Nice Girls Don't Watch the Bachelor
Nice Girls Don't Watch the Bachelor

Episode 7 · 1 year ago

Episode 7: Defining Success on your own Terms


Defining career success is simple: what do you want, what is the price you have to pay to get it, and are you willing to pay the price? Simple, yes. Easy, nope! Just the first part, knowing what you want, can be the journey of a lifetime. In episode 7 of NGDWTB, I share stories from my life and career and what they taught me about defining success on my own terms.

Hayguys, it's Marissa or leadership,speaker and author of Leanout, the truth about women, power and theworkplace and welcomed t episode. Seven of Nice girls, don't watch the bachelorwhere we discuss all things. Women and all things work, and today we're goingto talk about defining success on your own terms, which really at its core, isthe message of leanout lean. Now, like some people believe, does not meanquiteyour job, it doesn't mean to be less ambitious. It simply means leaning outof anyone else's story for who you should be and what your career shouldlook like, and it's really being it's about being the author of your ownstory and your own life. I think that sounds like a great idea, perhaps intheory, but how does this look in practice? What does it mean? So that'swhat we're going to talk about today, I'm going to share some stories for mylife and and my career and what they taught me about success now. My first real epiphany about allof this is a story I've recounted before both in the book and on thiscodcast Somus going to quickly recap: it M. I was up for a promotion at thetime. It was a google and I was very ambivalent about it because I hadworked super hard for a long time. A great formang scores was really doingthe best that I had in my career. At the same time, however, I didn't wantto be a manager and in order to get the promotion, the Policy Ofgoogle at thetime so is. Is that in order to advance beyond the level where I was, I had tostart managing people, so I felt conflicted about the promotion andafter a lot of personal reflection, I decided to go for it anyway. 'cause. Imostly felt like that's what I should do. I thought, maybe you know it's aconfidence issue. I don't know it'w just ot like the thing I should do so Iwent for it and I began interviewing people to join my team. So whenperformance of vew time came around, I was now eligible for this commotion andY Manager, sixs mee down in the conference room, and she tried to letme down gently. She said that, for you K W political reasons that had nothingto do with me. I didn't get the promotion now. She felt terriblebecause this had been sold to me as as a done deal, and I was, of course veryshocked and angry, and she was great, she was a really supportive manager.She felt torrable and asked like what she could do to keep me happy until thenext promotion cycle, so I said ID think about it and I gid back to her-and I remember on my way home from work that day kind of mulling this all over,and I asked myself okay well what what do I want? Whatdo, I really want mustbe honest with myself about it. Well, I knew I didn't want to be amanager, and I didn't want to stay on the project that I had been on for twoyears. At that point, I loved it at first, but I was really bored anditching for something new and that's kind of what I realized that if I hadgotten the promotion, I would have had to stay on that current project for atleast two more years and I would have had to manage people. The two thingsthat I didn't want is what I would have to do. If I had gotten the promotion sonot getting, it means I could remain an individual contributor and changeprojects nd now, at the same time, I felt you know I deserved something forall of my effort, but if it wasn't that promotion then Hon, what was it when I really thought about it, and Iwas really honest with myself: There were two big, maybe three big things Iwanted from Google one was money. Two was ti time to work on this sideproject that I had started, which was this women series, like I wandered mymanager's blessing that I could spend ten percent or whatever my time duringthe week. Building it out is a passion project, and the third thing was: Iwanted. Compliments now, whenever I say this on stage, there's inevitably abunch of women like really nodding. Looking at me like, yes, like is t't sohard and the men in the audience are always when I say that staring at me,like I'm an alien with these blank stairs like what is that? Does thatmean you ant? Compliments? It means women enjoy to be recognized for theirtheir hard workand contribution, and... might say everybody wants that. Butwomen appreciate being verbalized Um and I had been watching an old Chrisrock stand up the other day and who said you know, women only want threethings: food, water and compliments or need three things. ITWAS, like you know,here's a dude who guets it so anyway. The next day I met with my manager, andI told her the truth. I wanted money time to pursue my side, project andcompleients. I probably said it more politically correct in that way, but I was kind ofnervous about being so honest with her, but she thanked me. She said it wasactually very helpful to know what I wanted. Pardon me was, like you knowwhat ' really helping for me too. She said she was all insupporting mewith the new women series and that she would look. You know themoney thing probably couldn't do anything about to promotion cycle, butyou' look into it and then she's like and by the WAG you're dressing. Yourhair is amazing today, just kidding she didn't say that so anyway, two weeks later, I'm sittingat my desk and I see an email come in from managers like boss or boss's boss,and I opened a senows just to me and in it he this is the managing director ofour team. He goes on about all the the things he knows, I'm doing tocontribute to the business and like all these details- and he also said at the end of email- thatthe managers on the team decided to pull the discretionary budget for thatquarter and give me a spot bonus. Now I mean it was a large sum of money. I wastotally not expecting it and I was flored like I had asked for what Iwanted and I got it and look. I realize stories, don'talways end so neatly in a bow like this. The point of it is, though, to get whatI wanted. I first had to know what it was might seem insane, but it took mealmost eleven years to realize I was working hard for things. I didn'tnecessarily want what I was doing: Sort of figuring outyou k w what does Merc or want and then trying to make that happen. I was justgoing along with the script of how things were supposed to happen, a D andnot thinking much about it at all. Frankly, and in retrospect not gettingthe promotion getting fired from facebook, these were some of the bestthings that happened to me. First of all, it took not getting what I wantnot getting these things to realize. I truly never wanted or need ed them inthe first place, and perhaps more importantly, they really freed up thespace, the mental energies open doors to things I actually did ant. I meanjust support for the women series eventually is really what formed thebasis for a lean out. So if I 'd become a manager, I don't think I would haveworked on that at all. So to sum up the point, we have to consciously reflecton whether we're going after things, because we truly want them or becausewe're following along with a scrift of what we are supposed to want. Last year I was giving a talk: It'sabout a thousand women at a hotel in the Midwest and during the qnd, aportion, one of them got up to the Mike and she asked if I thought women couldreally have it all, and I get this question a lot, so I turned it aroundon her bet and I asked her: What did she mean by that? You know: how is shedefining all in that question? This is my trick to get someone to keep talking.Will I figure out actually how I'm going to answer their question of whatI'm going to say so by the time whe she was done. I figured it out and Ieventually I answered her by saying that of having it all. It all meanshaving a high powered career, making it to the top of the lad or rigging theglass ceiling, making tons of money and being home for dinner five nights aweek and you know being the class mom or volunteeryng at school functions andgoing out for dinner with your spouse...

