Month: March 2014

Diversity in Motivational Factors for Women

What motivates you? What makes you strive to do better?  Why are our motivational factors so different?

Psychology.About.com defines motivation as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.  Without motivation, we would not act on any of our desires, whether career oriented, family oriented or a basic human need.  There are three major components when looking at the process of motivation.

Activation involves the decision making process to initiate a behavior.  It is the first thought in the process, for example, joining a gym or attending a class.  Persistence is necessary to carry us through the process of attaining the goal.  There will be setbacks that we will encounter along the way but our drive will navigate us through these obstacles.  Intensity is the amount of effort necessary to reach our end result.  This can be different for each person depending on how easily you  journey to your goal.

When looking at what motivates us, we can categorize these factors as pull factors or push factors.  A pull factor is the internal desire to accomplish something, our need for independence and our availability of the finances to attain our goal.  Push factors are more likely external factors such as a change in marital status (death or divorce), a need to better finances and the responsibilities we have to our families.

I spoke with a few women to get their take on what motivates them.  A mother who works full-time in the office of admissions and records at the local university is motivated by the accomplishments of others.  She guides students through their courses as they work towards their degree aspirations.  As she posts the degrees at the end of each term, she reflects on the efforts and hardships they may have suffered along the way to attain this goal.

A retired high school english teacher and mother enjoyed making an impression on young students and then seeing their successes in the community for years to come.  The interaction with other colleagues met her need for creative and intellectual stimulation,  which reflected on her students.

A child development professor found that an experience of confusion and eventual understanding of a child’s unusual behavior is what motivated her to focus on understanding a child’s early years.  The relationship between childhood experiences and a future of health and wellness is the first step in addressing behavioral issues. She found that by conducting research and working to educate parents and caregivers, her relationship with children has always been nurturing and positive.

Family is the main motivating factor for another women.  She was lucky enough to stay home when the children were small but as they grew and her husband’s career moved them all over the country, she found jobs that would accommodate her desire to be there for her family. Her education in journalism and public relations gave her the opportunity to experience multiple fields throughout her career.

Einstein

Each of these women are motivated by different factors.   Each had to make the decision that was right for her and her family.  Motivational factors may change over time but it’s important to enjoy each day and feel a sense of accomplishment.

What motivates you?  Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

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Say What You Mean

Sometimes we just need a little push to say exactly what we mean. The results can surprise us.

Twelve years ago, I was working in retail management at a little shop in the mall with a great group of women. My husband and I had just had our second child and were just getting settled in our new town. Both he and I were working crazy hours and our schedules conflicted more than once.

JB Girls2As our girls got closer to school age, I knew I needed to find a job with normal hours. I wanted to be available on the weekends and in the evenings. I quietly began searching for a new job. I printed countless resumes and filled out numerous applications. I was excited and motivated to start this new chapter in my life.

As the search stretched from days to weeks and weeks to month, I questioned myself at great lengths. What am I doing wrong? Am I making a good impression? Am I interviewing well? Why didn’t I get a call back? I was really getting frustration with the job search and decided to take a chance on a job that may have been out of my reach. The ad was for a Human Resource Manager/Controller at a medical facility. At the time, I had some experience in both areas but I would not say that I was seasoned.

Amazingly, I received a call for an interview. They had hired someone for the Human Resource Manager/Controller but were looking for a Staff Accountant. Was I interested in interviewing?

I can do this

I interviewed with two women, the CEO at the time and the staff accountant. The interview went well but towards the end I felt the wind down as they implied my experience was not quite what they had hoped for. I wasn’t going to let this fall through my fingers. At the conclusion of the interview, I held my head high as I stated “I can do this. If you give me a chance, I will prove it to you.”

I feel incredibly lucky that my CEO took a chance on me that day. I did prove it to her and am glad I made the proclamation as I don’t think I would have been given the chance had I not.

In what ways has saying what you mean benefited you? Share them in the comments.

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Which is the “Right” Side of Your Brain?

Are you dominated by the left side of your brain or the right? Is one side better than the other?  How can we influence which side of the brain dominates our life?  Is this a conscious choice?

These are some of the questions I have after listening to another emotionally charged TED talk, Jill Bolte Taylor: Stroke of Insight.  Taylor is a Harvard trained and published neuroanatomist.  She studies the structure and function of the nervous system, whose purpose is to send and receive messages from the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and the spinal cord, to the rest of the body.  Basically, Taylor is a brain scientist.

What makes her talk so gripping is the story of the massive hemorrhage she suffered on the left side of her brain.  The amount of detail and clarity of her ordeal, over a four hour period, is amazing.  She was able to distinguish the right brain thoughts versus the left brain thoughts.

