I’ve been having some great conversations with mompreneurs and work at home moms on the topic of “balance” lately, and specifically how it relates to the goal of work/life balance.
Seems like we’ve spent the last decade or so trying to achieve this balance thing, but it may be a concept whose time has past. Many think it’s unachievable, or at the very least, that it can be achieved but not sustained. Is balance what we really want? Do we want to spend equal time with work and equal time with family?
I know that certain words are “trigger words” or hot buttons for some people, but I think the idea of balance is basically a good one. I think that the more we’ve been working towards it, though, the more we are learning that there are other ways to define how we want our lives as moms and business owners to look.
When I think of words that capture how I want my life as a mom entrepreneur coach to look, these are some of the words that come to mind:
I make my work a fully-integrated part of my life. That doesn’t mean I don’t set boundaries around it, just that I include it as part of who I am and what I love to do. How much and when I work varies from time to time, based on priorities, energy levels, moods, seasons… But my commitment to my work and my family stays the same.
What about you? Is there a phrase or concept you’re striving for that is more descriptive than “work/life balance”? How do you see your roles as mom and business owner? Are they one in the same or separate somehow? Please leave a comment below.
While my business coaching is aimed at supporting mom entrepreneurs, I came across this very inspiring article in Time Magazine recently that illustrates a trend I’m happy to see in the corporate world.
Women are different than men, and it turns out we do business differently than men. Well, I’m certain that the subset of women known as mompreneurs and WAHMs (work-at-home-moms) have an even more pronounced difference in their approach to business.Â (I know, I know, you’re laughing with me right now thinking about the last time you were on a business call while hoisting a naked toddler on your hip with one arm and cleaning up the accident she had on the kitchen floor with the other…. Yep, that’s a different way of doing business, alright!)
Read the article below and enjoy. It’s always interesting to me when large companies start emulating some of the results-oriented business strategies of entrepreneurs.
Reposted article from time Time Magazine, May 2009
Work-life balance. In most corporate circles, it’s the sort of phrase that gives hard-charging managers the hives, bringing to mind yoga-infused, candlelit meditation sessions and â€” more frustratingly â€” rows of empty office cubicles.
So, what if we renamed work-life balance? Let’s call it something more masculine and appealing, something like … um … Make More Money. That might lift heads off desks. A few people might show up at a meeting to discuss that new phenomenon driving the bottom line: Women, and the way we want to work, are extremely good for business.
Let’s start with the female management style. It turns out it’s not soft; it’s lucrative. The workplace-research group Catalyst studied 353 Fortune 500 companies and found that those with the most women in senior management had a higher return on equities â€” by more than a third.
Are the women themselves making the difference? Or are these smart firms that make smart moves, like promoting women? There is growing evidence that in today’s marketplace the female management style is not only distinctly different but also essential. Studies from Cambridge University and the University of Pittsburgh suggest that women manage more cautiously than men do. They focus on the long term. Men thrive on risk, especially when surrounded by other men. Wouldn’t the economic crisis have unfolded a bit differently if Lehman Brothers had had a few more women on board?
Women are also less competitive, in a good way. They’re consensus builders, conciliators and collaborators, and they employ what is called a transformational leadership style â€” heavily engaged, motivational, extremely well suited for the emerging, less hierarchical workplace. Indeed, when the Chartered Management Institute in the U.K. looked ahead to 2018, it saw a work world that will be more fluid and more virtual, where the demand for female management skills will be stronger than ever. Women, CMI predicts, will move rapidly up the chain of command, and their emotional-intelligence skills may become ever more essential.
That trend will accelerate with the looming talent shortage. The Employment Policy Foundation estimated that within the next decade there would be a 6 million â€“ person gap between the number of college graduates and the number of college-educated workers needed to cover job growth. And who receives the majority of college and advanced degrees? Women. They also control 83% of all consumer purchases, including consumer electronics, health care and cars. Forward-looking companies understand they need women to figure out how to market to women.
All that â€” the female management style, education levels, purchasing clout â€” is already being used, by pioneering women and insightful companies, to create a female-friendly working environment, in which the focus is on results, not on time spent in the office chair. On efficiency, not schmoozing. On getting the job done, however that happens best â€” in a three-day week, at night after the kids go to bed, from Starbucks.
