An incident struck me yesterday morning. I was walking with two neighbors at the crack of dawn — as I do regularly. We were discussing an issue that hit a chord with one of my compatriots. She physically changed as the conversation ensued. Her body tensed and she began to shake ever so slightly. Needless to say she was very keyed up. She was struggling with anyone – it didn’t matter whom – who couldn’t see this topic the way she did. From my view she seemed absolutely CLOSED to anything anyone else had to say.
It was a powerful juxtaposition to my summer – a summer that opened me up to scores of new thinking about women’s transition issues. Summer book project aside yesterday’s incident caused me to wonder how many times I’ve missed the opportunity to be OPEN…
Before I go on I want to say ‘thank you.’ In May I had the idea to offer a service of sorts to Novofemina’s readers: to review books on women’s transition issues. The project would allow me to see what others had to say about the topic. In turn it would allow Novofemina’s participants a way to choose a decent beach read.
It’s been since college – ok, twenty-five years – since I dedicated myself so deeply to a single topic. What a wonderful way to expand your thinking! Who knew? Despite thirteen books and countless words on women’s transition I have no single epiphany to share but a broader perspective sprinkled with new vocabulary. Here are some I thought you might enjoy:
Transition: Starts with an ending. It can be confused with change or deferred by change. In transition, “we break our connection with the setting in which we’ve come to know ourselves.” (Transitions, pg 17) Many of us unconsciously use change to avoid transition. (Transitions, pg 129) There seems to be a real soup out there that we have to wade through. It has a mix of change and transition or their opposites – being adrift. Drifting along is too easy. (Roosevelt pg 9) We seem to muffle (the) demands (of our spirit) in distractions. (Gift pg 52)
Arc: Clinton, Beck and Morrow Lindberg use this imagery to tie the continuum of life’s choices together. Ibarra debunks the approach of searching for your one true self but rather sees a continuum unfolding as choices are made. She espouses that we should envision many possible future selves and test them to see which fits best now. Ibarra also speaks loudly about the need to “right size” our tests given the uber-demands on our time.
Ambition: (Necessary Dreams) Before this summer I didn’t really embrace the concept of ambition; composed of mastery and recognition. I found this book in a footnote of one of the earlier books. What a read! We all need recognition. I fear that many women get caught in a spiral of too little recognition leading to down-sized ambitions. I know that the recognition that I get from many of you on this blog is terrific. It energizes me. Thank you. Imagine the cumulative effects over a woman’s lifetime.
Non-linear careers models: (Off Ramps) Ah, a new vocabulary phrase for me: the white male linear career model. We live in a historically unprecedented time in that women by and large are defining non-linear career models for the 1st time. We are more credentialed than any female group in history: i.e. the number of American women who hold college degrees has tripled in the past 30 years. (Glass Ceilings, pg 175) My hypothesis is that women, new college graduates, and men over-age-50 are understanding that the linear lifetime male career model is no longer valid. We are on the front lines of defining a new paradigm. It embraces flexibility. Obama speaks on jobs tonight. I wonder if he’ll address the need for flexible work structures?
Composing: If I use my most positive view, society has given women a gift: “women, in the midst of their adult lives, are faced with continuous pressure to re-evaluate and re-shape – a process by which women create, realize, reconfigure and abandon goals. (Dreams, pg xx) Clinton throws out the negative and insufficient term “balance” and chooses “composing” as her divining rod.
Success: Not a static end point but a process of discovering more and more of your potential. (Women in Career and Life transitions, pg 92) For it is the unknown and all is disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching. (Gift, pg 119)
Two common themes were present in all 13 books. First, women, and a growing number of men, seek flexibility more than ever before in their working environment. No news here. Second, nothing can replace the importance of female networks throughout the arc of a woman’s life.
So this post marks a transition of sorts for me. I pivot away from reviewing what others have said and back to exploring my transition and a process to support it. I hope I remain OPEN to what is ahead.
If I were to wish for one thing it is the passionate sense of what can be….(pg 113 Art of Possibility)
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