“Please pull out a piece of paper,” so started my facilitation of a career event sponsored by the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I asked each participant to write down what their professional aspirations were – using a 5 year time frame. We spent the next twenty minutes discussing what folks had jotted down. What happened next amazed me.
“Please pull out another piece of paper and answer this question: If you had to work for the rest of your life but couldn’t get paid, what would you do?” Silence. We then went around the room and discussed the answers to this second question. Do you know that no one had the same answer to #1 versus #2! In fact most of the #2s contained rich insight into the people who sat in the room – their genuine, honest, and exciting selves – none of which we had seen in the answer to #1. Did I mention that all attendees were women?
I had been asked this question a decade earlier by Professor James Cash, one of my professors from The Harvard Business School. Honestly I am still searching for an answer ten years later. Here is the quandary – for the decade that evolved since I first learned of this great question – I’ve achieved an enormous amount! Or have I really?
This blog is about my journey to answer THE QUESTION. It’s about the transition process, with particular emphasis on women’s professional and personal transition.
My hypothesis is that women, more than men, face transition throughout their lives. The typical roles we serve are broader and evolve more completely based on a number of factors: Are you a parent? What are the ages of your children? Are your parents still living? What are their support requirements? What type of community are you involved in? What have you chosen for your vocation? What types of requirements go along with that role? And many many more questions.
If you choose to walk with me through this transition process I’ll share with you the major & minor victories along with way and likely the wonderful energy that it produces. Maybe we’ll learn something together….
So, if you had to work for the rest of your life but couldn’t get paid, what would YOU do?
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