Working vs. Stay at Home Moms

Today, more than two thirds of married mothers are employed. But does work improve a mother’s well being, or does employment stretch these mothers too thin? Do some stay-at-home moms thrive or do they generally suffer more than their working counterparts?

New research reports that stay-at-home moms have increased levels of anger and depression in comparison to working women.1 In addition, working moms have shown heightened mental and physical health at age 40. However, it is clear that some stay-at-home moms thrive and our pleased with their choice. This blog merely summarizes recent findings and trends.

New research additionally states that in regards to family life, two-earner families have demonstrated decreased rates of divorce, and maternal employment has shown no negative effects on children’s levels of intelligence.

Now it is evident that not all work is the same. Undoubtedly, women who work out of economic necessity at low paying jobs may not experience the same benefits as other working mothers.  This aside, plenty of working mothers (and their families) are reaping personal, familial, marital, and long-term benefits aided by their status of employment.

In the next blog I’ll continue the discussion with my thoughts on Cheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, as well as the tradeoffs for both working mothers and stay at home mothers.

1Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/coontz-the-triumph-of-the-working-mother.html?_r=0
JS

 


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Amplify Individual, Team, and Organizational Performance by Transforming Thoughts into Words and Actions

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher recently died in 2013, but her legacy will live on forever. The following quote comes from the movie Iron Lady, which was titled for her frequently uncompromising politics and leadership style.

“Watch your thoughts for they become words
Watch your words for they become actions
Watch your actions for they become habits
Watch your habits for they become your character
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think we become.”

This quote depicts how our thoughts effectively can mobilize our subsequent actions and work performance.

In our professional lives, we can become more effective individuals, teammates, and leaders by:
1. Harnessing our conscious thoughts — rather than acting upon fleeting emotions.
2. Actively using words that reflect our thoughts and can then generate goals and actions.

Once these actions are repeated over and over again, we create momentum that results in new habits and rituals, serving as the cornerstone of successful behavioral change.  By connecting our thoughts, words, and actions, we can impact our futures and achieve our true professional and personal goals we each desire.

 

JS


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How You Can Make the Most of a Bad Economy

What can young college grads do when four years of college and a degree draw next to nothing during a recession? A recent New York Times Fashion and Style article seeks answers. How will this new generation of college graduates make the most of their lives and careers, despite a recession and widespread unemployment?

Unfortunately, the economic recession has limited the career opportunities for many young and talented people. But many of those interviewed haven’t given up on living a fulfilled life. Despite a lack of work, they adapt and make use of their skills as best they can.

As many continue to search the job boards, there are some executive coaching tips which can help.

  • Find meaning in whatever you do. One interviewee graduated college with scant job prospects. While she made the best of a low-end job, she also did volunteer work after hours.
  • Make the most of what you’ve learned. What’s hard about unemployment is the feeling that your talents are being squandered. Many of those interviewed utilize their life skills by joining bands, blogging, and getting involved with their communities. It may take hard work, but finding that balance in your life is always worth it.
  • Talk to a career coach. A coach can help you make sense out of how you will design your next-phase career. They do more then offer you advice, they’ll be involved with helping your look at every option and making the best decision possible for your future.

The worst that can happen to many in this situation is stagnation. Those interviewed may not have the careers they sought in college, but they still continue to do things that matter. Being fulfilled is vital, almost as important as being employed.

 

JS


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Seeing Eye To Eye

On July 25, an editorial in The New York Times lambasted the Republican Party for walking out on President Obama’s meeting concerning the nation’s financial future. Politics aside, the piece pointed out something interesting: a lack of compromise. According to the article, the walkout stemmed from an unwillingness by both parties to reach an consensus.

On August 2, a bill to raise the nation’s debt ceiling was finally signed into a law. CNN spoke with Fareed Zakaria of Time Magazine on about how the lack of compromise from Tea Party hardliners nearly held the country hostage.

Compromise is a fact of life. As children, we were taught to share. We cannot always have our way, but we can reach an agreement by which we and another party can both be relatively satisfied. Many of us learned compromise by simply sharing our toys and reaping the rewards of community. The same lessons apply when we broker business deals or negotiate decisions with friends and loved ones.

We all have to protect our own interests, and sometimes it’s difficult to find the middle ground. Here are some executive coaching tips for learning how to compromise effectively.

