Women’s Transitions? a process……

Celebrating Women’s Transitions!?  What are “women’s transitions” anyway?  Before getting into today’s post…please look for our RSS Feed link on our site.   I keep tweaking…all feedback is welcome!

I have to tell you a story before getting underway — it guides how I approach today’s challenge.  It starts with  a guy, whose name I’ll change to Stewart.  Stewart is an executive at Iron Mountain, an S&P 500 corporation.   For the past four years I had the great pleasure of serving as Iron Mountain’s head of Human Resources and Administration.  Stewart was a super, über “corporate guy.”   I was usually entertained by his calculated moves.  He was a corporate chess player “extraordinaire” –   Ever met anyone like this?

Anyway Stewart got me one day.  I didn’t even see it coming.  He agreed with me in a private very-critical “pre-meeting” on a topic.  Then he set me up in front of the CEO in a more public meeting by changing his position 180 degrees.  I should have seen it coming — I was just too exhausted to see it that day.

In spite of this craziness Stewart used a positioning on occasion which I thought was masterful.  It went simply…”let’s start with where we agree.”

So, on transitions, let’s start with where we agree:

From my humble perspective, a transition that incorporates a “working-self” covers a broad territory of change which can be triggered by a spectrum of events or circumstances.   Here is my initial bucket list:

Bucket #1: “dis-engaging from” or “re-engaging with” the workforce due to personal decisions such as care of children or family members, or personal illness;

Bucket #2: embarking on a journey to pursue a “dream” that requires a different path than your prior endeavors – such as starting a business;

Bucket #3: “change of game” due to decisions within our control e.g. a geographic move to support a spouse’s or partner’s job;

Bucket #4: “change of game” due to events out of our control like the loss of a job;

Bucket #5:  a change of approach due to a desire to integrate more fully the needs of family or other objective. This may lead to part-time work after previously working full-time.

Two quick observations.  Regardless of the circumstances — my hypothesis is that transitions that include our working-self are more alike than dissimilar.    “Let’s start with where we agree”…..

Second, my sense is that transition is not a point in time — or a period of months or years.  I believe this event-driven concept to be false.  It seems to me that transition requires a broad commitment that has downstream implications.  You remember Robert Frosts’ famous lines “two roads diverged from a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler”…

Reactions?  Am I thinking about the buckets correctly?  Have I captured yours?

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4 responses to “Women’s Transitions? a process……

  1. Lucy Mancini Newell

    Would there also be another broader bucket that for now might be, for lack of a better phrase, “Miscellaneous”? What do I mean by this? There has been a significant shift in the workplace culture and ethos as compared to how we were raised by our families and communities. If one worked diligently and was productive, the story said we would find progress or be placed on the path of progress. Instead, we often see others, who so not follow the generational golden rule, stride past us. Suddenly, we are in transition. In some ways, this defies logic but there are many examples of this situation contributing to both a “change of game” and a change of “dream”.

  2. Pingback: Isolation? | NovoFemina

  3. Sigh. You have not captured my “transition.” The word “transition” means the act of moving from one state or condition to another. Yet your buckets are all about moving out of workplace into other. I did that 15 years ago. My transition now is from the state of stay at home mom into the paid economy. I am delighted that your very academic and deeply thoughtful site exists now; such was not available to me when I made the kind of transition you are talking about. I guess I’m still on the front line; I’ll have to do this transition on my own as well. Thank you, though, for the reminder that the questions I asked way back when were and are still valid ones; the answers were hard then and, apparently, they still are. I’ve learned much, have much to share. Have much still to learn and more to do. I’ll stay tuned in and you do the same. Someday, you too will be in this “transition.”

  4. Cheryl, Thanks for your perspective! I keep trying to arrive at a definition for transition that covers it all….I guess I have a ways to go. Care to share your thoughts more? I’d love to talk to you about our Voices of Transition column. Let me know if you’d be game. Again, thanks for taking the time….Linda (larcape2000@gmail.com)

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