I never wanted kids. When I met Struan’s dad, he gave me an ultimatum, as he really wanted a family. Two years after meeting, and following 10 days silent meditation for 10 hours a day (I kid you not), I eventually gave in and said “Ok, let’s see what happens if I come off the pill” (still reluctant to fully commit, even then).
Six months later I was pregnant, age 37. I have no family in Australia, and I had just moved to Melbourne when I discovered I was pregnant, where I knew two people.
The pregnancy progressed well and my standard line throughout was “I’m more worried about what to do with it once it’s born, than the birth itself.”
At least, that was my line up till I did “Calm Birth” pre-natal classes at around 36 weeks pregnant and suddenly the prospect of a cosy 3-some of me, my partner and the mid-wife in the birthing suite seemed positively terrifying.
Enter Erica, stage right. Erica was an angel in disguise, aka a Doula. Essentially a birth partner, Erica provided the most invaluable emotional and physical support for me and my partner during the birth.
Having her there was not just comforting – she played a key part in me having a drug-free natural birth (I would have gone for the pain-killers at the first contraction).
Erica kept me focused, calm, and gave me the strength I needed to believe I could do it, at the time when I most believed it was impossible.
Getting To The Top
“It’s tough at the top”. “Success is lonely”. “Friends and business don’t mix”.
These are some of the phrases you will hear, and may utter, on your way up the career ladder. And you know what? Without the right support team in place, those phrases are all true. Even more importantly getting to the top without a support team in place will be darn hard.
I work with women at different stages of their career – junior women on their way up the ladder and senior women reaching for executive positions. One of my key messages to all women, regardless of the stage they’re at in their career is that you cannot do it alone, nor should you want or have to.
Last week I presented to a group of 20 female senior in-house counsel. As a career path, in-house legal faces it own challenges, one of which is gaining the recognition and support needed by the business.
I shared a model for the 4 levels of support you need to make your way to the top and build your level of influence in your organisation.
SPONSORSHIP: A sponsor is usually someone in the organisation with an active interest in your career progression. They will speak up on your behalf, help you navigate the politics and make sure the right people know who you are and why you should progress.
MENTORING: A mentor provides a voice of experience, helping you find solutions to issues that arise in your career or daily work. They may have walked the path before you, and could be inside or outside of the organisation.
COACHING: A coach helps you understand your behavior patterns, decision making strategies and helps guide you to the answers you are looking for.
ADVOCACY: An advocate is someone who respects you and promotes you, internally and/or externally.
Now you know the different types of support open to you, ask yourself 3 questions:
- Who is currently on my support team and in what capacity?
- Who else do I need on my support team?
- How am I supporting other women (and men) in my organisation?
Knowing you have support makes the rough days in your career easier to bear. We all need an ear, or a shoulder to lean on. The first step is to find the right people, and get them on your team.
PS I am currently taking on my last few personal clients for the year. If you want help with: changing or progressing your career; building your practice or business; or if you want to talk about how I can help you and your team achieve great things in 2016 click here to book a 15 minute consultation.