Finding passion in meaningful work and the resilience to get through the tough times are two things that I am strongly oriented around. For me, these traits are an essential component of leadership. Indeed, they have been absolutely critical to my own success, and this is something that I have been very aware of. So it is natural that we have placed importance on this when developing the leadership approach of our social enterprise.
I have learned from my own experience that passion and resilience are central to meaningful work and contribution, and to becoming a leader in my own way. But I was surprised and delighted to find that this has also been uncovered in research studies. This month in the Mama Leadership Book Group we are reading Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance* by Angela Duckworth. This wonderful book contains far too many powerful insights to share with you here. I could not do the book justice. But in short, it outlines the insight’s gleaned from Angela’s long research career about what it takes for an individual to succeed in their work, and especially what it takes to stick to something through the dark times and emerge out the other side. In short, grit is critical for excellence.
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If you want to succeed at something that matters to you, you need to develop your grit.
One of the most powerful lessons of Angela’s work is that success in any field is not determined by initial talent. Talent can be a factor, but anyone can become talented at something that they apply themselves to time and time again. What differentiates the stand out leaders in a field is not how talented they were at the beginning, but how willing they were to stick with a task or field of interest when things came easily AND when they were difficult.
If you a looking to craft a meaningful career on your own terms, it will not be easy. There will certainly be times when the work and the opportunities will flow, but there will be many other times when things are a struggle. When motivation eludes you. When you fear that you cannot succeed. To get through these times, you need to have a sense that you are connected with a bigger purpose. You need to know why you are doing this work, and where you are heading. You need to know the purpose that drives your passion for your work so you can remind yourself during the difficult times.
For working mamas, the world of work is often stacked against us. We are relegated to the backseat. We are no longer considered leadership potential. So we coast along but slowly feel more and more frustrated by the stagnation. A sense of growth and achievement is central to work satisfaction. But too many working mamas lose that in our jobs after we have children.
Reigniting your passion for your work will often be the difficult path. You will be looking for a job or opportunity in a world that is conditioned to believe that mothers are less competent. That we don’t look to mothers for leadership in the workplace. If you want the resilience to get through this challenge, you need to get connected to your deep values, your strengths, to the work that energises you, and to the purpose you want to contribute to.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from my own leadership journey is the importance of focusing on personal growth. In our workplaces, we are usually treated as resources to be exploited or made use of, rather than assets to cultivate and grow. When we are given opportunities for professional development, they usually focus on building technical competence, rather than personal growth. But personal growth is absolutely central to leadership. A certain degree of personal growth comes from being challenged and stretched in our role. But for too many working mamas, we lose this opportunity to grow.
If your workplace is neglecting you, then you need to take matters into your own hands. You need to invest in your own personal growth when no one else will. This is exactly what I started to do when I started my own creative side project, which later led to freelancing, and then creating Lead Mama Lead. Now, some 4 years since I started to work towards a change in my career, my focus on personal growth has become a regular habit. I see how essential it is to my career satisfaction.
Now, I love nothing more than teaching other working mamas how to do the same for themselves. In the Leadership Foundations Coaching program, I guide my clients through a 3-month process to move from career frustration to clarity that can move them towards meaningful and satisfying work.
Only you can decide what the best leadership journey for you. Only you can decide what the right work-life fit looks like to you. But as a coach, I can help you find your confidence and resilience, the clarity to guide you where you want to go, and the next steps to take to start moving towards meaningful work.
If you are stuck and frustrated in your career, I would love to hear from you. To make 2018 the year to find your passion and your resilience in your work, check out the Leadership Foundations Coaching program and get in touch
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