Altered States….

“So this really is my problem.  I can figure out what I want to do with it.” shared a tall understated woman who had joined our Focus Group.   “It’s freeing. I feel like I can be anything I want to be.”  Everyone in the room nodded in support. “It’s also confusing.  It’s like being a teenager again. You know, when they ask you, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’  Well, who knows!”  Everyone chuckled.  She was lighthearted. And yet mildly sad by the hypocrisy of it all.  Hadn’t she dreamt of this moment for years as she supported everyone else? Now a pivot.   To what? Continue reading

V is for….

Voice.  Do you exercise yours?  On the surface it seems like a silly question.  But I’m not talking about vocal capabilities.   I’m wondering about voice as our expression of ourselves, our opinions.  Powerful.  Impactful.  Or muted.  Underutilized?  How would you characterize your voice?      Continue reading

Getting to done….

‘I’m done.’  It’s one of the most common remarks that I hear in interviewing people about their transitions.  It seems to be a psychological plateau that women reach when they cannot give any more to their current pursuit.  The scholar PhD student who realizes that academia isn’t the place of her dreams.  The woman who spent years in the home with four children.  The single woman who  gets fatigued after years supporting an all-consuming boss.  The veteran executive who is faced with the political and emotional jujitsu that accompanies most senior level roles.   Have you ever said it? I’m done?

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Permission…?

“Permission and relief,” said a Focus Group participant from the financial services industry.   I’d asked the ladies that day to characterize transition using adjectives or single word descriptors.   She’d just been laid off from a swanky well-known firm.  She was taking a moment to think about what needed to be next for her.  The prior job and the firm’s culture never really fit her.  “I left my garage in the dark and returned in the dark.”  She went on to add, “You know when you are putting kids through private college….you know you don’t give yourself permission.” Continue reading

The Flotsam….

“Have you seen it?” said a woman to the cashier at the Superette.  I was eavesdropping on the conversation.  “The flotsam?”   To that moment I’d never heard the word.   Webster’s defines it as the wreckage of a ship or cargo that gets washed up by the sea.  “Over many months,” the check-out line story went, “beachgoers” had created this awesome structure.  What transpired was elegant.  Homespun.  Substantial.  Continue reading

Bucking Recession….

Do you keep your richness hidden?  I know what you’re saying, What could she possibly mean by that?    The thought struck me the other day as I interviewed a woman for my book.    We spoke at length.  I got the public, high level view right at the outset.  Achiever.  CPA.  Job seeker.  It wasn’t until well into the conversation that I finally learned about her. Continue reading

Your path….forward

“We come back to ourselves only better,” shared an interviewee in a Voices of Transitions post from 2012.   Her name was Maria.  She described her transition as an experience that she was ‘in and out of’ over a decade.   In that timeframe she experienced both intentional and unintentional transition.  One occurred when she was pregnant and was unexpectedly limited to bedrest despite a strategic unraveling at her tech start-up employer.   Another at a time when the care needs of her daughter required a full court press. Regardless of the triggers this decade long evolution required her to step out of her comfort zone and onto a new path… Continue reading

Right of passage….

“The greatest invention there ever was,” said my neighbor.   He was referring to bubbles while watching my children screech in delight as they ran around blowing and popping and laughing.   Even this professorial neighbor who doesn’t offer much by way of conversation smiled and laughed.  What a simple gift…. Continue reading

The Progress of Silence…

“If you do that once you’ll spend the rest of your life figuring out how to make that happen every year,” said a friend.  I was explaining that I was escaping for the summer with the kids to a shack near the beach on Cape Cod.   Another woman we both knew had done something similar years before.   My friend shared that this decision had altered that woman’s course from then on.  My transition had just started.  “Let’s face it,” I reasoned out loud, “no one is looking for me for the first time in decades.”  Why not?…I said trying to convince myself. Continue reading

A different lens

For those dying to know..my son’s team lost their play-in game 3-2 in the 11th inning last weekend (Resilience, 6/14/2014).   A real nail biter.  Despite the loss the season was a great experience for him.  Positive.  Challenging.  Engaging.  In fact, I’ve been noodling what a group of nine-year olds and their undying optimism might contribute to transition.   Any guesses?

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A great attitude perhaps?  No fear of failing?  Boundless energy?  Another experience I had last week brought a different lens to it for me.

“It’s very hard to keep energy to maintain the right mindset,” shared a woman at  a luncheon I was facilitating.  She’d recently been fired from more than a decade of service in the technology industry.   The event was still raw in her mind.  She was sad.  Angry.  Exposed.

It wasn’t helping that colleagues were still calling to say, “I can’t believe you were let go….”  In a more lucid moment she offered, “I refused to play the games.  I know that’s why I lost my job.”

It wasn’t until later in the conversation that I began listening in a different way.  The conversation had turned to the challenges of securing a new job as an experienced contributor – particularly in light of the online job search process.  Each woman found herself responding to jobs that were a step back from her prior role’s scope.

Most were targeting specific companies.  Many were networking to try to get a handle on upcoming opportunities.  Most had had the experience of being ‘late’  to a job posting because it had been pre-wired for someone internally even prior to being visible to ‘outsiders.’

I offered an idea on how to network another way.  I suggested that the ladies try a thought leader approach to finding the right ‘job.’  Puzzled looks all around…

This approach requires that you initiate a conversation about something for which you are the expert.

Create a draft of a new asset- a white paper or an outline for a talk to an industry association.   Sound difficult?  It isn’t.   Think about an angle that you – and you alone – would have given your prior experience and your interests regarding where you hope to land.

What then?  Outreach to a few people and ask if they’d be willing to provide feedback or offer a fresh perspective.

Why is this important?  The evolving asset is really a showcase of the value add that you might contribute to an organization.    It will lead in unforeseen directions and value add conversations….guaranteed.

Here’s is where I started listening differently…..

“I like it.  It’s a peer conversation,” shared one woman who finally smiled. Immediately the room got lighter.    Everyone breathed.   This thought leader option seemed to offer an approach that rebalanced an uncomfortable situation for these ladies.   Finally an approach that catapulted these women over, around or through transition’s real emotions like inadequacy, shame, guilt, and fear.

A dozen players tried their hearts out last weekend.  They lost but really they won.

Imagine what might be possible should you be willing to re-balance transition’s gripping emotions.   If you’re anything like my nine year old friends you can’t help but win….

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