Empowering Women, Family, Grief, Reflection, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Being Grateful…Always

2017 and 2018 have been the most confusing, challenging, emotional, hardest, eye opening and unforgettable years of my life. Through it all, I have learned the meaning of gratitude – both receiving and giving.

As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, there are many conversations around being thankful. Thankfulness and gratitude are the sisters of appreciation. The meanings (to me) are slightly different but certainly aligned. I am thankful for so many things in my life – my family, my career, my health, and living in a country of a free democracy. 

Gratitude for me is a deeper emotion, a deeper feeling. I am thankful for my family but so grateful for how they have helped me manage the past 15 months. Always available, ready to listen, and simply be there for me. Thankful and so grateful!

Gratitude means an honest open appreciation and genuine candor for those things we are truly thankful for. The difference between being thankful and showing gratitude is well captured in this quote: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” -William Arthur Ward

As I pause and reflect – I am grateful for the following:

 My daughter and her amazing ability as a mom. I tell her often that she does a wonderful job with her children (my littles”) and how so very grateful I am to be able to watch her and be a part of her journey.
 My son. He is a warm, caring soul – a genuinely good person. I am so grateful for all he has done and continues to do for me and with me since Mark died. He was struggling with his own grief journey but has always taken time to check in with me and do things for me that needed to be done.
 My family – for letting me cry, for picking me up, for celebrating successes with me. I tell them how very much I appreciate and am so blessed for each of them. It takes a village!
 My colleagues – I work with great people who support me and let me be my transparent self. I can have a great day and a rough day – they are there. We laugh and sometimes I cry. They let me experience life without hiding behind a mask of perfection.
 I am grateful for the ability to share my stories and for each and every one of you that reads and perhaps reflects. I want to share to help others and am grateful to those of you who have told me my stories have made a difference to you.

Gratitude is a demonstrable emotion tied to thankfulness. As you sit down this week and think about what you are thankful for over Thanksgiving holiday – remember gratitude and let someone know how very grateful you are……a true Thanksgiving gift.

Here’s a Thanksgiving Gratitude Challenge for you: Every night this week, write a gratitude list with at least 5 things you’re grateful for. Try it out this week and see what it can do for you! And maybe it can be worked into your daily routine in the future!

Empowering Women, Leadership, Mentorship, Working Women

A Mentoring Moment

Being nominated for recognition as a “mentor-protégé” award is a humbling honor for certain. And while this is truly exciting, I would say the experience to again “pay it forward” is more meaningful and certainly more of an honor. Mentorship and coaching is a responsibility I take very seriously. 

Mentoring, guiding, and coaching support have been a part of my leadership philosophy of “paying it forward” for the past 15 years of my career. The beauty lies in the effort and commitment of the mentee/protégé. My partnership with my mentee through WICT this year has been one of the most memorable relationships I have had the privilege of being a part of in many years. There were two key tenets I have taken away from this partnership. First – the skill of active listening for understanding and clarity is something I have had to and will continue to practice. It is so important in a mentoring relationship to listen, assess, process, and remove judgement. As a mentor, it is critical to provide the opportunity for the protégé to share their experience from their vantage point and to not jump in and immediately provide direction. The art of asking open ended probing questions affords the protégé the opportunity to gain their own clarity. That being said, the protégé needs to “do the work” and this is the second and most important (and most rewarding) take away from this partnership. My mentee was an eager learner and open to feedback and suggestion. During our relationship thus far, she has done ALL of the HARD WORK! She is a model protégé and I will be utilizing my experience with her to share with others I mentor who aren’t investing in the hard work it takes to learn, evolve, change, and grow. We tackled some very difficult and some very sensitive topics. She was able to take some strategies that she was comfortable with and try them for success. The beauty of our partnership was that it covered a wide spectrum of topics – career growth, networking, handling difficult situations, and developing leadership communication tenets.

I am so proud of her and quite honestly she had all of the elements inside of her! What I enjoyed and appreciated was her eagerness to learn and her willingness to challenge herself. She simply needed an aligned partner to guide, coach, and support her. Again she did all of the tough work. A lesson for us all!

Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Leadership, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part V

Vacation time is an important employee benefit – it is critical for people to have time away from work to relax and disconnect from the pressures of the job. You won’t earn a promotion or get an achievement award for working on your vacation. If you manage people, just imagine the pressure you put on them if you are working most of the time while you are on vacation – you are setting/modeling the expectation whether you realize it or not. Rest, relaxation, and recovery of your resources are important to ensure you are bringing your best to your job. So take that vacation – delegate accordingly, let go, and relax……you have earned the right!