...once a week and having close connectedrelationships with all your friends and nurturing your relationship with your familymembers and no, I don't think we can have at all. I mean we can't all benumber one and everything in all areas of our life. We all have a finiteamount of time and energy, and we can only decide where to direct it, andpart of that is accepting. If we put our focus on attention on one thing, bydefinition, it means we're not focusing somewhere else. In other words, it's atrade off being a rich CEO means more of your focus, and attention has to goto your career unless your relationships- and vice versa- andthere's no judgment here, just a matter of life so of having having it all, isbeing the best and all these roles. Then, no, I don't think anyone can haveat all men or women, but if we look at our lives more realistically and weaccept the trade offs in herting our decisions and we can see the question abit more differently, maybe more practical. In other words, I think we can have itall if we define what all means to us as individuals. On the one hand, career success issimple. What do you want? What's the price thatmust be paid to get it, and are you willing to pay that price very simple,but very challenging just figuring out the first part of what you want is thejourney of a lifetime. So it's not conbe simple, with easy, it's simple,but very challenging and rewarding I'd say. So. How do you approach it? How dowe figure out number one? What do we want again? It's a lifelong journey and-and it's not something you can come up with during an afternoon workshops.Much of it involves simply paying more intention deliberately paying attentionto your thoughts and feelings. Ind cultivating self awareness and one wayto do that is to simply start by noticing the way things make. You feelnot that you have to do anything about it right then, and there, butcollecting these observations and paying attention of deliberate,intentional way, eventually, dot start to connect and I'll give you an exampleof what I mean a story that happened to me. I was a basebook. It was my secondweek at facebalk. Actually it was the same. It was at the sales conference inSan Francisco, the one where, if Yeu read Theot, you know that's where I metCharle Sambergen had that faded meeting, but after that meeting some time laterthat day, our Qinote speaker got on stage for the conference and it wasElizabeth Gilbert who wrote et prey love and I love her and I loved thatbook, and I was super excited to hear what she had to say and she had justwritten a book. I think it was called the big magic it's oncreativity, soherqenot was all about. You know crativity and fear and Iwas sitting inthe audience and pretty much toward the back. Listeningand slowly my excitement turned to Um. Iguess it was anger. I slowly felt my blood getting hot starting to boil. Iwas getting angry listening to her. I know this sounds weird, but it was fora couple of reasons. One is this is a huge passionarea forme, creativity in fear, one that I had spoken about on stage approval, butthat I really yearned to go more deeply into and and talk more at length about. So I was straight up jealous likehear's, you know a person on stage which at this point I think I startedto realize that I love being on stage and she's talking about fear andcreativity and she's talking about people who don't sort of pursue theirdreams. Like writing. So she was basically talking right into my souland I knew she was right. I was very...

