Tag Archives: career transition

Remarkable Choices

Tears come easily today. I wonder about them. I am sitting in San Francisco thanks to a long-awaited three-week writing vacation. I am house sitting while a friend and her husband travel. I am writing my second book, a non-gendered view of transition. My teenage daughter helped me create a calendar with daily writing goals. My son promised to FaceTime daily with a few good jokes. I hope to make real progress. But the tears?  Where are they coming from? Have you ever had a day when emotions reigned unchecked?

Fog Engulfs The Golden Gate Bridge

I have two theories about the tears.

The first is all about fear. Am I afraid of the work or of not being able to make progress? Possibly.

By being here I’ve removed nearly every barrier that I believe gets in the way of my writing.  Here there are no meals to prepare; no scraped knees to comfort; no laundry; no conference calls; no carpool coordination; no driving a child here or picking another one up there; and no elder care responsibilities. There is a market on the corner and a breakfast joint a block away. I’ve made a note to ask tomorrow if they deliver.

In spite of barrier-less living, fear is very real. Am I afraid of what I can do? Or afraid of what I cannot do?

My performance fear may stem from the fact that it takes me a long time to write. For years I was told that I was a lousy writer. This messaging happened repeatedly from high school through college and into my early working life.  It seems to me that this characterization had more to do with the topics I was asked to write about – like the gross margin performance of a business – than my desire to write. Whatever the reason, the negativity of this descriptor has had a lasting impact.

That said, I do not think that I can credit fear for my tears. My second ‘tear’ theory is related to my transition’s current state.

Let me catch you up on what has been happening. I’ve experienced what I can only describe as an awakening in what may be my 2nd or 3rd full cycle of transitioning since I started this blog. All of a sudden I have a heightened awareness. I feel as if I am breathing from every pore in my body.  The words of His Holiness the Dali Lama all of a sudden make sense to me:

  • “When, at some point in our lives, we meet a real tragedy,” he said, “which can happen to any one of us, we can react in two ways. Obviously, we can lose hope, let ourselves slip into discouragement, into alcohol, drugs, unending sadness. Or else we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that has hidden there, and act with more clarity, more force.” (Escape from the Land of Snows,   Stephen Talty, pg 245)

My new status has brought with it peace but it has also hit some very emotional chords.

When my trigger first occurred, I had no vocabulary or understanding of transition. I recognized that there was a mismatch between what occurred – a childcare snafu while on a business trip to London – and how I felt. I felt as if the ground fell out from underneath me. I tried to hit the re-set button which would allow me to just keep going. It did not work. Nothing did. I felt ashamed because I didn’t know what was going on; I was engulfed in self-doubt thanks to the enormity of what I was feeling; and I felt alone. Very very alone.

It would take hundreds of hours of conversations with others who were going through significant changes for me to realize that I was transitioning, a normal process of growth and development that is available to all. Here is the kicker. We grossly misunderstand transition in our society. Transitions occur when there is a shift in what holds value or meaning to us. It can happen at 22 years of age or 72 years of age. Or never. In fact, the great majority of adults look to distractions to keep themselves away from this very real opportunity for extraordinary growth.

At its core, transition is about choice. Choosing to grow. What will we do when faced with the need to change? Some cling to the status quo, some retreat to an earlier more comfortable state, others pursue all manner of changes. Still others decouple from all or part of their known identity and walk forward into uncertainty. These hearty transitioners make the choice to explore more of who they are. It is an act of courage that offers an ever-expanding opportunity to engage who we are with the world.

Over the past six months I am all of a sudden aware of the role that emotional connections play for me. I have a deep desire to be connected to others. What if my feeling alone all those years ago had nothing to do with my trigger and more to do with the emotionally vacant environment I’d excelled in for decades? Did I mention that for nearly 25 years I thrived in a business world where I was rewarded for silencing emotions?

Back to the tears. Somewhere deep down I know that the way forward for book #2 is the tell the story of transition through my emotions. I think the tears are related to standing at a cross-roads: I can rationalize what I need to do, but I still need to re-direct the anti-emotional patterns so long-established in me. How will I dismantle the last remaining pieces of the force field I’d built over so many years?

