Transition: Mind the Gap

"Please pull out a piece of paper," I asked participants at the outset of a career event that I facilitated at the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. "Write down we're you'll be in five years," I instructed. We spent the next 20 minutes discussing what folks had jotted down. What happened next amazed me.

"Please pull out another piece of paper and answer this question: If you had to work for the rest of your life but couldn't get paid, what would you do?" Silence. Hear a pin drop kind of silence.

Each person then took turns sharing their answers to this second question. Do you know that no one had the same answer to question #1 versus question #2? In fact most of the response to #2 contained rich insight into the people who sat in the room. We were introduced to their genuine, honest, and exciting selves. None of which we had seen in the answer to #1.

Did I mention that all attendees were women?

I had been asked this question a decade earlier by Professor James Cash, one of my professors from The Harvard Business School. Honestly I am still searching for an answer 10 years later. Here is the quandary -- for the decade that evolved since I first learned of this great question -- I've achieved an enormous amount! Or have I really?

This blog is about my journey to answer this question. It's about the transition process, with particular emphasis on women's professional and personal transition.

My hypothesis is that women, more frequently than men, face transition. The typical roles we serve are broader and evolve more completely based on a number of factors: Are you a parent? What are the ages of your children? Are your parents still living? What are their support requirements? What type of community are you involved in? What have you chosen for your vocation? What types of requirements go along with that role? And many many more questions.

If you choose to walk with me through this transition process I'll share with you the major and minor victories along with way and likely the wonderful energy that it produces. Maybe we'll learn something together...

So, if you had to work for the rest of your life but couldn't get paid, what would YOU do?

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