The first in a series about women in leadership roles during Women’s History Month.
Early in my career, I found it disheartening when colleagues would immediately peg me as half-committed or not a true team player when I would make time for my family. Whether I left early to pick up a sick child, arrived late because my husband was traveling, or took time off to bring my dog to the vet, for years, I carried around the sting of not feeling valued.
I would shame those colleagues who didn’t know that while I left early, I was back on my computer until midnight and up at 5 a.m. to read the newspapers, scan the competition, and make calls all before I arrived at the office. It seemed no matter how I outperformed and ran circles around some of my colleagues, I was never truly feeling valued.
Maybe it was the office culture, or colleagues unwilling to grow, but one day I recognized that something had to change. The day after I resigned, the competition called. While I wasn’t looking for a new job, I agreed to meet for coffee. When I look back now, that was probably the most important cup of mediocre coffee of my career.
I pinched my arm as two women asked me to come work for them and as I shared my authentic self. I had two kids, and I wanted a third. More importantly, I wanted to be home more. While being a mother was important, my career fulfilled me. I was smart, experienced, and I most certainly knew that I would make a contribution. In return, I just needed a little more flexibility and to feel appreciated.
A little shocked when they agreed to everything, I knew I couldn’t let them down. I worked twice as many hours than I was supposed to, and I never asked for a cent more. I did it all for the flexibility. I am forever grateful to those two women who gave me the courage to be honest with myself and learn what it means to bring your authentic self to work and feeling valued.
As women, we may not get everything we think we deserve, but we can certainly learn how to become our biggest advocates. All we need is people who will listen, to feel valued, the courage to be honest and, more importantly, the ability to recognize the moments we shouldn’t let slip by.
I believe behind every courageous woman is another waiting to find her opportunity to shine.
>>Celebrate International Women’s Day with a free CAI webinar on Tuesday, March 8, from 2–3:15 p.m. ET. Join Laurie Poole, the 2022 president of CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL) Board of Governors, and a panel of amazing CAI women leaders. Register now.
As the third woman to be president of the College of Community Association Lawyers’ Board of Governors, I’m pinching myself. I’m honored to lead exceptional community association attorneys and grateful for the opportunity to explore topics that I’m passionate about in 2022.