Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail

In the Midst of the Fray

When you are in the midst of the fray, it’s hard to simply wipe your hands and be free of it. It’s much easier for men who grew up with the rules of friendly—and unfriendly—engagement as they competed in sports. When the game was over, so was the battle. Most women didn’t have that, so we know the aloneness that comes with being “out there.” That’s why it is so important to bolster yourself with support networks inside your office, inside your profession at large, and outside the office.

When you need support, ask for it. When you are in the discomfort zone, say so. Commiserate. You can’t protect yourself from everything and everyone, but you can insulate yourself from some of the fear and uncertainty by putting good, reliable people around you. And, always be mindful of your role in helping others when they are in their discomfort zones.

I will make one point again and again, and that is this: Give support so you’ll get support. You don’t deserve to get any more than you are willing to give. So, when you see someone else struggling, go help! It may be as simple as saying, “How are you getting along?” Or as difficult as listening to someone venting frustrations for several hours.

If you want people to listen to you, then you have to listen to them. If you want people to care about you, you have to care about them. Do it actively, not because you will get something out of it, but because we all will. Find ways to remind yourself to be a good friend and mentor for people when their problems aren’t on your radar screen. Train yourself.

One of my mentors, Stephanie Allen, jokes that the word “bitch” really means, “Boys, I’m taking charge here.” Maybe we shouldn’t take it so personally because it really is the label of first resort by others who are intimidated by our force. Instead of getting lost in all the negativity that
can arise when that label is lobbed at us, perhaps we should remember something: hundreds of thousands of truly admirable women have also gotten that label. It’s a label. It’s not who you are. Keep raising hell.

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