The world has a heavy weight that we tend to carry on our shoulders. For decades, women have been making their way to equality with men in the work force. The wage gap, job abilities and skill sets, open positions and more have not been setbacks but hurdles for women to overcome. As any woman is transitioning from one point in her life to another, it’s important that she understands who she is and what’s best for her. Today, Clint Bruce answers the questions of real, young female professionals to encourage them in their career and journey through life.
Q1: What’s your best advice to a young professional woman who’s considering taking a couple of years off to spend with her children and how can she still stay in touch with her professional life?
Clint: Let me quickly disclaim that this is what I would tell my girls, and what I’ve learned from conversations with great women who have done just that. This isn’t a reality I’ve experienced and not what my Bride and I went through when she had our girls. BUT – there is recoverable time and irrecoverable time.
You can recover professional time. It’s hard. You have to be creative. It may stretch you in ways you didn’t know you could stretch. It may even cause you to rethink what is important to you. But being stretched, forced into creative thinking, imposing personal reflection and thoughtful introspection on yourself … those are good things. We need to be doing those things to ourselves anyway. Velocity, efficiency, inertia … these are chips on the table in our professional lives.
But you can’t recover the years you know to be best and most needed for having and raising children. You can’t recover time lost on your children’s clock and calendar. Each family is different. Some families work great with two professional schedules. Some children thrive on quality time. Some on quantity. With my kids, it’s both. If my daughter were to ask me this question in her professional years I wouldn’t blink. I would say “Sweetheart, always choose the adventure. There’s always enough time for the adventure.”
Time is something I think about often. It’s the one absolute the world has agreed to… the day cycle: 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. You can’t buy more days. The richest person on the planet could not buy another second of life. But in much of the world the rich and the poor can choose how they use their time.
Truthfully, most of us are better for having planned periods of time away from our professional endeavors. Adventure has a thousand benefits – physiologically, mentally, and spiritually. We come back into our professional worlds renewed, with new perspectives, and with expanded capacities for uncertainty, adversity, and discomfort… all of these things make us better at our work. And there is no adventure like becoming a parent.
There’s never been a better time to stay connected to a profession or to explore new ways to provision for yourself and those you are responsible for. This is an era that fully empowers the entrepreneur and skilled freelancer.
Grab and hold the thing you can’t create, the thing you can’t buy more of. Time with who you love and doing what you love… don’t sell that. I’ve lost a lot of my friends. I buried my father when I was young. I know about running out of time. Running out of time with who you love most in the world… that’s a binary deal. They’re here, or they’re gone.
Q2: How do you say no to a project or opportunity you know isn’t a good fit for you?
Clint: Huge question. Great question. And again, it comes back to stewardship of our time, our talent, and what we view as our treasure. I’ve not always known what I was doing, but I’ve always known why I was doing it. One is technique, the other is trajectory.
What do I mean by this? I’m not talented enough to have that much margin in my motivation. I know that I’m going to make mistakes. I know that I’m going to fail at times. I know that often things aren’t going to work out the way I wanted them to. When those things happen – the only way you get back up and get after it again is if you know why you’re doing it.
Knowing why you are doing something gives you that resolve, resilience, and ability to reorient so required for success. Having a process for choosing what you do is vital. Knowing that it aligns with your goals, gifts, ethos, and morality allows you to properly fuel your heart, mind, and soul for the adversity you’re going to encounter along the way.
Learning when and how to say “no” is the sign of a professional. It means you know you well enough to know (i) exactly what you can excel at, and (ii) who can you excel for.
Q3: What’s your best piece of advice for female entrepreneurs who aren’t sure how to take the plunge of running their own business?
Clint: I don’t know that there is a distinction between male and female entrepreneurs. I’m not saying there isn’t… I’m saying I literally don’t know, because… I’m a dude. I do know, and I wish it weren’t so, that there are often additional considerations and challenges women face as they consider launching a business or pursuing certain careers in the professional world. It’s stupid. I hate it. And I’m sorry for not being as aware of it as I should have been before I had daughters. I’m doing what I can to crush those gaps.