Today, I feel as if I am making a remarkable choice. I am deciding to continue. To trust the process of transition as I re-examine my identity through emotions and my connection to those around me. I am uncertain where it will take me but I know that it will engage my voice in an entirely new way.

Wish me luck as I try to conjure that part of my spirit that wants to celebrate this unique opportunity to write. Say a little prayer that I give in to the creative process without judgement or filter.

What choices will you make today?

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Thank you for walking next to me through this process. Your presence is an incredible gift and one that I rely on more than you know.  If you have comments or ideas, please comment below or send me a note at linda@womenandtransition.com.

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Copyright © 2018 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

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Choices and Teddy Bears

The best presents do not come in boxes. My picture with Gloria Steinem is testament to this very statement. This holiday nothing in a box or with a fancy ribbon will compare to the moment captured in the photo. For nearly forty-years I have admired Steinem’s work for its ability to shape a meaningful public conversation. I even use her journey as a model for my own work.

She was more gracious than I expected. And kind. She embraced me strongly as if her own force could encourage me to continue my efforts.  It was a tremendous gift, a gift borne out of a choice I made several years ago.  With the holiday season upon us, I want to encourage us to think about our choices and the gifts we receive as a result. Continue reading

Trusting Ourselves

Have you ever found yourself at a moment when you weren’t sure about your next steps?  We all get there at some point or another. It can happen suddenly thanks to an unexpected event like the death of a loved one. It can happen in a more planful way when we decide to leave a job or when a child leaves for college.  It can happen thanks to a recognition deep down that something just isn’t right.  I’ve been fascinated by these moments for the better part of the last five years. I’m convinced that it is these moments that leave us at the doorstep of transition. What do you do when you find yourself at a moment when you’re not sure how to proceed?

 

Some respond to these moments with nothing more than a dismissive shrug. I hear this crew say, “Life. It’s just life.”

I smile politely when I meet these people. I will never convince them otherwise.

For those willing to respond to uncertainty with an open heart, I’ve learned that these moments are enormously important opportunities in our lives and in the lives of those we touch.

Why?

It is at these junctures that we have an opportunity to grow; to re-calibrate our voices; and to contribute more of our unique gifts to a world desperately in need of such contributions.

The task?

A simple one. Trust ourselves enough to bring voice to those things that hold value and meaning for us. Whatever this is or wherever it may lead.

One woman in my research told a powerful story recently that spoke to this task.

Hers started with a wrenching and destabilizing moment.

By 26, Lizbeth was immersed in an extremely competitive academic research lab.  She realized, “This is not who I want to be.”

The realization was crushing.

“Up until that time, the package was defined. The package of me that is. It was stamped and it was on the truck going to its destination. I didn’t know what to do. I was feeling very confused and very lost and alone.”

Lizbeth toyed with leaving academia but was terrified by what that world might hold for her. “I was aware that if I don’t want academia, who am I? I had always thought that my attractiveness to other people was about being smart.  If I didn’t want to offer that and be in academia anymore, then who am I? Transition was such a whopper. It wasn’t just a positional transition it was like a massive identity transition.”

Lizbeth made a decision to move away from academia. She described that decision as momentous.  She wandered a bit. She needed to excavate and exercise her voice. It was circuitous. Messy. She got a little lucky. She slowly made progress. “I think I also got to the place of accepting not knowing.” She imagined all sorts of possibilities and gave herself the permission to try.

I now think of uncertain moments as invitations. We can accept or decline them. Accepting can be downright scary.

Could acceptance be viewed as an act of courage?

We live in a time that shuns those who are in a place of ‘not knowing.’ Think about it. How often have you felt the need to communicate to others that you’re on track? Heading in the right direction? Engaged? Successful?

These social norms can also direct us to ‘go quiet’ when our paths open up to uncertainty & possibility.  The irony in all of this is that our voices falter even more if we react to uncertainty with silencing our voices.

