Friday, September 30, 2011

What my Rock Star friends taught me

A little while ago, while I was ruminating on the demands of family & career, my husband sent me this blog post on 10 things happy people do differently.

It's a great little list and I was happy to see that I am doing a lot of it - but #3 -comparing yourself to others- that is my poison. I was reminded of this today when I finally got to connect with a fabulous friend on the phone and it came up again. We laughed that just when you decide to streamline your life and smell the roses a little more, you see someone you know being profiled in major media and you want to gag on your fresh, homemade banana bread, which suddenly doesn't taste as great anymore. We have complex feelings about our peers, colleagues, friends, who are rocking the world with their accomplishments when they also happen to be moms like us.

The key is not to compare, because of course you never really can. But an even better bet is to be inspired. I have a lot of successful friends and I'm really proud of each of them. I also learn from them - and through their example, and my own experience, these are the golden rules of holding down a Big Job as a parent. And you can't start the list without recognizing that if you've got even part of this list down, you are lucky indeed.

1. Love what you do - or at least like it A LOT. As one of my leaders once said to me (herself a working mom) - "if you don't love what you do you can't do it - the trade off is too great."

2. You need the A Team at home. This a Sheryl Sandberg point, to make sure your partner is a partner. So true - but beyond the spouse, there is a whole team of grandparents, babysitters, daycare providers, neighbors who help you. You will only ever be as good as this team. Parents committed to their careers put a ton of time, money and effort into getting this right.

3. You need the A Team at work. This means a boss that gets it, and a team you can count on.

4. Time and Money. These may seem like aggravating factors but I think they are actually core to success. In a highly informal survey of my rock star friends I found that the length of their commute and the size of their salary had a direct correlation to their commitment to the job.

5. Company culture - swimming against a company culture that doesn't really walk the walk when it comes to working parents can be a real drain. I've been lucky to have had flexible work options, but so many of my friends haven't. Working Mother has a great list of companies that get it, right here.

6. A working mom mentor or support group. I could not have survived hiring our first nanny, pumping at work, my first 4 day business trip or evaluating any number of career decisions without my ladies. And I have never hung up the phone with any of them without feeling better.

When you see a mom rocking her career, how does it make you feel? Inspired, or defeated?

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