“Just tell me what you want, what you really really want” …sang the Spice Girls in the 1990’s. My daughter was a toddler then and if someone had asked me what I really really wanted at that time, the answer would have revolved around how to balance the 3 C’s. Caring, cleaning and career! I was and still am ambitious and driven. However like many women, my career went into a holding zone whilst I juggled the 3 C’s for a long time. So if someone had asked me then what I wanted….and I knew what I know now…I would have asked for a wife!
Some women in my network have recently read “The Wife Drought” by Annabel Crabb. They were writing about how envious they were of the advantages that one has when one has a partner who enables ones career by doing “wifely” stuff. We say “I need a wife” as we understand the advantages and ‘potent economic empowerment’ that having a stay at home spouse entails.
The “Women in Workplace” report by Leanin.org & McKinsey was released recently. Whilst it is based on corporate American studies, the trends and troubles are the same, if not worse in Australia. The report tells us that what is “normal” is that women are failing to receive their first critical promotion, fall behind at every step and as a result, the higher you look in any company, the less women you will see. Often this is because they are juggling the 3 C’s and perceive (or are perceived) that leadership will be too demanding.
Unfortunately, “normal” in the 1990’s for my (then) toddler daughter who was dancing around to the Spice Girls, was that females did have a supporting or background role in work and life. AKA wife! What is astonishing is that some 20 years later, this is still the perception about gender and the reality for many women. The WGEA published “Womens Work, Men’s Work” with the express objective to change traditional gender assigned roles and help Australia get unstuck from its 1950’s attitudes to women and work.
Australia needs to get unstuck from its 1950’s attitudes to women and work.
When I mentor women, I often ask what do you really really want? Many can’t tell me. Not straight away anyway. I say this without judgement because when I was juggling the 3 C’s, I don’t think I would have had the foresight, courage or conviction to say “I’ll have a wife thanks” if I had been asked the same question. Having a wife would have meant being able to get on with advancing my career, increasing my economic independence and accelerating my fulfilment, enabled by someone doing all of the unpaid stuff I was doing on top of my day job! If I’d asked for what I really wanted, actually needed, made that clear to my managers, my family, my (then) husband….perhaps I would have set myself up for success a little earlier. Oh well!
What I can do though is share my experience and encourage women to lean in, be strategic and have conversations with intent. Conversations with intent are asking for what you really really want. Yes, it takes courage. It takes embracing vulnerability. It means you have to know what you really, really want.
Tara Mohr describes fear of asking for what you want as pachad in her book Playing Big. Pachad is the Hebrew bibles word for irrational disaster thinking. That thought process that the absolute worst is going to happen. Then Mohr talks about yirah. The other Hebrew word for fear, the good fear word! This is the “I will have a conversation with intent” kind of fear word. Yirah is the word for what happens when you courageously step up, lean in and ask for what you really really want.
Your manager, peer, friend or partner is not a mind reader.
Your manager, peer, friend or partner is not a mind reader. There is no one hanging around waiting to anoint you to the role, salary, life that you really want. I can guarantee you though, there are plenty of people in your life that will be overjoyed when you ask them for help, when you declare what you really want. They will want to help you get it, because you are clear, purposeful, deliberate and intent on what you want and need. You have to be strategic, lean in and declare your intentions. Ask for what you want then find the people who are going to enable that to happen.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Your journey to get what you want starts with you. So, tell me what you want, what you really really really want!