“I am finding my voice.” Said a 51-year-old woman to me the other day. Imagine that. Her comment was unprompted. I wanted to cheer out loud.

Next time you find yourself at a moment with no clear path forward, take a minute to recognize it as an opportunity. Trust your instincts about what may be at play. See if you can’t use your voice to take one step in the direction of an imagined possibility all your own.

Is it time to turn up voice’s volume?

 

Have another minute? Read some earlier blogs about Voice:

 

Thank you for reading.  Take a moment to comment below or tell me what’s on your mind: linda@womenandtransition.com

© 2017 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Reframing Our Decisions

This morning as I was walking our dog I found a painted rock by the side of the road. It had an inscription that read, Think Outside the Box.  The unexpected treasure is a part of our town’s kindness project. Up until this chance encounter I didn’t really ‘get’ the program. Now, I have a different opinion. I smiled brightly when I found the rock. The inscription felt as if it was meant only for me. Yes, outside the box is a place I inhabit comfortably. I’ve been amazed at the goodness I’ve met there. What awaits you outside of the box? Continue reading

No Clear Path Forward

I’ve learned over the past four years that the word, ‘transition,’ is a loaded term. We use it to describe everything from the vital first efforts of a new presidential administration, a.k.a. a transition team, to the heavily scrutinized transition of celeb, actress and athlete Caitlyn Jenner.  What does transition mean for you?

Continue reading

Terrible, Awful, No Good Barriers

It has been a long time since I fought back tears to get through a day. Have you ever had one of those days? Or weeks? It seems as if I am holding on by my finger nails of late. What could possibly be going on? And more importantly, why is this happening now?

Continue reading

A Baseline and Learning

“Can you tell us why you chose this?” I asked at the end of an event I attended with my daughter. We were at a seminar for middle schoolers sponsored by the Math Department at Dartmouth College. It was fun if you like number theory and Euclidean geometry. I was hoping that my daughter would leave the event with more than a few cool math tricks. I hoped she would have some perspective on the choices made by the those who led the discussions. With this in mind, I asked the above question of a newly-minted math professor. I followed up with “What path did you take from middle school to college professor?”  His response was surprising although not unique. Continue reading

How to Move Forward

“How do I move forward?” Asked a mid-thirties woman who sat in an audience of leaders. “I don’t know what I want to do next. I know where I am now is not right.”  She had a great job, one that had instant credibility with everyone who sat in the room with her that night.  She told us that she knew she needed to explore something else. Her current role wasn’t right. But she had no answer to the question of, what’s next? That was the show stopper. She’d been facing that decision for quite a while. Stalled. Unhappy. Ready to move.  Or was she? Continue reading

Sponsoring Each Other

Have you ever sponsored anyone?  I keep bumping into this notion of sponsorship. Earlier this week, I spoke with a friend who serves in the military, in a rank that few women achieve. We were talking about why women transition out of the military. Her top reason?  Lack of sponsorship.  I know, I know. This is nothing new. We cite sponsorship, or lack thereof, for all sorts of advancement shortfalls. With so little progress, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t another way to approach this.  What if we are missing the cues for sponsorship?

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First let me level set our understanding of sponsorship.  The word is all around us.  It lives at the intersection of nearly every consumer brand and our sports-enthused society, like Gillette’s sponsorship of the home of the New England Patriot’s, Gillette Stadium.

While lovely for the Patriots, I am not interested in this type of sponsorship.

I am talking about personal sponsorship, or our willingness to advocate for another person in a setting or in a way that will be beneficial to the sponsored person.

It happens in big and small ways.

Like when my neighbor suggested that her retired mother run the Tag Sale at the annual fair.  Or when my study group mate was sponsored by a senior executive for an overseas assignment.  Or when my friend’s son, who thankfully is on the other side of a substance abuse problem, chose to sponsor another 20-something who was just starting his treatment.

When was the last time you sponsored another?