Research shows that the right hemisphere of the brain controls creative and expressive tasks.  This lets us express emotions, recognize faces, express creativity and enjoy music.  It uses our sensory organs to read our situations.  The left hemisphere handles logical tasks, analytical thinking and  language.  It picks details from our past and organizes them for future reference.

During her stroke, Taylor can sense when she is driven by her right hemisphere.  This dreamy feeling makes her feel free and light with no cares in the world.  She feels outside of her body, as a spiritual observer.  For short intermittent moments, her left hemisphere takes over to speak the voice of reason.  This is what pushes her to think logically about her current situation, the implications her hemorrhage will have on her future and how to reach out for help.  Taylor experiences a sense of euphoria that, ultimately, leads to a mental state of nirvana, where she surrenders her body to what is meant to be.    As a brain scientist, somewhere in the four hours of vacillating between left and right side thinking, Taylor finds herself thinking how “cool” it is to be able to experience this brain disorder firsthand from the inside out.

Eight years after the hemorrhage and the removal of a golf ball size blood clot, Jill Bolte Taylor is fully recovered.  She is convinced that by choosing to step to the right of our left hemisphere we can find peace.  Take a minute to listen to her emotionally charged talk and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

 

Question The Norm

“I got pretty angry at school today,” my 14 year old daughter said today.

Right out the gate, this is very out of norm.  I have two daughters – one is very out spoken and not afraid to say what’s on her mind, the other is her polar opposite.  She is the quiet one who takes everything in, mulls it over and when I detect slight irritation in her voice, I have to wrestle to get it out of her.

I was thrilled to hear her proclaim her emotions for a number of reasons.  She was letting her emotions out rather than keeping them all cooped up inside to fester into who knows what.  Equally as important, she was opening herself up to me without my prodding and pulling.

SVLA guy friend of hers was being picked on in P.E. class today.  She was so frustrated and angry at the hate that she saw, she started yelling at the boys who were bullying her friend, “What is wrong with you?!”  As she relayed the events that followed, her voice got louder and louder.   The group of boys responded to her question with more insults to both her and her friend.

My daughter and I had just had an interesting conversation over the weekend about teen suicide and bullying.  She had shared another teen’s video online showing some real life examples of bullying and the effects of this abuse.  We were both so touched by the feelings of helplessness these kids feel.  What pushes a person to inflict such pain and heartache on another human being?  How can we change this?

I have always told my kids to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.  Share your strength when someone else is lacking.  I saw qualities in her today that can guide her for many years to come – the courage to question the norm, the desire to promote positive change and the outward display of compassion.

Bullies have been around for years.  The anti-bullying campaigns in schools today do not necessarily prevent bullying.  In fact, many cases show that students at schools with anti-bullying program are more likely to be bullied.  The techniques that we have been using are not working.  The anonymity of today’s social media have given the victims of bullying an avenue to share their fears and gain strength as others identify with their plight.  How can we encourage this strength beyond the walls of the internet into their everyday lives?  How can we instill this so that it can benefit them years down the road?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please share your ideas for change.

 

A Day To Celebrate Our Achievements

Women Strike   International Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8th in numerous countries around the world.  It is a day to recognize the past efforts and achievements of women regardless of race, nationality or political affiliation.  It is also a day to look forward to the future opportunities for women and gather strength as a group.

The first National Women’s Day was observed in the United States in February of 1909.  It was prompted by the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women demanded economic and political rights.

In 1910, Clara Zetkin proposed the idea of an International Woman’s Day at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.  Her hope was to invite women every year in every country to unite in an effort to further women’s rights.

1911 marked the first International Women’s Day in four countries, where women and men rallied for a women’s right to work, vote and hold public office.  This was a pivotal point in the women’s rights initiative as the “Triangle Fire” in New York city claimed the lives of 123 working women.  This tragic event drew further attention to the poor working conditions that women had to endure.

From 1918 to 1999 International Women’s Day evolved into a global day to recognize the importance of the women’s movement.  The United Nations contributed greatly to the efforts by sponsoring annual women’s conferences for many years.  Women’s groups and governments joined forces with the United Nations to encourage participation and honor women’s advancements, their ultimate goal to ensure equality for women of the future.

Today International Women’s Day is an official holiday in over 27 countries.  By recognizing past successes and fostering strength for present efforts, we can rally support for future equality.

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Laughing in the Face of Adversity

I am truly inspired by another fabulous TED talk.

Maysoon Zayid is a writer and a comedian who, just so happens, to have cerebral palsy.  She has faced incredible hardships throughout her life but laughs in the face of adversity.   Her use of comedy opens others up to the challenges of being disabled and wanting to have her voice heard.  The cruelty that she has faced has made her a stronger person and prepared her for a journey to inspire others and provoke change.  Zayid  is incredibly entertaining and shares some wonderful stories that would inspire anyone.

