Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Likeable vs. Successful

I don't know how I've been finding them recently, but there has been article after article about how professional women are dealing with a variety of different aspects. The article I read today (http://spinsucks.com/entrepreneur/likable-vs-successful-the-issue-women-leaders-face/) was thought provoking and has some serious flaws.
I agree with the first paragraph. I love men too, for a variety of different reasons of course, but for one, I relate really well to them. I do have a brother, but he's younger, so it wasn't so much that I "learned" from men, it is just that I was brought up to be more straightforward, to stick up for myself and taught how to ask for what I want. My dad always told me I could do whatever I wanted, be whomever I wanted to be. It wasn't so much learning from a man those things, it was learning from my parents, teachers, friends and colleagues those things. Some of which are definitely men, but most of which just wanted me to be confident and self-reliant as a woman.
Do women have a significant place in this world? Obviously. For a variety of different reasons, some traditional, some more contemporary. All the statistics menitoned in the article, if actually true, probably aren't true because women are acting like men, otherwise those statistics would be similar to men, right? There is something different about women. Whether it is our ability to mix the "men" characteristics with the traditional "women" characteristics, or that it is the different way companies perceive women in "power" roles, there is still something different than just women taking on the "man" roles and traits.
As for the last paragraph in the article, I just flat disagree. The tone of that paragraph makes me wonder if the author has really ever hung out with men. The absolutely audaciously broad statement that men don't care what others think is just ridiculous and completely lacks insight. Sure, is that the "traditional" position of men? Maybe. But having hung out with men and had serious, in-depth conversations about their fears, concerns and aspirations in life, there is absolutely a very real sentiment of caring. In fact, the caring sometimes inhibits commitment due to intimidation. We're all human, we all have insecurities, even if some are masked by bravado.
Furthermore, that women adjust their behavior to be likeable? Once again a severe generalization. I, for one, have never been willing to compromise my stance just to be liked. It has caused some conflict, but I'm not confrontation averse. I can handle the dislike, which really I'm not sure would be classified that way. I stand up for what I believe in. In most eyes that makes me a strong woman, not necessarily "manly".
Interestingly, as I was reading this article I was also watching the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It".  A movie about a professional woman putting her family life in jeopardy to follow her career. Of course at some point she realizes that life has to change to accommodate the needs of her family. I say "of course" not as if that is always the case, but more so that, as humans, especially women, we're pulled different directions due to the traditional roles we've historically been characterized into. All of us have to determine what aspects of our life are more important and what facets are deemed appropriate for requesting compromise and consideration. Some women may do that better than some men, but don't discount the men that are doing it as well. What it comes down to is that we (men and women) operate differently in life, especially in professional roles. We frame our careers and families in different ways and it varies from person to person, not from gender to gender. The recognition comes though in that we can't look at it as a "man" or a "woman", we look at it as each individual human. It's much harder to write about, but a more honest approach. When it comes down to it, a line from the movie, "Trying to be a man, is a waste of a woman," really should be approached as "Trying to be anyone other than who we are, is a waste of who we are."

Monday, December 10, 2012


If there is one thing that I want to be known for in my personal and professional life it is integrity. Defined as adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty, there really isn't much else that matters in any kind of relationship when it comes down to the bare bones of people interacting. 
In my personal life, I want my friends to be able to tell me what troubles they are having or share a secret without worrying about who will find out. I'm a naturally guarded person when it comes to some personal information. It is just the way I am. Sometimes I think it prevents me from really connecting with people, so I'm working on how to share some information and feelings that I have, without compromising the trust my friends have in me. 
As with any relationship, I trust the other person to be faithful, to communicate when something needs to be discussed and to treat me with the respect everyone deserves. 
In work, I do my best to exceed the expectations I believe those working with me have. I try to be transparent, even when something isn't going well. I try to promptly communicate any challenges and work hard to think processes through to ensure that it makes the most sense for the group with which I am working. I carefully balance the objectives given to me by my company with those programs or suggestions I believe most benefit the small businesses for which I work. Sometimes I don't pick the program that will make me the most money, I pick the one that will make the most sense. Sometimes I don't charge for my time that is devoted to following up time after time. Sometimes I work outside my normal hours to make sure my account is weathering a particularly difficult time. 
That's why today, when my integrity with regards to a work project was questioned I just got pissed. There really isn't any other way to describe it. I was livid. It was really best I found out right before going to lunch, so I had time to calm myself before spending more time on the account that had just questioned me. More time coddling, more time chasing and more time doing what I can to help this account make better choices when it comes to anything digital. 
This is just business, and in this day and age when no one knows who to trust or where information comes from, I'm trying to look at it from a different angle, to understand where the concern came from, to understand how I could have even put myself in a position to be questioned. I can't come up with much, but I have to step back and realize that all I can do is move forward with the same integrity as before, because giving anything less would be meeting expectations, and I always look to exceed them.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This is no secret: Change is hard. But what is possibly worse is knowing for sure that change is coming and having NO IDEA what that means.
My director at work is leaving. He announced his retirement a few weeks ago, and in the interim, the rest of us collectively have no idea what is going to happen. We don't know who our next director will be, how 2013 will begin or what lies ahead in the immediate future.
Now, let's be real. None of us ever really know what lies in the future. That takes crystal balls and tarot cards and sometimes some divine intervention, and if you've got that, you're rich and on a beach in Tahiti or something.
I'm not very good with change and I'm even worse with uncertainty. I'm a pretty steadfast planner. I like to know what is going on, to the extent that it drives some of those close to me that I ask what's for dinner sometimes before I've even eaten breakfast. I can't very well go have a plate of pasta for lunch if I'm going to have lasagna for dinner now can I?
The significant difference in what I'm having for dinner and most situations of uncertainty is that I can control what I'm having for dinner. I can't control who my boss will be in a month. After lots of stress and significant frustration over the lack of control I've reached a moment of peace. Let it go. Revel in the uncertainty. Think of it is an adventure instead of a frustration and take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Too much control makes one crazy and gives me a big head. Time to deflate a little and just accept whatever comes.