Like many new mothers, I was nervous about reconciling my career aspirations with my determination to be a hands-on “supermom.” But it was actually my daughter who gave me the courage to launch my own business; and in many ways, I feel more capable, confident and creative than ever before. Here are five reasons why being a mom makes me a better businesswoman.
That we have the power to bring life into this world still boggles my mind. My daughter was born in August, 2013. Afterwards, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment transcending anything I had ever felt in the past. I know this is in no way a novel achievement. People give birth every single day. Nonetheless, I often find myself rationalizing: “If I can handle motherhood, I can handle this.”
As parents, we navigate countless challenges, both big and small, every single day. We are forced to make decisions with consequences—say, about the health or education of our children—as well as countless small choices, like what brand of diapers to buy or whether or not sunscreen needs to be organic. Even when you’re contemplating something trivial, the stakes seem high. I’m not utterly confident in every choice I make, but I am confident in my ability to make a decision. I’ve found this has had pleasant ramifications for my professional life. I make decisions. I make them all the time. Some are right, some are wrong, but gosh dang it, you can count on me to make a choice!
When Juliette was born, I held a senior management position at a global content marketing company. I loved my work and my colleagues. My job allowed me to travel the world, to see places I’d probably never have seen otherwise, and to face, and collaboratively solve, complex, global business challenges. I always knew I wanted to launch my own business, but it was hard to justify leaving a financially-secure role that I truly enjoyed. After Jules was born, I felt more motivated (which is saying something—I was already pretty driven). I wanted to do something that would make her proud. I felt like if I worked for myself, I’d also be working for her.
Admittedly, I was also attracted to the idea of setting my own hours and working from home so I could have more time with her. After she was born, traveling and commuting became tougher. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how motivated I’ve been. I felt, and still feel, a sense of purpose every morning as I switch on my laptop. I know why I’m working. I know what I’m working towards.
I’ve observed that the most effective employees tend to be those who have well-rounded, happy lives. It’s important to have something, or someone, to go home to after a long, stressful day. It’s paramount that you turn off, unplug, sleep, have fun—whatever. The challenges will be waiting for you tomorrow, and you’ll be better equipped to solve them with a clear mind. Even before motherhood, I was blessed with a happy, busy life—a wonderful husband, a large, loving family and a robust social network. I always took pains to balance my professional obligations and aspirations with my personal relationships and hobbies. But since Jules’s arrival, I’ve become even better at prioritizing and keeping things in perspective. Time has become, unequivocally, my most valuable resource. I’ve learned to quickly identify what’s worth expending emotional energy on. I find I can shrug off small business hiccups that, pre-motherhood, would have derailed my mood and affected my psyche. I no longer have time to “sweat the small stuff.” The upshot: I’m more productive, effective and calm in a crisis.
One of the coolest things about becoming a parent is that you get to be a child again. You watch the wonder with which your toddler approaches each new experience, and it gives you pause, too. The ocean is really damn cool. That bunny in our yard is pretty special. And that airplane overhead? Wow.
This may provoke a few eye rolls, but Juliette’s marvel and boundless energy inspire me. I love her curiosity. I admire it, even! I want to see the world as she does—as a magical place chock full of new things to discover. She also forces me to continuously flex my creative muscles. I’m required to make up stories, songs and games daily—and I love it. It’s helped me become a more imaginative thinker and storyteller.
Yes, I’ve left out the hard parts. The balancing act is tough. My most common insecurity stems from the fear that I’m not giving enough to anyone, or anything—that I’m spread too thin. I also realize I’m lucky to have a skill set and work in an industry that allow me to run my business from home. But, in all sincerity, having a child has made me a more confident, effective and creative businesswoman.
By Jacqueline Lisk