Tag Archives: voice

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.

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How we engage others

“You’ll be one of the best next year,” offered my son. Unprompted.  He is eleven.  We were in the kitchen.  It was Sunday three weeks ago.  I’d just decided to not participate in a sprint triathlon, an event for which I’d been training for months.   A quirky injury sidelined me.  I was crushed.    In the grand scheme of things this was minor – hardly a blip.   If I was still pre-transition, I would have simply gone on that day and not said a word about it to anyone.  Instead, my transition inspired me to give voice to my disappointment.  I was struck by my son’s humanity and emotional intelligence.  Our typical exchanges are single words conveyed over an electronic device.   His pivot made me reflect on how much of myself I can bring to interactions with others.   It is my choice just like it was his.  I can mimic the sentiment of his single word responses or his deft comment.  How much of my voice do I choose to engage? Continue reading

Our Script

“What if I want to work at the cheese counter at Whole Foods?” asked a women of me earlier this week after a speaking engagement that I did to promote my book, Women & Transition.  She was the parent of a toddler and someone for whom Whole Foods would never have been an option prior to childbirth.   I’d describe her as a type-A achiever who was asking important questions of herself.  Did I hear frustration in her voice?  Resignation?  She seemed to be toggling back and forth between a new identity and one more firmly entrenched.  My suspicion was that the newer one had already introduced her to unfamiliar waypoints and some unusual reactions from others. Continue reading

Unchartered Territory

“I just finished your book,” shared a friend who had graciously offered to help me by reading a pre-release version of it.  “I have tears in my eyes,” she said.   “That last line in the text…perfect”    She is an incredibly intelligent financial services veteran who stays home full-time with three children.   She recently reestablished her family in our town after a major geographic move initiated by her husband’s job.    Net net she’s no stranger to transition.   What she didn’t know as I opened her email….. Continue reading

Does Transition Matter?

“What a great gift this is,” said a woman from Southern CA referring to my book.  “You have so carefully and thoughtfully given voice and structure to an issue that millions of women and some men face throughout their lives.”   I was humbled by her remarks.  We were debriefing after a seminar I hosted on women and transition.  It was the first time that I’d presented to an unfamiliar audience.   A truly unbiased test.   The generosity and kindness of her words reminded me of the most basic question I always come back to….

 

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Does transition matter?

Before I answer that question let me remind you about why I investigated it in the first place.   I found myself at forty-five not knowing the answer to some key questions for the first time in my adult life.   Questions like ‘What did I want to do?’ or more importantly, ‘What really mattered to me?’    I had a storied career up until that moment – Harvard MBA, tech start-up ceo, c-suite executive, and mom.  The latter was added right around my fortieth birthday – two children within sixteen months of each other.

As my children moved beyond baby carriers the conflicts between my various worlds took on epic proportions.  I learned to function – or so I thought – in a state of sustained exhaustion.   Thankfully within this operating fog I had an instinct, an instinct that something more was possible for me.

Have you ever felt the same?

At that moment I was racked with emotions.  I felt guilty for not working sixty hours a week like my ‘successful’ peers.  I was ashamed because I couldn’t answer the question, ‘what’s next for you, Linda?’  I was shocked by the way society wanted to instantly marginalize me.  One long time friend’s comment sticks with me.  Upon learning that I’d temporarily stepped away from my crazy c-suite existence she said, “You – of all people.”

Distance from those early days – and a fair amount of research – has led me to understand more about the transition triggered by my own unraveling.

  • Transition can occur at any age in either gender.   A person has the potential to repeatedly transition over the course of their life.
  • Even with this potential, transition is widely misunderstood in our society.  So too, the skill sets required to navigate it are underdeveloped.
  • Without awareness of transition women often interpret the early signals of transition incorrectly.  We read them as ‘failure’ instead of ‘growth.’  If left unchecked, this mismatch can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt – and all sorts of conclusions that can lead us to stall, disengage or retreat from living the lives we imagine.
  • An understanding of transition is super important for women. More than 90% of women I surveyed expected to transition again within five years.

Combining this frequency with a lack of awareness and underdeveloped skills – it is no wonder I felt that way I did.

I’ve learned that transition is a process that we choose when faced with the need to change in our lives.  Some people choose transition.  Many others do not.  For those who choose it, transition requires us to re-examine our assumptions about identity, capacity and values.

At its core transition asks us to dignify that which has value and meaning to us.  One woman whose transition was triggered by a wrenching personal tragedy summarized her transition with, “I felt as if I could breath for the first time.”

Does transition matter?

I know it does.  For me it gave me two perspectives.  First, an understanding of transition gave me critical context.  It allowed me to interpret what was going on for me.  With it I was less buffeted by the emotions.  It was a steady anchor –  this understanding.

It also gave me a roadmap – a playbook – for unchartered territory.  Even though I was walking forward into uncertainty I was less unglued about not knowing.  I could trust the process.  It offered vocabulary and context and sight lines.

I’ve come to believe that an awareness and understanding of transition is an invaluable gift of strength in an uncertain time.

Where do you stand?  Does transition matter?

Copyright © 2015 NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Invisible Standards

“We need your voice,” I said in closing a workshop with about a dozen women on a Saturday in early September.  I was making a connection between an exercise we’d done on developing our own voices and the needs of our national economy.  I view the development & expression of women’s voices as fundamental to our country’s long-term economic well-being.   For me it’s an easy and obvious linkage – although I won’t bore you with the details here.  What surprised me in that Saturday moment was the reaction I got.  The attendees were honestly touched.  My comment seemed to elevate our work.  It connected every one of us to something greater.  Our voice work was instantly relevant.  Meaningful. Continue reading

Choice or Compromise?

I’ll never forget an interview I did for my book….. One afternoon a mid-forties woman who had three sons joined me for coffee in an artsy bakery in Pasadena, CA.  She agreed to talk with me about her transition, triggered by an empty nest.  Shortly after we began we unexpectedly turned our focus to an earlier transition, her decision to leave the workforce.  She offered, “there was a lot of pressure on me to buy into the concept of being a full-time mother.” Her husband and her in-laws voiced strong opposition to her continuing to work. Financially she and her husband thought they could get by on one salary. Neither of her own parents were living.   She said of her experience, “I was the guilty party for wanting to pursue my work. It was a particularly difficult time.” Continue reading

A Simple Direction

Three of us had lunch.  We got together because one of our crew was embroiled in a complex issue at work.  We listened to facts.  We agreed.  We disagreed.  We offered opinions.  Two minutes before parting the two of us not in the spotlight that day gave quick updates.  I told the story about my editor’s pre-Holiday remark, “I am finally hearing YOUR voice.”  She said it to me after patiently reviewing draft upon draft of my book.   Out of the blue a note arrived a few days after our lunch…. Continue reading

In search of voice

Voice.  To me voice represents the means by which we communicate what we care about to others.  It might best be described as the framework we offer to others about ourselves.   While oral…it also has significant non-verbal components.  How do you think about voice? Continue reading