As a Career and Leadership Coach supporting working mothers in up-leveling leadership skills and managing career transitions, the week the Weinstein news hit was traumatic. Then the punches kept coming. Every day there were more sexual harassment, assault and rape cases revealing themselves—and the stories of cover-up infrastructure decades old were as crushing as the incidents themselves.
Like Uma Thurman, I was angry. Every day I coach incredible women.
Women who know well what it’s like to be the only woman in the room.
Women attorneys who have created new areas of the law to protect underserved communities.
Women who are self-taught technology experts.
Women who are facing bias, discrimination and worse—that flies in the face of their ambition.
Women who have all the skills, all the tools, all the expertise—but still don’t see themselves as leaders.
After weeks of moving through empathy for the victims, reflection on the more than awkward moments in my own career, holding my clients’ challenges in my heart and reading every word on the subject, one Harvard Business Review article was tattooed on my brain—Training Programs and Reporting Systems Won’t End Sexual Harassment. Promoting More Women Will. The article revealed that while training programs and reporting systems are band aid measures, the research does not support their success in solving the problem.
The only proven approach is in promoting women into the senior ranks. "Male-dominated management teams have been found to tolerate, sanction, or even expect sexualized treatment of workers, which can lead to a culture of complicity…Harassment flourishes in organizations where few women hold the "core" jobs. Fixing this is about finding power in numbers, not just in authority and hierarchy."
There it was. Through tears, I saw my imminent pivot before me. There was only one path forward. One mission. One 2018 Why.
GET MORE WOMEN INTO POSITIONS OF POWER.
As I move into 2018 business planning and goal setting, all priority projects will fall under this umbrella.
I will begin to phase out programs and projects that no longer speak to this mission, this Why. My focus will be coaching and online programs that ignite women’s leadership skills, strengthening their belief that it IS possible for them to lead and have family lives they love—while drop kicking the idea or myth that women can’t and won’t help women.
Helping other women will be part of my mission and all of my programs.
The ONLY way we’re going to make this happen is by helping each other.
So, in the spirit of helping each other—let’s get to work helping you Create Your 2018 Why.
First off, what is it?
Often called a "Why Statement" and popularized by Simon Sinek’s must-read bestseller, It Starts With Why. As Simon so eloquently puts it, "It is one of life’s greatest joys to wake up in the morning…every morning, with a clear sense of why that day matters, why every day matters. This is what it means to find your WHY."
Your Why should bring you to tears. Now, I’m not saying I want you crying the whole damn day, but—I do want you to be moved by what you’re doing and your reasons for doing it. This emotion will propel you forward, keep you motivated and fill you with pride and gratitude for your contribution to the world.
Why is it important?
Your Why drives your hunger to succeed and accomplish your goals. It also gets you through the tough parts of the work! When I’m dealing with technology issues or scheduling snafu’s with clients, I think, "Get more women into positions of power." And I redouble my efforts to work through it.
It also lets people know how to help and partner with you! When you tell people your Why as part of your elevator pitch or simply standing in line at Starbucks (ok, maybe that’s just me!) people will be attracted to the emotion behind your Why and think about ways to be a part of your mission.
How do I create it?
This will take some ever-illusive quiet time. Yes, it is possible to find this time and you must. I already feel the pressure you’re putting on yourself to find the answers in one sitting, you efficient type-A’s. Let me set expectations by saying, this could take awhile and that’s okay. The reflection is worth your time, no matter what you uncover.
Ask yourself, the following questions:
- What do I want?
- What do I want for the people I love?
- What do I want for the world?
- Why do I want these things?
- What is most important to me?
- What do I believe with all that I am?
Read through what you have and let it percolate. Now, actively walk through your life with an openness, looking for clues to finding more of these answers. Talk about your evolving answers with people you trust and people who will be open to exploring what this means for you.
When you come up with it—and it brings you to tears, let your Why be your mantra and experiment with it being your life’s organizing principle. The first year of my business, my Why was simply one word—growth. I had spent 16 years in one career and I felt like I was standing still for a long time. The idea of both personal and business growth lit me up. It helped me figure out what projects to say no to and how I wanted to organize my life. Whatever you come up with, let it be something that draws you to it, something that fires you up. Because you’re here to make shit happen, so let’s do this thing, 2018.