I have to come clean on this topic.  Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get my network to sponsor candidates for a Board seat.  I’ve been frustrated and dismayed by the experience.

I serve on the nominating and governance committee for the Girl Scouts in Eastern MA, a not-for-profit that serves >35,000 young girls. Since December I’ve been networking to identify potential new Board members. My net take-away after culling through layers upon layers of my contacts is simply this: people cannot be bothered to make the effort. They are too busy, too distracted, too important. Too….?

When I summon my best self, I skate away from these negative reasons and believe that we are ‘missing the cues.’   Without this rationale, I find my conclusions too unsettling.

Transition has taught me that sponsorship is a type of recognition.  It says to the recipient, ‘I believe in you,’ or ‘I believe in the value you can bring to a situation.’

Imagine how nice that message would play if you heard it on your worst day.

Anna Fels’, psychiatrist and author of, Necessary Dreams:  Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives, identified the real risks women face without recognition. “Women who are not supported by appreciative communities pay a steep price. They often fail to understand why, in the absence of such affirmation, they feel unmotivated and demoralized. They blame it on their lack of discipline or character or talent.  But if sources of recognition are unavailable or inadequate or outside of a woman’s control, the chances are dim that she will thrive in her chosen enterprise.” (Women & Transition, pg 64)

All of us can act on behalf of others, regardless of our circumstances.

If you are not sure how, here are some ideas:

  1. Take the Time to Understand:
    • Take time to understand what ‘reach’ might mean for those you plan on sponsoring.  A ‘reach’ is something that will bring energy and vitality to the person.  These ‘reach’ answers will differ…an advocacy support group for a full-time care provider; or a Town Committee role for a stay-at-home mom; or a coordinator role for the Job Seeker’s Coffee Hour for the empty-nester looking to re-enter the workforce; or a conversation with a lawyer for an aspiring recent grad who is considering law school. The specifics of what constitutes ‘reach’ don’t matter, gaining an understanding of another person’s interest does.
  2. Keep Your Eyes Wide Open:
    • Opportunities to sponsor another person come up everywhere.  Be on the lookout. You might initiate a conversation or steer a conversation in a particular direction. It can happen at the office, on the school playground, on your way into the grocery store, via email, or on the way to the airport with your work colleagues in tow.
  3. Be Ready with a Phrase:
    • Be ready to act.  I’ve found that being ready with a phrase is the simplest way to prepare.  “I wonder if….” or “I know just the person…” or “Could we consider…..”  Sponsorship begins with a positioning that you are comfortable with because you need to act 1st. Choose a phrase, be ready to use it.
  4. Practice Makes Perfect:
    • Sponsorship, like voice, improves with practice.  Start small.  Connect two people or connect someone to a group or connect a mid-level manager to a senior decision maker.  Begin.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve benefited greatly from sponsorship.  Without it, a tech entrepreneur like me would never have gotten the chance to work in the c-suite of a Fortune 500.  So too, I would not have had the opportunity to speak with countless audiences in the last year about my work in transition.

Maybe that’s why I am so beside myself that I am not able to find people willing to sponsor candidates for the Girl Scouts Board.

As you encounter the gift of a quiet moment, I hope that you think about sponsorship. I’ve come to realize that at its simplest level, sponsorship is our own voice in service of others.  Maybe its time to adjust the volume on yours….

 

 

For those willing to lend their voice my way, please send me a note if you’d like to sponsor someone for the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA Board opportunity (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)

 

Copyright © 2017 Linda Rossetti & NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Time for a change….

Has the New Year brought change for you?  Some of us plan changes like, “Get a new job.” “Retire.” “Change my attitude toward food or wellness.” “Regroup  with my siblings on decisions related to my mother’s care.”  For others, change is thrust upon us unexpectedly, like the woman who shared with me that she had a miscarriage over the holidays. This wrenching event seemed to smother her plans for change in the New Year.  Still other changes influence us collectively, like those related to our new administration.

Change felt omnipresent this January. It was everywhere I turned. Or was it?  Was it change or something more that I kept encountering?

Continue reading