- Posted March 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Work and family: Making it work
Choose your Regrets
I’m Debora McLaughlin; I was raised in a working family where my mother cleaned houses for a living and my father worked in HVAC for a large corporation. My mother always told me to make sure I could take care of myself, both financially and personally. It was the best advice I ever received.
I pursed an education, gaining two masters degrees; I rode the high tech wave in NYC and Boston before moving into my own career. I learned to have a voice in male dominated industry because that was the only way I was going to survive in sales. This launched a successful career, showing up as myself instead of trying to be someone else. I blended having a family into the picture and made the choices I needed to from there. This meant traveling after having an infant, packing an iced container to hold his next meal while I was gone. That choice and discomfort landed an 8 million dollar contract for my company and the commission for our dream home to house our growing family. Yes I missed my son and his young brother, yes I was frowned up by my mother in law but yes I made my choice.
Now happily married 28 years I am the mother of two young men in their twenties, at the same time while my husband ends his day at a normal hour, my executive coaching and Leadership Development Company keeps me working long after leaving my office into the study at night. My clients are worldwide so that alone extends the hours, client use text and email all hours of the day. I stand shoulder to should with CEO’s and other leaders to help them to be successful. In truth my work is my passion and I could do it 24/7, I have no regrets of giving up TV shows to be writing in the evening. I do have to make sure I have an awareness of time for me, time for family, time for relationships and spirituality. For those who claim they don’t have the time I say “did Mother Theresa have more hours than you?” What bothers me the most is that others worry that I am overworked, that the worse boss I ever worked for is me. Instead I have that driven entrepreneur spirit and giggle through every moment of my day. Balance is not there but I don’t experience stress about it because I make my choices.
I write with urgency this year to help women to understand all that they have is choices. Work life balance does not exist. Every choice comes with a hint of regret, choose your regrets.
For my new book I’ve been interviewing women CEO’s and women leaders. Lisa, a CFO, each decision is a work/life balance decision. Do I stay at work and leave my son to be the last to be picked up after school? Do I complete the project and miss his game? Am I willing to risk being less than competent if I say I have to leave? Contrast that with the male manager who told me he has to leave his shift at 4:00 to pick up his kids, asking “how I tell the guy coming in he has to talk me by 3:30 if he wants any information about the day shift?” See the difference, no guilt there, just dedication to himself and his children and finding a way to make it work.
I do agree with Sheryl Sandberg and others that there is a generational gap in how women ask for help versus men. Women ask for permission, men ask for what they need when they need it and expect it to happen. Women claim the team was successful, men say they were successful. I pondered this difference and how I could help.
Author of The Renegade Leader, 9 Success Strategies Driven Leaders Use to Ignite People, Performance and Profits I realize that most of my case studies from my decades of experience were from men who found it natural to be seen, heard and to command attention. Women can’t change without society seeing women differently. My writing was prompted by seeing this women’s interest section.
Why would a major book store believe that women’s interests are only fashion, interior design and the playgirl in the back? I put the Harvard business Review in the middle, posted this on my Facebook page and instantly got 3500 viewers. Women want to be seen in the workforce, to be heard and recognized no matter what level they aspire to, we do have career interests. I find few women passionate about doing the laundry.
So what will help women with achieving some sort of balance? I don’t believe that they need executive presence school, image consultants or to be anyone but who they are. I do believe they will achieve greater work life balance if they ask for what they need when they need it and take credit for what they do. In my soon to be published article for Leadership Excellence, Running in High Heels, How to get to the Top without Falling Down I propose that women stand tall and begin by seeing the potential in themselves, like my mother did in me, even if no one else is seeing it. From this self guidance you will find the confidence you need to take a stand. If you have to stand for something, stand for the choices you make, and simply choose your regrets. .