My 102-year-old-mother has been a major influence in shaping my life goals. As a widowed working mom at a time when few mothers worked outside the home, she was a secretary, accomplished seamstress, home manager, and wonderful mother. I saw her as very stylish, competent, and self sufficient, associating her accomplishments with the fact that she was a professional.
I grew up believing that education, hard work, and perseverance pay off. I still believe in “the American Dream.” Additionally, over a lifetime I have become convinced of the importance of faith to a complete life.
During my career, I was dedicated to balancing personal and professional responsibilities; however, as I look back, I am convinced that the ‘superwoman’ model doesn’t exist and never did. At any given time there are priorities and resulting sacrifices. Today, I see women and men making informed, deliberate choices about family and careers. Consequently, I believe they will experience rewarding lives with fewer regrets. As a practical matter, a short list of attractive attributes for career women might include:
- Physical fitness and a high energy level
- Ethical conduct
- Self discipline and organization
- Insatiable curiosity with an attitude of lifelong learning
- Philosophy of learning 200% more from mistakes than successes, exercising discipline of self examination, and utilizing opportunities for improvement
- Genuine regard for others, their needs and aspirations
- Ability to develop vision and inspiration with others. I heard the CEO of a major Japanese corporation describe his most important role as “the inspiration of the human heart.” I thought it one of the most profound expressions of a corporate leader I have ever heard.
Decades ago, the Civil Rights Act, Equal Pay Act, and others were the result of extraordinary efforts and necessary chapters in the progress for women. My personal encouragement to women today is to not forget “the cause” and those who forged that groundwork, but to build on it, and move on—not make it our focus. The good news is that there are very few roads not traveled today. We have earned the right and proved that our competencies provide value in all aspects of life, business, and community. Now we need to pursue our dreams as well as inspire our daughters, sons, and grandchildren.