Are Moms the Ultimate Soft Skill Candidates?
Last May I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Beyond Mom podcast. It has become an exercise of mine to go back through the podcasts I’ve been included in and listen to the words and thoughts I had that day as compared to where I am now.
After listening to this podcast (linked above if you’re interested!), I realized something now that I was alluding to then but didn’t fully formulate at the time: moms are the ultimate soft skill candidates.
Think back to your pre-kid work days. You probably had some amazing technical or “hard” skills and maybe even had a few soft skills, but I’m betting those softer skills grew by leaps and bounds after you had kids.
You probably learned how to be more creative (meltdown bribes, anyone?), how to exercise self-compassion (yes, it’s okay to pay the nanny for two hours while you join a spin class or just take a nap), and how to problem solve like a champ (nobody to bring kid #1 to soccer practice? Where’s that carpool list?).
These are the very skills that 58% of recently polled hiring managers find greatly lacking in the workforce. These are the skills that are taught at top MBA programs – including in my own course at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Yet, moms returning to the workforce have to face some serious obstacles.
It’s not uncommon for moms to return to the workplace feeling inadequate. These perspectives of the self often block us from returning to work with the confidence that we need to have to juggle both kids and work. But here’s where mindfulness can be a major resource. When this feeling of inadequacy isn’t coming from anywhere but inside, it’s often a false story or script that we are simply telling ourselves.
Mindfulness can teach us to recognize these stories and thoughts as exactly that – just stories and thoughts and nothing else. As moms, we come back to the workforce stronger, better, and with skills that MBA students pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to attain.
Let’s give ourselves a break. Let’s skip replaying the stories running through our heads and return to the workforce fueled by chosen messages of self-compassion and mindfulness. Let’s find our purpose at work once again and forge ahead — not as returning employees that have to keep up, but as employees that have returned armed with a whole new set of enviable skills.
Ready to dive in more? Check out HOW WE WORK: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim your Sanity and Embrace the Daily Grind (HarperWave, 3/13/18) available for pre-order now!
The boundaries that once divided our professional and personal lives have nearly vanished, blurring the lines between who we are and the work we do.
In HOW WE WORK: Live Your Purpose, Reclaim your Sanity and Embrace the Daily Grind (HarperWave, 3/13/18), Stanford University professor Dr. Leah Weiss helps us understand and bring our whole self to work with the latest research and neuroscience, as well as ancient Buddhist practices. With this holistic approach, she helps us improve our experience of the workplace by showing how we can:
- Identify and avoid toxic work situations, and reverse their damaging effects;
- Recognize how emotions can empower us with wisdom to address workplace challenges;
- Define our purpose (our “calling” and what brings us to work);
- Apply compassion (anticipating the needs and emotions of others);
- Pay attention to breathing and other body patterns, and
- Align focus and metacognition (understanding what we are thinking).
The costs of not doing so are too high. With rising turnover and training costs, leaders are increasingly recognizing the potential of the mind-body connection, and its link to higher quality work, retention and results. Quite simply, how we feel about work matters—not only to ourselves and our loved ones but ultimately, to the success of our organizations.
If you want to transform your workday into something more meaningful, a keen awareness of these feelings is an important place to start. By practicing mindfulness techniques and heart-mind training (the Tibetan practice of lojong), we can discover purpose in everything we do, placing even the smallest tasks in context with our bigger-picture goals. Seeing how each task connects to broader goals adds purpose to our days, value to our careers, and balanced emotions to our work.