It is a message we hope to pass along to our daughters, sisters, and friends.  “You can do anything, nothing is impossible.”  But how can we get this message across so that it sinks in?  Many times I feel like I have so much to tell my teenage girls that I just blurt it out rather than showing or talking about it in a way that will make an impression.  I want them to have the inspiration to dream big, laugh hard and truly love life.

Living life to its fullest is the best example we can give to our loved ones to gain the inspiration to take on the world.

Each day…

Take some time for yourself and clear the air.  Often we get so wrapped up in day to day activities, that we lose sight of our primary purpose.  By taking a short walk, meditating or listening to some relaxing music, we can center again and leave the chaos behind.

Listen to your inner self.  We often focus solely on our to do lists rather than living in the moment.  Our chores and errand will still be waiting for us tomorrow.  Live for today.

Appreciate others.  Every person has a purpose.  Embrace diversity and know that the world would be incredibly bland if we were all alike.

Focus on your passion.  Find what you love and embrace it.  Do what you can to integrate your love into your life as it will bring you peace and joy years from now.

Share joy.  Negativity is contagious but, amazingly enough, happiness is contagious as well.  You are the only one who can decide your attitude.  Don’t give others the power to bring you down.

Inspiration can come from many sources and is more easily received when our minds are willing to accept it.  Be open and willing and you will find your inspiration in remarkable ways.

What inspires you?  Leave a comment and share your inspiration.

Rejected? Take 2 Tylenol to Ease the Pain

No one likes rejection.  It’s a blow to our ego.  It chips away at our pride and self esteem.  The pain is not just mental but sometimes it seems to hurt physically as well.  Ironically, the neurological pain associated with rejection can mimic physical pain.  Scientists believe that the physical pain so closely relates to the mental pain that a pain reliever, Tylenol, for example, can actually soften the blow.

Understanding and recognizing this mental pain can help us deal with the inevitable lows naturally, without medication.  Humans are social animals, living in tribes or in social packs throughout history.  When faced with hunting for food, finding a mate and protecting ourselves from the elements, rejection could easily be a matter of life and death.  Today, pain is our body’s early warning sign to protect us from the sting of social rejection.

When faced with rejection, there are three things to remember that will help you deal with the pain.

  • Each situation is different so don’t overgeneralize by saying “everyone” or “always”.  Stay positive.
  • Try not to take the rejection personally.  It’s not your fault.
  • The rejection does not say anything about your as  a person. Don’t placed a label on yourself.

I can be very reactive.  I often get emotional and, I have to admit, I do take things personally.   I’ve found that if I let the situation lie, giving it time to settle, I don’t give myself a chance to overreact.  I can later reflect on the better course of action.

RejectionMany successful women have faced rejection and overcome…

J.K. Rowlings, best selling author of the Harry Potter series, was a single mother living on welfare when she wrote her first novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”.  She went from living on state benefits to a multi-millionaire within 5 short years.

Vera Wang competed at the 1968 U.S. Figure Skating Championships but wasn’t able to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team.  As the editor of Vogue, she was passed over for the editor-in-chief position.  Wang is now a notable wedding dress designer with an estimated worth of over $1 billion.

Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you from stepping out and trying something new.  Rejection is inevitable.  Without it, we wouldn’t grow and become stronger.

How has rejection shaped you in your life?  Are you able to use it positively rather than negatively?  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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Thank You For Seeing Me

One act of compassion can change a life – no make that three lives.

I was listening to an interesting TEDx talk: Emma Seppala’s TEDx Hayward 2013 on Social Connection, Compassion and Happiness. Seppala talks extensively about compassion and the scientific benefits of compassion. I was intrigued by a story of a student who had listened to Ms. Seppalla‘s lecture. The student knew of someone who appeared withdrawn and seemingly angry, never smiling. The student decided to simply smiled at the other person every time she saw her. Despite the lack of a return smile, she kept at it.

After about a month, the withdrawn student approached the smiling student to say “Thank you for seeing me.”  The acknowledgement that she had been receiving over the past month had made a difference.  Something as small as a smile can give recognition and show compassion. This compassion gives us such a feeling of well-being and euphoria that we must share it.  Research shows that we pass along this compassion to at least three other people.

How many times have we passed a stranger not giving them a second glance, let alone a smile? Are we less social and less compassionate in today’s society of social networking? Are we too reliant on these platforms that have replaced common courtesies once commonplace?  It amazes me that we could grow into such a singular society, not reaping the benefits of interacting with others.  It is happening, and by consciously making the decision to be social, we all benefit.