If you manage people, be the person who “walks the talk.If you encourage your team to disconnect on vacation or days off, do the same yourself. As my colleague did so well, if you are leaving work to be at an event that is important to youvolunteering, a child’s event, taking a parent to the doctor, whatever it is, say it – out loud. It gives others “permission” to do the same and know that an integrated life takes commitment and practice.

Take small steps in your commitment to create an integrated life and build on them over time. Be an example to others around you. Being always on/always connected in a global economy means that you become the gatekeeper for your life because the intricacies of this global work world will not allow for “operating rules”.

Make it work for you to ensure you are your best integrated self – your best professional and personal YOU!

Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part III

With no clear cut rules” in place on how to operate in a work life integration model – we need to create our own models. Models that serve us well – let’s consider starting with some simple things. 

Have you ever observed the moms of little ones at the playground? Looking down and tied to their smartphone? Missing the precious moments of fun at the playground. Now I am not saying it is easy but perhaps 5 minutes of smartphone and 30 minutes of fun. The children will grow and be out of the playground stage before you know it – be present for every minute.

Putting that smart phone with company email away at the dinner table and never bringing it into the bedroom. 

Taking that call from your child’s school or your partner during the day – that 10 minute break goes a long way! 

Taking time to be at an event (volunteerism; your child’s activity; a doctor appointment or getting your hair done) and NOT be frantically tied to your work email for that hour. 

Be there – be present in whatever activity you have committed to. And perhaps commit 30 minutes or an hour to your work email to make up for it later and be fully committed at that time.

Challenges, Empowering Women, Family, Leadership, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part II

Consider the “good old days” when a person could come home from work and unplug! We are all plugged in all the time – so it is all business, all day, every day! Work doesn’t stop when we are sleeping, on vacation, or out of the office. Life happens during the day – a teacher calls about a child, an elderly parent calls to connect during the day, lawyers, doctors, and dentists connect with us during our workday. So the solution becomes integrating our personal and professional lives together as they are not two separate and distinct worlds anymore. Can we do this without feeling guilty, without sacrificing our personal life or our career? It is in our hands (each of us individually and as leaders) to model strategies for an integrated life. 

A colleague of mine (a 40something man in a leadership role) would leave wherever he was every Wednesday at 4pm to take his young daughter to ballet class. At monthly leadership meetings that would end at 5:30, he would be certain to be on the early part of the agenda and get up at 4 to leave the meeting. What I loved about this was that he would proudly and confidently announce it was Wednesday and his daughter had ballet. A father of four children, this was one way he modeled the practice of managing an integrated life. 

Until large corporations can make significant headway toward a culture that emphasizes work life integration and truly embraces, models, and supports this new operating model….employees will continue to struggle with how to make all facets of their lives work. This “stress” contributes to employees being disengaged over time. The challenge then becomes ours as individuals to manage and control what we can in this blended world.

Empowering Women, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

Thoughts on Work Life Integration: Part I

Over the next 5 weeks I will be sharing segments of an article I wrote on work life integration. It’s a bit of a long article so felt it was appropriate to share via my blog in chunks. Hoping that you find some pearls of wisdom in the musings over the next 5 weeks.

My best, Leslie

 

Thoughts on Work Life Integration Part I:

 

Technology advances and our always “on” – always “connected” global workforce has blurred the lines between one’s professional life and personal life. Technology has provided us so many amazing advantages but it also means we are all available 24/7. Technology has changed the way we work, the way we live, and the way we get things done. Everyone – colleagues, friends, family – demands immediacy in terms of instant communication and an instant connection. Where are the boundaries? Should we even be looking for clear cut boundaries? Or do they appear in small segments on an as required basis? 

Work life balance is seemingly not even a possibility to strive for – our work life bleeds over into our personal life and our personal life requires our attention during our “workday”. Integration of work and life is an approach to consider to best care for all facets of our lives successfully – given that compartmentalizing our lives is no longer a possibility …… if it ever truly was.

When we consider an integrated life we need to reconsider these boundaries between our work lives and our personal lives. How do we manage them? How much control do we feel we have in this integrated life we live? How willing are we to take that control for ourselves?

Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Professional Success

“Success looks different for everyone.” Professional success for me is:

• Building a team – a strong connected team

• Living with kindness and transparency – being my authentic self

• Respecting the business and operating like an owner

• When someone tells me I impacted their life; their career

What does professional success look for you?

