It doesn't matter where we live, how old we are or how well we fit society's view of beauty - danger is present in every woman's life.

For some it will be the extremes of poverty, being barred from education, denied a voice at the most rudimentary of tables. For some it will be less public and be in the corners of what should be safe homes and families. For others it will be random: working for a jerk or being female and in the wrong place at the wrong time (for this I still take a moment of silence for the Montreal Ecole Polytechnique massacre on Dec.6, 1989).

For some, it will simply be the burden of depression for reasons that are personal and/or reflective of a world where being different and feeling alone creates a stigma that can be unbearable.

I recently had a stalker. It was a creepy, unpleasant time. A male friend commented that he had experienced three stalkers in his lifetime and yet I felt no camaraderie. I twitched when folks stood too close to me in public spaces. The tree branch knocking on my window was no longer comforting. A male voice became "other" when I couldn't see the speaker. It was not the first or most extreme menace I had seen in my life; it was a reminder that that threats are constant in every woman's life. Sometimes we are lucky enough to forget for a while but that's a small percentage of us.

That was my recent small window into danger. As the darkness of our days gets longer, take the hand of your friends as they walk alone. Mentor in other countries. Give to charities that support women and children breaking cycles of violence and poverty. We are one world and everyone deserves a voice, safety and support.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Nothing is like starting a new job

Between the adrenaline rush of not knowing what to expect (people, assignments, fires, etc.) and the satisfaction in knowing you were the "chosen" one, a new assignment is a sure way to get your mind running, heart racing and adrenaline pumping.

It's like a first date, a new living space or travel to a new place.

Then in comes the day to day reality. Defining the mandate and how much is actually expected - too small? too large? too little? too much? Learning to wake up day after day to the same faces and opinions is never easy.

One mentoree and I were talking about this last week. The question was not how to keep the excitement or even to deal with the excitement wearing off; the question was how to keep our own brand from being lumped into the "same face/opinion" bucket.

Consider this: if we are predictable in our reception of new ideas and our execution/questioning of existing processes, are we still contributing at the level that had us selected for the job to begin with?

A new assignment takes all our focus; our daily job sees us compiling grocery lists in our head during meetings. Perhaps there is a middle ground. Perhaps we need to ask "why" on a regular basis and listen to the answers. By appearing interested, not assuming and welcoming input at the same high rate as entering a position, we can stay the preferred candidate and keep our own interest and growth higher?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Keep reading!

The glorious part (not the painful part) about hurting my back the past few months was all the time to lie around, eat chips and read till my eyes saw double. Books, blogs, articles, questionnaires, research papers... you name it, I devoured it. (thus the need to now get off my duff and stop eating chips...)

A few things I learned:
1 - Headlines do not tell the story. Headlines are there to get us to read the story. Half the time the headlines are more interesting that the story.

The issue is that folks take the headlines and quote them. Take this headline: Research Says Women Don't Actually Want to Be Promoted. I can just see some folks taking that headline and quoting it as a 'fact.' Yet, the deeper I read in the research, the more it was about the fact that women are more cognizant of the balance required between outside commitments and growth in professional responsibility. We are not saying we don't 'want' the promotion; we weigh more pros /cons before accepting. "It's not because the women surveyed couldn't get the leadership roles either. In fact, there was no doubt they could “realistically attain” the same success as their male counterparts, but it was just lower on their list of priorities; “they have more life goals than men do.”"

2 - While articles geared to men rarely mix the personal and professional, articles for women seem to take it for granted that we can't leave our sexuality at home. (not that we should but that's another debate and a personal choice). "

"Depressing Study Reveals the Age Men Find Women Most Attractive"  Suprise, it's 29...

3 - A lot of what's out there tries to create a problem that does not necessarily exist or pretend it's a brand new problem/solution. My favourite headline for this is "Here’s Unequivocal Proof That Men Can Be Feminists Too" Were men complaining that no one was allowing their entry? Were women doubting they had male support? Was anyone demanding proof? Who were the doubters and how did they get air time over discussions on solutions and ideas?

Keep reading. Keep asking questions. Keep the conversations going!