Let’s Embrace a Standard that Works for Us

Women have, for far too long, held themselves to an impossible standard of success—to be great professionals, great homemakers, and great mothers all at the same time. This superwoman complex dooms us all to a painful breaking point. It’s time to embrace a different standard—one that works for us.

First, work-life balance implies that we should try to divide ourselves equally between these two parts of our lives. I prefer to strive for work-life fit: that our lives and our work should fit together in a way that benefits both.

Recently, I met another very successful woman at a conference. When I shared with her a little about my life as a CEO, a single mother to three sons, a gym rat, and a poet, she was aghast. “How do you do it?” she asked. To me, that was a bit like asking how I wake up in the morning. I just do. We women have a remarkable ability to find a way. For me, finding a way has meant creating a lifestyle and a company culture that supports me, and in turn, my employees, in these critical aspects of my life:

  • Being able to include my children in my work makes me a better CEO and a better mother.
  • Being able to work out several times a week makes me a healthier and less stressed CEO and mother.
  • Being able to indulge in my creative outlets spurs my creativity as a CEO.

If these things are true for me, they are true for my employees (both male and female). I didn’t ask for permission or forgiveness. I just did it. Hosting an “all hands” with my three-year-old on my hip set the tone; the rest just evolved from there.

Second, it is time to give up the belief that we have to be as good as or better than men to get ahead. Let’s recognize that our differences from men are assets. The stereotypes of what it means to be powerful do not serve us. When I negotiate a partnership from a place of empathy, it results in a partnership that is aligned. When I nurture my team, they grow as individuals that have a bigger impact. When I show vulnerability, I get the support I need. If you look at the statistics, it is just the beginning for women in leadership. But I think our influence is palpable….