What are some words of wisdom you can provide to both women and men concerning women working in a male dominated workforce?

Challenges, Confidence, Diversity and Inclusion, Empowering Women, Leadership, Tips, Working Women

Women Having a Voice in a Male Dominated Workforce

I had the opportunity to serve on a panel last week and share my insights on Women Having a Voice in a Male Dominated Workforce. The authentic and grounded conversation…..as well as some of the questions from the audience reinforced the need to continue these conversations. Over the next few blog posts I will share some of the conversation with you in hopes that you find the conversation helpful/insightful and meaningful. Perhaps to share with others as well! The panel structure was interesting – there were three women and two men on the panel which provided some interesting and balanced perspectives.

With 20 years of leadership experience in the network and field operations industry across the country – network operations; construction; plant maintenance; dispatch and field operations – it was interesting for me to reflect on my experience as an operations leader as I prepared for the panel conversation. I have come to appreicate the unique opportunities I have had throughout my career. And I also have come to understand my responsibility to others in support of their career journey. #payitforward

The first question from the moderator was: “As a female in the cable industry, what are some challenges you were faced with throughout your career and how did you overcome some of those adversities?” Kind of awkward for the men panelists but generated a laugh. I jumped in to share my response to the question along with some potential steps the audience could apply:

The challenges and the steps to address the challenges:

Having my voice heard

o Learn to project your voice and speak with confidence

o Always sit at the table and sit strategically at the table

Being taken seriously

o Never offer to take notes

▪ Don’t allow yourself to be delegated as note taker

o Review agendas for every meeting

o Practice before presenting and ask for feedback

o Anticipate difficult questions

Being “tested” and having to always prove myself

o I never felt like there was anything I couldn’t do while I was growing up. My parents believed in us and often told us …..”You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it and work hard.

▪ No promise of being the best. No easy way to achieve your goals. Hard work. Focus. Commitment. Simple, practical advice

o Trust your instinct and understand if you are being tested

▪ Seek time with the tester – ask for coaching/feedback/support

Empowering Women, Reflection, Tips, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

#3. Create Good Habits

Creating good habits…so much easier to say than to do, but it certainly depends on one’s definition of good habits.

From last week’s blog I would share that for me a priority good habit is being kind to myself. Taking it easy and letting go of angst, anger, and drama. Balancing my time and being less focused on work outcomes and more focused on defining who I am and searching for the definition of my new future.

Eating well, exercise, reading more are all part of what I try to incorporate into each week. But I am also creating a positivity practice whereby I can see goodness, kindness, and love in the world. Starting most days with a positive intention of how my world will be and what the universe will bring forward.

Many of us start each New Year with resolutions – a strict practice of what we will do (diet, exercise, school, etc). Let’s begin the journey differently this year with a focus on good habits. Creating good habits is a journey – not an act of perfection or rigid focus. Be kind as you bring a new habit into your life – be healthy and choose wisely. Celebrate yourself and your progress…….

Remember Goal #2 – Let Kindness Rule – especially when it comes to YOU.

Challenges, Empowering Women, Leadership, Reflection, Work/Life Balance, Working Women

#2. Let Kindness Rule

Being kind is an important way of bringing meaning to our lives and the lives of others. Being kind allows us to communicate better, be more compassionate, and also be a positive force in people’s lives. Kindness has its source of truth within each of us. Some people are innately kind and yet it’s something that everyone can cultivate by choice.

How can one begin a “kindness practice”? Begin by being kind to yourself. Many people make the mistake of trying to be kind to others while at the same time not focusing on being kind to themselves. Ask yourself what you think it means to be kinder to yourself. Recognize your gifts, embrace your uniqueness, and shine the light of kindness on yourself.

I do participate in “random acts of kindness” but for 2018 I am working on the practice of intentional kindness. Like anything, some days are better than others. When I lose my patience in traffic (which does occur) – I try to shift my thought to what is perhaps the cause for an aggressive driver. Are they enroute to the hospital to see a loved one? Late for work and perhaps worried about an attendance issue? I shift my thinking away from myself to the other person.

Life has a way of shifting us to a place where kindness matters – an intentional practice of kindness is work (for some of us that is) and when that skill is practiced, life becomes calmer.

Let kindness rule……in a world where kindness can be fleeting…..let’s be what we seek in the world and in the workplace.