And here’s the real kicker. When a company gives employees freedom, it doesn’t just feel good or get shiny, happy workers â€” productivity goes up. Ask firms like Capitol One, which runs a company without walls or mandatory office time. Or Best Buy, which implemented a system called ROWE â€” results-only work environment â€” and found that productivity, in some cases, shot up 40%. Flexibility is no longer a favor to be handed out like candy at a children’s birthday party; it’s a compelling business strategy.
So we need to get rid of the nutty-crunchy moral component of the work-life balance and make a business case for it. It’s easy to do. In fact, a decade from now, companies will understand that hiring lots of women, and letting them work the way they want, will help them Make More Money.
What about you? In what ways are you doing business “differently” from the way you did it in Corporate America? Or how is your strategy getting things done in unconventional ways? What are the benefits of being a WAHM when it comes to creating success in your business? Please share your story by leaving a coment, and help inspire all of us mompreneurs who sometimes get stuck on the setbacks that juggling work and motherhood can bring.
I have had many conversations about the definition of success over the last four years since I became a life coach. At the risk of making a sexist generalization, I truly believe that women, especially moms, define success differently from men.
My definition of success completely changed once I became a mother. Prior to that, I defined success like this:
by working hard
making a lot of money
travelling constantly for business and pleasure
being able to make purchases simply because I wanted them, when I wanted them
having a nice car
owning a nice house
dating and then eventually marrying a super guy
the completion/delivery of a big project
being “needed” by my coworkers and clients
receiving rewards, promotions and acknowledgement from my coworkers, bosses and clients that I was doing a fantastic job
Now that I’m a mom, that list looks a lot different. It took me a long time to realize that my old definition of success simply didn’t work when I applied it to my new role of mother (and later to my role as mom entrepreneur). I was frustrated, sad, angry and resentful because I no longer received constant praise and acknowledgement for “my work” (mothering my three children). My Mondays looked just like my Sundays, and there wasn’t any way for me to judge my “progress” as a mother, other than how far I’d managed to get through the mountain of dirty laundry. And I certainly didn’t make any money at this new “job” as a mom–in fact, I felt a huge loss of power when I no longer earned an income myself, something I had done consistently since I was 12 years old.
With the help of my husband and my life coach, I learned that the definition I was using to measure my success (and to feel satisfied with the life I was creating) fit me about as well as a size five shoe (I wear a 10). I learned how to redefine success on my own terms by starting with a clear understanding of my core values and priorities.
Here’s how I now define success for myself:
I am healthy and take care of myself.
I am a mother of three well-adjusted, confident, friendly and compassionate children (well, almost–the two-year-old is working on the compassionate part when she’s not stealing her brothers’ favorite toys and beating them over the head with them).
I am a wife who is committed to her husband and a strong, satsifying marriage.
I am loved and supported by my extended family and many dear friends.
I do work that fuels my passion and totally satisfies my creativity, ambition, and natural talents.
My work makes a difference in the lives of others.
My clients inspire me.
I recognize that I have choices, and that it’s up to me to make life happen the way I want it to.
I just interviewed Nicola Ries Taggart, The Executive Moms Coach and founder of True Insights Coaching on Tuesday as part of my WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series about the need for mom entrepreneurs to redefine success for themselves. We discussed this topic in detail. You can listen to the call by clicking here.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out this list by Michael Dunlop of incomediary.com.
Women more so than men I find do not measure success by money alone but by a lot of things such as happiness, love, friendships, family and the list goes on.Â So in recognition of the great numbers of female entrepreneurs out there and in particular those who are active online I have decided not to rank the 30 women listed below by wealth alone but simplyÂ as my list of the â€œ30 Top Female Internet Entrepreneursâ€.
Gina Trapani is a technology blogger, book author, and programmer. The founding editor of Lifehacker.com, a daily weblog on software and personal productivity, Gina authored a book based on the web site which is in its second edition: Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better!
Kim Karin Polese is CEO of SpikeSource, and was one of the most prominent Silicon Valley executives during the dot-com era. In 1997, she made Time Magazineâ€™s list of â€œThe 25 Most Influential Americansâ€.
Xeni is the editor of one of the top 5 blogs in the world, Boing Boing.
So how do you define success for yourself? Have you outgrown your old definition? Did your definition change once you became a mom? If so, how? Please leave a comment below, and share this on twitter and facebook with your friends who might be trying to figure this out for themselves.