...much afraid, but perhaps more than that,though, was this feeling like. I should be up there talking about this,not her. I could do such a better job like there's so many things. I know Iwould say- and of course I'm very humble, so I didnot say this out loud. I just kept it to myself, but I actually had to walkout in the middle of fer presentation because it urked me in a way I can'tdescribe and when I'm pacing outside in the hole, I'm thinking like whyis this.This is bothering me so much and the truth was was the only difference betweenElizabeth Gilbert and me, and that moment to me was she had actually donesomething about it. She actually wrote a book. She actually went after being aspeaker and talking about creativity. Not only did she write a book oncreativity, she's written lots of books and what have I done at that point? Ihad done very little, almost nothing when it came to pursuing a similar typeof dream, so there was like an envy, but more than anything was anger atmyself, anger at myself for not having taken any steps to do what I knewsomewhere in me. I was meant to do and the only difference between us, asI was sitting here, stewing and self righteousness about it. When this womanactually went after her dream and so paying attention to that reaction, itgave again, I didn't act on it right away. This is my second week of facebouht I wasn't going to like leave and try and start a new career when I hadjust started my job there, but it was a moment that stuck with me and when Iwent back to many times when I've come to this question, is you know what do Iwant? Sometimes we can't get there by thinking about it. Logically, we haveto sort of observe how we react to things and think about what they tellus. What is it that we're reacting too? In that moment, I was reacting too myanger at myself, Um for not basing my fear and starting to write and seeingher on stage sort of was this moment where I realized that's kind ofsomething I want to do and although it didn't make a huge splash or affect onme at the time, it was something like I said that you start to connect thesesimilar dots over time and it paints more of a picture of the kinds ofthings that you want in the person that you want to be so these things provide clues, but thenwhat right like? Okay, so maybe you have some idea. The problem is, youcannot keep it in your head? You can't figure it all out in your head simplyby observing and thinking that's a huge part of it and it's the start. I meanself awareness is the foundation on you know on what this is. Self awareness is the foundation uponwhich this stuff is built, but it must be coupled with action. You have toexperiment, set goals, take on a creative project having a goal forYourselve, no matter how arbitrary and I'm talking about like a goal. That'snot related to your job. If you have a feeling that you know what you're doingnow is not your true calling that I neen a goal to figure out what that is,not some goal related to Yo your job because having a goal for yourselves,no matter how arbitrary teaches you something about who you are what youlike, what you don't like and what you're capable of now. If you had toldme this ten years ago, my eyes would have rolled so far back on my head.They would ave fallen out and rolled a'clock across the floor like who istime goals, it just seems so trite in Clichet, but I am a total convert nowand I'll. Tell you the story of why? How a creative project really changethe trajectory of my life? Another story, Ou guys know a lot about.Is the time t a difficult time I went through I faceboke when I was thetarget of this really powerful senior executive, who really bullied me theentire time? I was there and it was a really really difficult experience andit was in the summer of twenty.

