It’s February – a time when we’re still gaining a foothold between the old and the new year. Many of us remember New Year’s resolutions that are now at the bottom of the long list of priorities. Some of us just got kids back to school. No doubt we all hope that COVID will allow us to travel at Easter, or at least go beyond our own backyards.
It is also the month that International Women’s Day goes around. As a speaker, I would normally be fully booked and plan a keynote speech to be given on stage instead of speaking to the crowds on Zoom. At this time of year, I always try to reconcile my desire for a time when we don’t need International Women’s Day with a healthy dose of commitment to make my contribution to equality for current and future generations.
What I have to say about the fabulousness of women is unlimited. Check out everything we do, day to day, credited or otherwise. Paid and unpaid. For my part, am an entrepreneur who runs a home, a global consulting firm, and a private coaching practice, along with a few other initiatives I’m building because entrepreneurs are also working on something new.
Bend over … and hug the imperfect
As a single mom of three teenagers, I mostly hope that I haven’t messed them up too much and that as adults they don’t need advice because we are as ridiculous as our lives. We’re not the Brady Bunch. We often have Milo and Toast for dinner. There are no routines. And we rarely sit at the table to do homework together.
Life in the Stephenson household reflects the chaotic relationship that exists between entrepreneurship and motherhood.
Working globally means my kids often go to bed and listen to customer calls and wake up with them. I am often away from home (when we are not in a pandemic). And I can’t remember a time when I slept eight hours in one night. But this is my life as an entrepreneur – a career choice that many women make.
In 2020, Australia ranked ninth on the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, with women accounting for more than a third of the country’s business ownership. However, we don’t talk enough about the complexity, innovation, and inspiration that comes from women who bring everything they have, regularly in male-dominated environments.
Can entrepreneurship and motherhood coexist successfully?
The conversation about entrepreneurship and motherhood is often littered with comments and thoughts from women who work part-time on their “dream” or create “sideline jobs” – terms that annoy me relentlessly.
There is no sideline. There is hard work, compromise, and regular doses of mother’s guilt. And let’s not forget the constant juggling: to get work done, keep the fridge full, have a social life, and have a house that is vaguely tidy in case someone comes by.
However, in all the chaos and guilt, there is a voice in my head telling me that I am role models for my teenagers, that we live in a world where anything is possible when you are ready to get the job done. regardless of gender. I say to my daughter: “I can go to work today”, not “I have to”.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. The adrenaline, the sleepless nights and the constant urge to create the next opportunity. It’s not about multitasking or achieving success as it should be. It’s about learning and doing what that 10 year old girl who never knew what she wanted to do would be proud of. It’s part of something bigger than either of us.
Find your people
As a coach, I work with women all over the world and in so many conversations we have realized that success is personal and does not happen by chance. I encourage all women to put their energies into the people and experiences that will grow, stretch and fuel them. Find meaning in their work. Finding self-worth beyond the narrow boxes we once – and often still – expected.
Here are some coaching tips for women in positions similar to me:
- When you get a great opportunity, take a woman with you.
- Don’t decrease women who do and say differently.
- Love your girlfriends hard and tell them the truth.
- Find someone who will hold you accountable for your own ambitions.
- Ignore anyone who tells you they are an expert.
- Honor what your future self is capable of.
- Look for and seek out people who will inspire and feed your mind and heart.
Keep in mind the next time I call adventure when you feel like you are dropping the ball on the act of juggling that is life.