By Autumn Manning
I love working and being busy. I love waking up earlier than anyone out there, having a cup of coffee, checking and responding to emails while everyone else is snoozing away. This “hectic” quiet time for me is wonderful. It allows me to gather my thoughts, think about the day, and make sure I am ready.
During this time, usually when it is still dark outside regardless of if it is summer or winter, I take deep, deep breaths and tell myself that I WILL do a fantastic job. I WILL solve the problems that come my way today. I WILL be smarter than anyone else in the room. This sounds like some weird chant I repeat to myself, like one of those audiotapes that people play in the car prior to a big meeting. It’s nothing like that, but it is what gets me fired up and ready.
I struggle with a million demons every day about being a fantastic mom and making a profound impact on the people and the company I work with. This is nothing new as working moms forever and ever have been battling these demons, but all I know is what I personally experience, and these demons drive me and push me to succeed.
I watched a movie once with Jamie Foxx, Tom Cruise, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. It’s the one where Tom Cruise played a bad guy with shining silver hair (not so hot). Jamie was a cab driver and was taking Jada Pinkett-Smith, a very successful, high-powered attorney, to a trial. Upon asking her how she does it, how she succeeds and wins every case, she responded with something along the lines of, “I wake up every day afraid that someone will realize that I have been fooling them. That I am not the right person for the job, and I will get found out.” That line from that horrible movie summed up my outlook on why I thrive on and crave the early mornings where I feel I am getting an edge, where I feel I am starting just a little earlier than others; why I revel in the chaos of my life as a career mom.
As much as I complain, and I KNOW I COMPLAIN, I love it. Every second of the challenge. I love challenging myself to be a better mom. I love the anxiety that comes with a meeting with executives five levels above me. I love the stress of having to make it work, one way or another. Now, I know I sound like I am solving world peace over here…but for my life, this is just as meaningful and important.
Jack Welch recently spoke at a conference and said “those who take time off for family could be passed over for promotions if you’re ‘not there in the clutch’. We’d love to have more women moving up faster but they’ve got to make the tough choices and know the consequences of each one. Taking time off for family can offer a nice life but the chances of going to the top on that path are smaller. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice career.”
Wow. I am not over here thinking, “I am woman. Hear me roar!” Someone else can play that card. But seriously, Welch? Let me just say that this may have been true for you when you were in the business world, but your time may have passed. I would like to think that the business world, especially today, isn’t as black and white.
Because of perspectives such as these, I have recently launched The MACC Initiative, an organization aimed at bringing cooperation between career moms and companies. The group consists of individual members such as career moms, but will also consist of corporations and companies who know that the talent is out there, in both men and women, and to get the best out of every person, conversations, thoughts, policies and perspectives may have to shift a bit.
MACC will succeed if women and men support the group to evolve the conversation around this topic. The MACC Initiative will serve as a change-agent for companies to create the right kind of environment for everyone, which of course includes career moms. I have a feeling that with technology, business complexity, and the needs of the brightest people today, we can figure something else out besides picking one or the other.
At the end of the article, someone else said that “employers, rather than employees, need to be more flexible to accommodate an increasingly diverse workforce with varying priorities”. I don’t believe this to be the only answer. Employers AND career moms need to get creative and figure out how to make it work. I am not automatically owed flexibility because I am a mom. I will prove that I deserve it, however.
In 3 weeks I will be taking “time off for my family” once Marin arrives. I promise Jack Welch that I won’t let any promotion pass me by because I chose to take this time, and I know my company thinks a little more progressively than that as well. This means that I will be flexible during my time away, but I will take the time in some fashion.
What do you think? By the way, if you are interested in supporting The MACC Initiative, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.