On my commute home this week during the home rush traffic, I spotted a black bra in the gutter beside where I was stopped at a light. I was en route to a speaking engagement that evening to deliver a motivational speech to a room filled with professional women whose careers were steeped in the construction and design industry. An environment I would easily label as ‘a man’s domain.’
Seeing this bra cast off into the street brought images to mind of a woman having reached her maximum and removing the constraints of social norms and protocols. Aspects of my speech came to mind: gender wage gap, ageism, conformity and denouncing scripts.
How do we know when we’ve reached our limits?
How do we know when to pull out and cut our losses …and metaphorical ‘burn our bras?’
In the moments where we realize we are not voiceless or at the mercy of others’ dreams and career objectives is precisely THE moment. As soon as we realize this, the invisible (or physical) constraints can easily be tossed away …or at minimum, this is our urge.
I liken a career to a financial investment: astute investors do a lot of research to find the best type of fund, or best and most trusted advisor. And, like investments, we typically lock in our careers for the long haul and weather the bumps as the external factors influence the ride. When we realize the investment is no longer serving us (this can also be in the form of a relationship), we sever the commitment and cut our losses. This analogy is all fine in theory, but often not practical when more than the actual investment is involved (emotions, children, income, logistics, etc.). Despite the added layers of challenge, therein exists the power to make changes of some format. For example, you may want to quit your job because your boss is a tyrant, or your life partner hogs the bed leaving you sleepless most nights. While you may not be in a position to completely evacuate, you can ask for a transfer to another department …and maybe sleep in another bedroom in the house.
While those examples may be superficial, the point I’m impressing is that once you’ve made the effort to establish a difference, or change the circumstances (ie: status quo) is the moment that the ripple of your efforts imparts results that affect others. Indeed this may cause conflict, but awareness, questions and a shift may also be the results. Nonetheless, if we don’t make the first motion, we may be wearing the same black bra ten years from now.