Recently, I made an attempt to positively acknowledge different people I encounter as I navigate through my day.  I didn’t expect too much response and certainly didn’t expect any change in myself.  Amazingly, I felt the positive effects of my compassion almost immediately.  I may be giving this theory too much credit but I believe this is what has prompted my attitude shift.  I have gained new friends, new information and new prospects that I wouldn’t have found if I had continued to keep to myself, just mindlessly stumbling through life as I had been doing.

I’d love to hear about an experience you had that prompted you to pass along the compassion that you felt.  Leave me a comment.

Side note: For those of you unfamiliar with TED talks, I highly recommend them. They are truly “ideas worth spreading.”

P.E.O.’s Mission to Promote Educational Opportunities for Women

It may seem like a new idea:   A group of women of diverse ages and occupations who support each other in their accomplishments, as well as seek out other women with a desire to better themselves.  A society of women such as this actually began over 140 years ago.

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P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization founded on January 21, 1869.  The seven founders were students at Iowa Wesleyan College.  These women, all teenagers, envisioned undying support for one another and a tie that would strengthen over time.

The society that was formed from this friendship has grown has grown to over 252,000 members in the United States and Canada.  Their mission is, quite simply, to promote educational opportunities for women.  The organization boasts ownership of Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri as well as five philanthropies used to carry out their mission.

P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund

P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship Fund

P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

P.E.O. Scholar Awards

P.E.O. STAR Scholarship

Each of these programs are tailored to meet the needs of a variety of women in different stages of their lives.  Cottey College has graduated over 8,600 women from over 85 countries since its first class in 1887.  The five other philanthropies have given $235 million to 90,400 recipients.

As a member of P.E.O. for over 20 years, I’m so grateful our seven founders had the ambition and determination to form such unique society.  Our mission is clear, yet our group is based on friendship. Throughout the difficult stages of my life, P.E.O. has been there to support me and see me through, stronger and more determined than before.

Identifying women in our community that can benefit from our awards is especially gratifying.   Seeing a recipient receive an award, actively pursue her goal and, ultimately,  achieve her goal is a road that is strengthened with support and friendship.  Each chapter embraces the women they sponsor for an award and celebrate together.  What a unique experience to be so openly welcomed into such a loving group of women, whether as a member or a recipient.

P.E.O. is where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.

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Are you a P.E.O.?  Do you have an experience with P.E.O.? Tell me about it by posting a comment.

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Where Are All the Women Leaders?

Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” has been on my reading list for about a year now.  With work, school and life in general, I hadn’t gotten to it.  I had read the TIME magazine article about Sheryl Sandberg titled “Don’t Hate Her Because She’s Successful“.  I was amused by Sandberg’s stories, motivated by her statistics and appreciated her belief that all women ultimately need to make their choice as to what is best for them, whether this choice includes a leadership path or not.

I took 15 minutes today to watch Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk titled “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”.   Her TED talk focuses on the lack of women today in leadership positions and what we can do to change this. Women are faced with multiple difficult life decision, many of which teeter between their professional life and their personal life.  Many choose to drop out rather than continue the momentum necessary to reach leadership positions.

If  a women decides to stay in the workforce, Sandberg has three messages:

1) Sit at the table – This is a literal statement as well as a figurative statement.  Women often discount their contributions, abilities and knowledge as well as attribute their success to others.  Conversely, men often overestimate their abilities and attribute their succeeds to themselves.

Amazingly, it has been shown that success and likability are positively correlated in men, whereas negatively correlated in women.  A women, in most cases, has have a thick skin to make it to the top as she will, most likely, not be well liked.  A woman must work really hard to ignore the ever present fear of rejection as well as the fear of failure.

2) Make your partner a real partner – In order to reach your professional goals, the home responsibilities must be split equally rather than the imbalance that has existed for years.  Research shows that in a home where both parents work, the women does twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of childcare.  This often leads to resentment and dissatisfaction in the marriage.  In homes where couples have equal earnings and equal responsibilities, the divorce rate is cut in half.

3) Don’t leave before you leave – Keep your foot on the gas pedal rather than planning for the eventual change in your life.  Don’t avoid the promotion or shy away from added responsibilities.  Stay in the game until it is time to leave the workforce.

Clearly, each women must weigh the pro and cons with in her own life when making life decisions.  The motivation and guidance offered by Sandberg reassures us that we are not only capable but highly qualified to advance to leadership positions.  We can be successful and have a satisfying, well balanced home life.  

Sheryl Sandberg has become an advocate for women.  Her non profit organization, Lean In, provides support and inspiration for women to achieve their goals.   

Take just 15 minutes out of you day to watch her talk.  Leave me a comment as to your thoughts.