Blessedly Inexperienced, Critically Impaired

As many of you may know, my inspiration for articles frequently comes from observation and inadvertent eavesdropping in various venues while waiting for meetings.  (I am invariably early for meetings and appointments.)  Today is no exception.  As the bits and pieces of conversation float around the coffee shop, one comment making its way through my mental filter comes from a young woman who is possibly in her early twenty’s at the oldest.

What is the Comment?

In reality it is more statement than comment “How could a woman possibly choose to stay home or quit working?”…”How could any woman not choose a career?”

Why the shock?

Because every woman should be respected and have the right to whatever choice she makes.  Staying at home to raise children or care for family members is a choice that no woman should have denigrated another woman making.  Choosing a career and to work outside the home should also be respected.

After All these Years

I’m not of the generation of trailblazers. I may have widened a few trails and pursued a few new paths, but other women have come before me.  Other women will come after me.

Each of us as women will have opportunities to clear a path or to throw roadblocks in the paths of other women.  I wish I could say with 100% certainty that it will be clear paths that we all pass on.

Reality Matters

Leading by example, mentoring, and listening opens doors and minds for the next generation or for those who have previously had obstacles placed in front of them.  Unfortunately it isn’t enough.

Personal experience has shown that no generation will universally extend that helping hand to the next.  There will be those who have worked diligently to reach their level of success who will horde the lessons or who will fear competition or who will obstinately say, “I had to do it the hard way, why shouldn’t you?”

Furthermore, the “up and comers” have to be willing to listen and hear what is being shared.  The hand reaching back down the corporate ladder or across experiential lines needs to find a hand reaching back toward it.

Mentors, Mentors, Everywhere – A Matter of Experience

Too often our younger selves turned away mentoring opportunities that we could have received or provided.  We were concerned with our insecurities and inexperience or we were uncomfortable asking for help and insights from others.  Too often we also get caught up in wondering what, if anything, we can learn from those who are different from us.

Diversity in Mentors

Whether a person is a stay-at-home mom or 90-year-old retired executive (man), there are lessons to be learned. The more diverse our set of mentors, the broader our world view.  The broader our world view, the more opportunities and alternatives we can identify when confronted with challenges.

Stay-At-Home Mom – Executive Lessons

Have you ever dealt with a temperamental two year old?  How about five or six of them?  Every argued with a teenager and tried to teach him/her accountability and follow through?  Ever had to make sure dinner is on the table, homework is done, clothes are ready for tomorrow, there is gas in the car, everyone has their allowance, paid the bills and…

Can you see the parallels between a two year old and your boss or co-workers? How about a co-worker over whom you have no authority but from whom you need and a teenager?  Multiple roles, multiple projects, and budgets…

Look Beyond the Obvious

To quote the wife of a former co-worker of mine:  “As a kindergarten teacher, I expect to deal with immature behavior on a daily basis.  I can’t believe the same behavior goes on in the board room!”  Life lessons aren’t limited to age, gender, generation, or any of the constraints we mentally like to impose.  Life lessons occur regardless of stage of life. We just have to look for them and be willing to share.  We also have to make sure that we aren’t prejudging where we find those lessons because of prejudice toward the paths and experiences others have chosen.

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