If I see one more article talking about work life balance for working mothers and using a successful female executive as an example, I will scream. While I applaud their success, I wonder about the millions of women who will never relate to these examples and are left feeling inadequate. Success is not just about reaching the executive level of the corporate ladder or making millions, it is also about overcoming adversity and making more than enough.
After reading Secrets to Being Both an Executive and a Mom on Entrepreneur magazine, I came away with the usual feeling of complete lack of ability to relate to the woman in the article. The woman is Kira Wampler, Chief Marketing Officer of Lyft. She explains how she prefers 'flow' rather than balance. Sometimes she spends more time in the office, other times she spends more time with the children.
Who would not love the chance to be in an amazing job, with the flexibility to change your schedule and spend more time with your kids when you need to? That kind of flexibility exists in a very small minority of cases because you need:
To be the boss or have a boss who is understanding and can afford to give you that flexibility.
Have people who can help you with childcare when you need to work late.
Or able to afford private child care.
Or have a husband who will take on that role.
I have no problem with Kira Wampler. She is in her position because she has worked hard to get there and deserves everything she has achieved. My problem is with the fact that the only success stories I see are those of women in a position that most of us will never find ourselves in. Then we are supposed to relate to that success, use it as motivation, and empower the millions of women struggling daily to improve their situation.
Where are all the stories about the majority of women struggling as single mothers, overcoming health issues, mental health issues, lack of support, family problems, or lack of education? These are the kind of problems faced by most women. These are the kinds of stories that we need to hear so any woman who wants to improve the situation for herself and her family has a realistic role model to compare themselves to.
I know there are people who have become an incredible success starting from nothing, fighting horrendous childhoods and extreme poverty. However, the recipe to success is about much more than just getting off your arse and getting on with it. There are many factors involved including current situation, past history, self-esteem, support, timing, and a little bit of luck.
Telling someone to set a goal and work towards it is assuming we are all the same. We’re not. We are complex individuals. We each have different triggers and respond to different motivation.
We need real world role models. I want to hear about the single parents working low paid jobs who managed to get their kids to college. I want to hear how people triumph despite suffering with depression or a physical problem. I want to know how stay at home moms, rejected by the workplace because of lack of experience, end up running a home-based business.
It’s not enough to hear the start and the end of the story, we need to hear about the steps they take in between. We need to hear it so millions more women can relate to their stories and raise the standard of living for the majority, not through government assistance and control, but through grassroots success stories.
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