There is a widespread perception that in business you must be ruthlessly competitive in order to survive and more importantly GROW. A constant battle with the competition to have the best products, secure the biggest market share and ultimately win. The result is business culture where competitiveness is rewarded and those who fail to show immediate and continuous results are side-lined.
Sadly it has been shown that the first casualties of this are often women who step out of the ‘rat race’ to focus on family life.
I admit that I was guilty of seeing this as weakness, believing that the women who fell away could not keep the pace and therefore were not worthy of the top prize. And anyway it was less competition for me to fight against as I continued on my race to the top.
The arrival of my first child has since made me question what exactly is this fabled prize?
Something so amazing that people will work in excess of 90 hours a week, check their emails in the middle of the night and fly half way across the world, missing precious time with their family to get?
The fact of the matter is, if you spend your life chasing material wealth then you are doomed to never be content as you will be forever slavishly chasing more. Until you finally realise that there is no prize.
With this in mind I have now come to understand that it is not weakness that has led my predecessors to abandon the race. It was more that they were able to break free of their chains and prioritise the things in life that really matter.
But this does not mean that women who decide to have a family have or should abandon careers or business endeavours. In fact the experiences that working mothers bring to problem solving and business management is immense, which is a fact that more and more businesses are discovering. We have an almost supernatural ability to multi-task, make decisions quickly and get things moving. And the key to this is collaboration, team work and a sense of social responsibility– not ruthless competition.
I believe in this strongly enough that I am prepared to put contribution to the Henley blog on top of my pile of other tasks and share some of my experiences and reflections as I attempt to juggle the Executive MBA, my new responsibilities as a mother and my looming return to work…………