I am a farm-grown Canadian girl from the prairies of Manitoba, living on the coast of South Carolina. A few years ago, I married a beautiful man I met during a retreat in Costa Rica, and became a step-mother to his three children after the death of his wife, six years ago. I also built my own business from the ground up, starting at 19 years old, never looking back.
I am a Certified Facilitator of Access Consciousness, which means I travel the world giving seminars, as well as facilitating online classes, speaking on the subject of conscious living. I have always been interested in conscious living and this career matched who I am as a person. I am 25 years old and I have a full-plate. But I love it that way!
I have built my business to gross over $300,000 per year, each year earning more than the last. I travel the world with my husband, who is in the same line of work, and we try to bring the kids along on the trips, as often as we can. Only a few short years ago I had almost no clue how I was going to create anything sustainable in this field. I have used the tools and values I have learned in Access Consciousness to strengthen myself in order to increase my business and make it a success. I believe that the stronger you are as a person, the larger your business can become, and no matter your age, it is never too late to begin the adventure of business.
1. Be Willing to Take Risks
I realized that if was going to create a profitable and fun business I was going to have to become comfortable taking huge risks, personally and financially. Over and over again. As a species, our brains are designed to protect us from risk, and keep us in mediocrity. This protects and maintains us as a species. For most of us adversity towards risk is a really difficult thing to overcome. It was almost paralyzing to me at first. But with practice, and the willingness to see that risk usually meant reward, I became more confident in my ability to make decisions.
I wouldn't have been able to survive without the constant willingness to re-invent myself and choose beyond my comfort zone. For example, I had a class in Israel and I had spent $10,000, booking plane tickets for my husband and I, booking a venue for the class, a hotel for us, when my host told me that no one was interested in coming to the class. At that moment, I realized I had to change my host, change the type of workshops I was doing, and reinvent the whole trip. We ended up going, facilitating the classes, and were surprised with the success of the last-minute changes. When you take risks, you begin to develop a trust in you that carries into all areas of life.
2. Learning How to Speak Other People's Language
In business, it is important to realize how other people function and how they preferred to be talked to. I see so many people having business conversations with people using their idea of how they, themselves would like to be spoken to. When you meet someone, you have to ask yourself this question: “What can this person receive from me, and how would they like to be spoken to?" Some people like to get right down to business, while others need small talk or compliments before they are comfortable getting started. If you pay attention and honor the other person's way of functioning, you often get farther than you can imagine, and create strong relationships.
3. Remembering to Use my Gender to my Advantage
In business, there are times where it works to be aggressive. I have built my ability to stick up for myself through some big errors. As women, we are encouraged to be aggressive to keep up with men. I am willing to do this when I know it is what will create the greatest result. But I also am willing to be myself as a woman, and to speak to the world as I see it.
We are taught that we have to be like men to work with them, and I don't see that working very well in my experience. Now, this may be a controversial way of looking at things from a feminist perspective, but I believe that women are every bit as capable as men, but also totally different. Each sex has something different at their disposal. Why should feel we have to become like the other sex when we can use the gifts of our gender, or use whatever approach works best according to the situation?
4. Ask: What will this choice create in five years?
If you turn right on your way to work, instead of turning left, it has the possibility to change your whole day. If your whole day changes, this changes your whole week. Your whole week can change your whole month, and your whole month, your whole year. Each choice we make creates an entirely different future.
So many of us make our choices automatic, or we choose only within a small window for fear of being judged, or for fear of failing. You build for the future by looking at how each choice you make today, creates an entirely different future.
Look at the future you would like to have. When making a choice, ask yourself, “If I make this choice, what will my life be like in five years?" You don't have to work out all the details, but you will know intuitively what your choice will create. If the choices you are making today match the future you would like to have, you are planting seeds for a greater future. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to prepare for the future I know is possible?" You may surprise yourself with how easy it is to shift your focus to the future, so that you are always building what you know you are capable of.
New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.
Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.
Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:
"I didn't think you'd come back."
"You must feel so guilty."
"You missed a lot while you were out."
To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.
There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.
Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.
Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.
It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.
Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship
How to be a good Momtor?
Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.
Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.
Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.
Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.