Always doing your best means that your best gets better. Not a bad result!
In my last post, I talked about the accusation of unfair judgment of women who choose to stay at home with their kids by moms who choose to stay in their careers. I talked about my position on these choices and how they should be viewed by others. You may have to refresh your memory to read on with real understanding. So, take a few minutes to do that. You will see hints there that I think there is a whole lot more going on, and that we need to look at the underlying issues before we accuse anyone of harsh judgment.
I think that many of the women who cry foul about unfair judgment about their choices to stay home with their kids over their careers may be looking for someone to blame. They may be discontent with their decisions or with what they see as missed professional opportunities, and they want to make it look like they are being unfairly treated. If this is true, it is unfortunate.
We all have to own our decisions and be willing to accept the consequences. That is why I put so much emphasis on informed decisions. If you are truly educated about the consequences of the choices that lead you in a particular direction, you should have no reason to regret or to resent. You will be content to know that you are on a well-planned path that will take you and your family where you want to go. Choices that are made in the best interests of children and families should not be regretted or resented.
And, who are these uberjudgmental people I am hearing about anyway? Are they the women in the workplace who are working around the clock between office and home, who likely have no time at all to devote to harsh judgment? Are they the women who run into the school to volunteer time in the classroom out of their own guilt and give up their lunch hours to do it? That doesn’t make much sense to me.
Most of the women in the workplace who I know would be pleased as punch to be able to spend more time with their kids and attend more school functions. They are working because, in their opinion, it is the best thing for them and their families in the long run and for the economy of the situation in the short run. Even for those who do not have ultimate career goals that they believe are in the best interests of their families, tough economic times create tough choices.
In addressing this issue, let’s not mix up unfair judgmental behavior with regret and resentment. Let’s just be sure what it is we are talking about before we fall victim to the “unfair bashing the stay at home mom” line of thinking. I think this is old school. I do not think that it accurately reflects today’s young women professionals, and I think it ignores some critical underlying issues. Let’s just call it what it is.
It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.
News from the political campaign trail compels me to write about this subject. One of the candidates has opined recently that he thinks that women who choose staying home to raise children over careers are being inappropriately judged by women with professional careers. He speaks of this in terms of unfairness and lack of recognition for the value of caretaking and the role of “Mom”. I have made my position on this clear in my books, but I want to make sure you know where I stand. It is easy to accuse others of being judgmental if we do not examine the underlying issues.
If you have read my book or heard me speak, you know that I do not judge young women lawyers who decide—for good personal reasons—that they cannot continue in their careers. Yes, I regret the loss of talent in the profession, but that is a far cry from blaming these women and unfairly judging them. In fact, I emphasize the need for a personal definition of success and good choices and good career plans based on unique personal circumstances. I also discuss alternatives to full-time careers and give strong examples as role models for my readers. I clearly state that there are no good plans or bad plans, but choices and plans need to be informed and developed in recognition of individual needs and ultimate career satisfaction.
As my book makes clear, the only bad choice is no choice, and the only bad plan is no plan. The book also makes clear that there should be no value judgments by others about these choices and plans. It is all about what works for the individual and what satisfies the goals and objectives of that person.
So, if we could, indeed, gain traction with this advice and get any harsh value judgments that may exist out of the conversation, what would the problem be? Would all women who choose staying home with kids over their careers be happy? I don’t think so.
Tune into my next post to find out why.
An almost certain road to failure is to try to please everyone. Chart your own course!
Nothing can stop the man [or woman!] with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.
Hilary Fordwich is a friend of mine, and I highlight her in my book, Best Friends at the Bar: What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law, on the subject of golf as a tool for generating business. Hilary is a 9 handicap golfer in addition to being a highly effective business development consultant. She is not to be confused with that other Hillary—the globetrotter with two LLs—but Hilary Fordwich, also, is a force to be reckoned with, and when she speaks, people listen. She is smart, savvy, and effective, and she knows how to close and bring the deal home.
As the CEO of Business Development International (BDI) a division of LSI, a global business development firm focused on helping government contractors gain and retain business, Hilary was interviewed recently by Women’s Weekly as part of the “Women on Top” series. Among other things, Ms. Forwich was asked about her advice to women (and to her daughter) on how to succeed in business. It is equally apropos to women in law.
“Here’s my advice to women: to be a professional woman, you must walk a very fine line. Right of that line or left of it, is wrong. If you’re on the right and too unapproachable or unappealing, men won’t like you and it goes back to likeability … . If you’re to the left of that line and coming-on to men, the good ones won’t want anything to do with you and the sleazy ones might, but for the wrong reasons. I believe, as a woman, that my daughter’s greatest challenge is to be appealing to men so they like, respect and trust her; yet, they are attracted to her for her intellect and content. It’s a very, very fine line – and having a sense of humor helps, too, particularly with issues and topics that make men laugh but not think you are silly.”
To read more about Hilary Fordwich in Women’s Weekly, see http://www.womensweekly-wdc.com/women-on-top/hilary-fordwich/.