Seventeen had been there about a year.By that point, I gone through all sorts of ops and downs when it came todealing with this woman who I referd to in the book is Kimberly and sort of howto handle the situation on a day to day basis, because I was in arely, I hadbeen in a really dark place. It was around that time. In the summerI had decided. You know I I need to write. You know I have this book in meand it needs to come out, and this is the perfect time to really devote myself to figuring out what todo with this, how to rite a book. What my first step is- and I decided thatsummer I was going to write t he book proposal thisis in a very dark place,and this was sort of one tiny light that I could aspire toward and Istarted waking up super early every morning and working on this bookproposal from you know, half hour to an hour before the kids got up before Ineeded to go to my job and it sounds like man, you know: That's tough. You got towake up early on top of all this stuff, you hought to do, but I kept doing itand a remarkable thing happen. All of a sudden. You know working on thisproposal in this book and telling this story of what's happening to me almostin real time at this incredible effect on me, when I went to the office atbasebook every day, suddenly the attempts to Undermie me the slights,the all the things that had felt so heavy before hore all of a suddens wasrolling off my back. I had this attitude toward them. This relation toship toward what was happening. It was very different. It now sort of felt,like I had this tough Lang coading and that these things didn't bother me likethey used to, and what I know now is the reason that I felt this way wasbecause writing the proposal felt like I was taking things into my own handsthat I was going to write the story of my life and how this ends, and you know,or at least his part ends, how the next chapter begins, and I don't want togive that power to anybody else, and once I started taking that power backand taking action toward the you know, this goal that before then had seen youknow just unreachable. Now that I was taking steps toward it and I wasexpressing myself creatively, it acted as this buffer toward whatever wasgoing on in the office during the day. It just didn't, bother me as much andwhat ended up happening was the proposal. G working on the proposalgave me this tremendous feeling of power in a situation where otherwisefelt very powerless a d. What I've learned over the years, both fromreading and doing, is that our well being is fairly proportional to howmuch we feel in control of our own lives and even the smallest creativeproject of gold can give you a sense of control. That acts is a buffor to sortof the chaos in the insanity of the world around us, which we can't controlanyway, O They'r science toback us all up as well. It's pretty clear theeffects of setting goals and achieving them, because doing so not only movesyou closer to the direction you want to go, but it builds up your confidence inthe meantime, like a lot of times, big changes and the pursuit of our dreamsfeels way too paralyzing. You know changing jobs out of nowhere becoming awriter when Y, U haven't wrinten anything but email in fifteen years. Itjust sounds daunting, so we tend to just see it as a pipe dream andantidote to that is to set these small goals Anddo a little bit every day ormost days or in faces to complete them and th en when you're. At the other end,you kind of look back and say now wow. To sum up, the point: goals andcreative projects can be thecuncible where you learn about yourselfe andwhat you want, and while you pursue them, they have teside benefit ofgiving you feelings of power and being...

...control of your own life, which leadsto increased feelings of well being so when you experiment and set goals, youlearn what it is that you want and what it is that you don't want, which can bejust as helpful now to be fair, there'se certain times where your biggoal can just be surviving the day we've all been there. I've been theremany times when my kids were all babies on the weekend. I MEA just surviving toMonday was my goal, so you have to adjust when we're talking about havingit all. You have to adjust your definition of all for the contexts ofyour life at the time. Sometimes all is going to be more ambitious and that'snatural in th, the natural course of life. So three state that part. I dobelieve you can have it all so long as you're defining what all means and aslong as you accept the trade offs of those decisions, so, like I saidearlier, creer success is fairly simple. What do you want? What Hou have to doto get it, and what are the trade offs are willing? You know, are you willingto pay the price and the bulk of the work is in number one and that's why wespent more time on it today, but I want to end on trade offs because L yo'llsay a story about trade offs and and how I pay the price almost every day over the years I get asked a lot youknow had he managed at all single momof three. I had this demanding career anda cmute and household to run it it's a lot. So people often ask you know howto you. Do it an always have the same answer, whichis, I ha? I have had to lower my standards and it's kind of a joke, butit's kind of not because what it really means is. I have had to get laserfocused on what is most important in each area, each role of my life and letthe rest go. So when it comes to my kids, my relationship in connection with themis number one. I'm constantly you know surveying myself, checking in withmyself and sometimes with them like do I feel connected to them. Am I spendingthe right amount of quality time and everything else? I mean, of course, thekeep them fed and clothes and bathe, but do they have probably too manyhotdogs in a week probably like? Could they eat healthier? Yes, O? I feelguilty about that. Yes, but I work on letting it go, because the I'm only oneperson and there's only so much I can do have to priortize. What's mostimportant and I do the same thing in each area of my life. How do I figure out again? How do youfigure out what is most important, so I wanna share with you guys. I talk about this in the book. It's alittle mental device. I came up with. It really helps me figure out whatmatters and what I should let go and the mental first I'm going to tell youthe story: o Pi came up with this mental device for those of you thatread the book, Her name's Doris, but before we get to doors en explain how Icame up with Doris many years ago. My son was young, he'sabout five and he was scareshitless of et the movie, or rather he was theactual Um. I was going to say person alien et et.He was so scared of EA team, Ween't even allowed to say the letters ysee inthe house. H is probably why it was called it at h anyway. So Te, you know it's not a big deal, he'safraid of et. Who Cares. I was terrified of Freddy Creue or whatever,but the problem it presented. Excuse me was that my son was convinced that when he wouldwalk into my bathroom hi was the master bout, the only place at a bathtub inthe house. He was convinced when he walks in thereeach he would be waiting for him sitting there in the Bathstob, and thiswas terrifying to him, although I think that's seen Af you see in the Bato asfairly adorable t's, like a very cute fear to have, but for him it was not.So he wouldn't go in my bathroom or each time he did. It was like astruggle, so every bathtime I would...

