Yes, your career journey is limitless. You just have to believe it.
Over the course of my three decades in the practice of law, with stints as outside and in-house counsel, I have been extremely fortunate to have had mentors who illuminated for me what can best be described as the “art of the possible.”
Early in my career, one such mentor, a senior executive at the media company at which I worked, saw promise in me and took me under his wing, bringing me on board to lead his most sophisticated and innovative deals. When I told him that I had been recruited for a new role at a different media company, he graciously took me to lunch and talked to me about his career trajectory and the career trajectories that were available to me. He told me “It’s important to put yourself on the map by having hits,” great advice that I have since regularly dispensed to others embarking on a new job.
But it wasn’t his new job advice that impacted me most that day; what impacted me most was that, despite my being at the beginning of my career journey, his vision for that journey was limitless, unimpeded by the fact that I was a woman in a world in which male leaders far outstripped female leaders. I knew full well that the glass ceiling for women was a reality, but his sanguine outlook empowered me to believe that I could break through it.
That this mentor believed in me and saw nothing but possibility mirrored my childhood, in which my parents likewise perceived no obstacles to the opportunities for my success. My father spoke of the limitless possibilities that I could achieve; it never seemed to dawn on him that being a woman could potentially hold me back. Blind optimism? Perhaps. But, as a result, I internalized the belief that the world was my oyster.
I recognize that the glass ceiling continues to this day, albeit to a lesser degree than when I was launching my career. But I believe that by helping our young women to visualize the possibilities, even at the risk of being blindly optimistic, we can help them to manifest these possibilities in their career pursuits.