The Allens Law Firm just held an amazing event - Womens@Allens for Queensland week and I thought it was worth sharing and discussing before the awesomeness faded from my memory (as things tend to do so quickly these days!). The pearls of wisdom that came out of this panel of inspiring Queensland women bear repeating.
Madonna King talked about one of her biggest successes being choosing her husband. An interesting point, but one I think that is quite pertinent - your choice of spouse and the subsequent spousal support (or lack thereof) can play a big part in your future options.
Peter Hackworth's story (second from the left) is also amazing, and she pointed out that it is a smart and lovely thing to do to always be nice, charming and smiling to everyone, regardless of how you may feel or what their standing is. A cliche you may say, but so underestimated and such wise advice! Because we're all humans at the end of the day, and life really is about those interpersonal skills. I used to think I shouldn't be 'nice' on the rigs because that's 'too feminine'... until I realised that a) there was nothing wrong with being feminine and b) there was nothing wrong with being nice! In fact, the guys usually appreciate it. Those who don't, well, you can't win 'em all!
(She also talked about the value of picking up the phone and talking to people as a pose to emailing and texting which honestly, is so true! Fastest way to get an answer usually, right?)
Chelsea de Luca also talked more broadly about taking risks (she left a stable job to start her own jewellery line) and doing things that ultimately, in the broader scope of things, make you happy - and to see happiness as the final outcome. Not every day is going to be joyful, but it's that final outcome that counts.
Some other tidbits from the night:
- Don't take things personally (something especially women do, perhaps?);
- Understand that failure and risk are part of the process;
- Hindsight is 20/20 but you are who you are today because of the tapestry of your past (life's too short to wonder about what could have been!);
- Balancing family and career is always going to be a huge juggling act...but don't be afraid to ask for help either;
- Just ask! (for that promotion, for that leave...);
- ...and if they say no, sometimes go ahead and do it anyway! (start your own business etc).
One last thing that came out of a conversation right at the end (and a previous conversation with a good friend) was about the 'should do's' and dealing with what society tells us we 'should be' doing - as a woman, as an academic, or an achiever etc.
"You should be getting a good job and climbing the ladder"
"You should be working harder than everyone else"
"You should be focusing your career"...and so on and so forth.
Sometimes though, the rules aren't the be all and end all. They are societal expectations and they are there because society likes people to conform.
They are not hard and fast rules. 'Should' is not the same as 'must'.
There are always exceptions to the rule, no?
The question is - are you brave enough to be that exception? We don't need permission from anyone - just ourselves.
At the end of the day, it is up to us to choose what we want to do. It is safer to get that legitimacy from an external source like a company position, but it is also just as viable to find it yourself, doing it your way.
It might not work, but at least you'll have tried. You will definitely come back from that experience a different person. After all, the best experience comes from the worst situations! What is the worst that can happen, really?
So stop waiting for someone to give you permission to break the rules and do what you feel like doing. Just...do it.
When have you ever felt the urge to do something different? What 'should be's have you experienced? How have you broken through...or what stopped you??