...just fight with him, and it was just awhole thing. So, one day I got frustrated and I yelled at her and likehow could you be a heas get in the bathroom like? How could you be afraidof something he's not even real, and when I heard myself say that I thought Shit, I'm afraid of lot of things thataren't real. I it was time of my life. I was really trying to start writing,but I had terrible fear of posting it on my medium page thought it wasterrible and I thought you know that's not real, either fear when your five years old works thesame way as a thosand fif and fifty years old. What changes is ourperspective? I'm old enough to know et is actually not real, so he's not athreat. The only difference between my son and I is I've- had the lifeexperience in the perspectives understand that his fear is not realand silly, so being the fear works the same way at every age. The only thingthat changes oure perspective. I thought I wonder when I'm eighty, whatwill I look back on now in my life that I was afraid of that was so ridiculousand, of course I kept coming back to this fear of writing when I thoughtabout it from my eighty year old perspective, it seems so much sillierthan it seemed just moments before so I came up with this mental device.Her, I imagine myself at eighty years old I mean I come up with the whole storyand the character I'm like sitting on a porch wearing a Mumu and drinking aglass of Scotch and smoking a joint, and I call I call this person Doris, whichis, I know silly 'cause. This person is me at eighty. I don't know why I gaveher a name of Doris, but that's just how it happened, probably like justthinking of golds and girls. In the back of my mind, love that show so Iwas picturing. You know myself out there on the Linteye with mygirlfriends and this character, Doris and when I'm presented with things inmy life that I feel worked up about or afraid of. I then, in my mind, sort oftake myself to doors and talk to her like from that perspective. What is shetelling me and most of the time, she's telling me that what I'm afraid of orwhat you know I'm concerned about is not real and it's ridiculous. So ithelps me see from that perspective. What's worth getting upset about itworked up over or you know being afraid of most of the time it's actually verylittle, Um, very few things really matter from thatperspective. So when it comes to paying the price, I mean I paid a big price inthe transition from the corporate world to starting my own business andbecoming a writer so late in life, et Cetera. It's a big price to pay, mostly interms of salary and sanity. I had a great job Ogoogle an Faseboolk, andthis was you know, putting my whole lfe savings on the table and risking it forsomehone. That's, not a financial risktaker. It's a big price to pay, soDoris has been instrumental in helping me remain focused on why I paid thatprice and what will matter when I'm eighty, having stayed where I was doing.The same thing at eighty seems like a much scarier thing than having takenthe risk and gone out of my own. So that's it for today's episode ondefining success on your own terms, but of a practical angle. What do you want?What price do you have to pay to get it, and are you willing to pay that price?I wish you all success on your own individual and personal journeys andI'll see you next time and Nice. Girls don't watch the bachelor thanks forlistening.

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