  • Know what the other party wants. Likewise, decide what exactly you want out of an agreement. By knowing exactly what all parties want out of a deal, it will make negotiation smoother.
  • Know when to make concessions. Along with knowing what you want, know what you can let go. It can help if you’re willing to give the other party something they want for something you want.
  • Refrain from a stubborn “my way or the highway” attitude. Listen to others who weigh in on the matter. Ignoring or cutting them off is a sign of disrespect and can put everyone on the defensive.
  • Conversely, don’t tolerate disrespectful behavior from others. Let them know that, if they’re not willing to at least listen to you, you’re not willing to talk.
  • Focus on the situation and resist the urge to judge the people involved. Nothing breaks down communication as badly as throwing around accusations that someone else is being “difficult” or “stubborn” if things aren’t going your way.

If employed from a position of strength and awareness, compromise will prove a much more powerful tool than stubbornness.

JS

 


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What Can We Learn From New York’s Gay Marriage Victory?

On June 24, New York became the largest state in the nation to recognize gay marriage. According to a New York Times article, the state government approved it by 33 “for” votes to 29 “against.” Four Republicans ended up becoming the deciding votes by basing their decisions on their personal and professional feelings, rather then voting the party line. Had it not been for them, the vote could have been deadlocked.

Even Senator Mark J. Grisanti from Buffalo chose to remain undeclared after, by his own admission, struggling with his own party and with his personal opinions. He stated that he could not deny a fellow New Yorker the same basic rights he and his wife enjoy.

In executive coaching, it’s important to come to terms with change. What was once taboo can actually be accepted in time. Our values, opinions and goals may evolve. Humility and respect are often integral values involved in personal and professional growth.

New York’s groundbreaking civil-rights breakthrough can teach us a number of executive coaching lessons:

  • Though we may feel offended, or disagree with what’s popular, we must consider respectfully tolerating our differences.
  • For Senators like Grisanti, it became increasingly difficult to find a clear legislative reason to vote against gay marriage. If we don’t like a person, or group of people, it helps to ask why we don’t and if our position is reasonable. Quiet introspection is a very potent coaching tool.
  • According to the article, a statewide poll revealed the proportion of residents in New York supporting gay marriage ballooned from 37% in 2004 to 58% at the start of 2011. Society continues to change and evolve. Accepting changes over time may help us accept those we used to consider so different from us.
  • Lastly, remember legalization of marriage in one state is only one big step on this particular civil-rights front – an important one, but one that needs to become accepted more on a national level to have greater impact on the culture at large. This relates to the concepts of follow-up and maintenance in executive coaching – as you achieve new goals at work and in life, it’s important to stay focused on what’s ahead.

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Hero: Elena Bonner

On June 19 2011, Russian Human Rights activist Elena Bonner passed away at age 88. Her legacy includes a long marriage to the famous Soviet physicist and dissident humanitarian Andrei Sakharov. But she was a force all her own as an activist, fighting for human rights during and after the Soviet Union’s brutal Stalin regime.

Bonner grew up when dissidence and criticism of government was discouraged, to put it mildly. She and her husband’s abandonment of their Soviet government positions turned the KGB against them and led to their banishment from the country. Even in exile, they continued to push for human rights even after the USSR’s collapse.

Bonner stood up for those who couldn’t stand for themselves, even when it lead to scorn, hostility and exile. Her heroic example reinforces a few key executive coaching lessons:

  • Elena Bonner had great respect for people of all religions and faiths. Learning how to practice tolerance and acceptance, and to foster cooperation despite different points of view, is important for those who want to grow as leaders and people.
  • Bonner and her husband took a lot of flack when they fought for human rights. Do what you know is necessary, even if it doesn’t make you popular.
  • No one sphere of life exists independently of the others. Thus, it is important for business leaders to support, and sometimes join, global and local activists who are fighting for positive change.
  • According to Bonner, “The most deplorable teaching is the superiority of any nation over another.” To put it another way, arrogance is a dangerous enemy. If you consider yourself entitled or superior, you lose your true power in negotiations and your actions may make things worse for everyone involved.

We can’t all fundamentally change the course of a nation’s history, but those who fight for humanity and responsible freedom over tyranny are powerful examples for all occasions.

JS
 


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The Balance of Manhood

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner now joins the elite group of public officials who’ve damaged or destroyed their political careers over a bad decision. A New York Times op-ed article, “Those Manly Men of Yore,” looks at why powerful men make these kind of mistakes. The piece explains how, historically, sexual restraint was proof of a more capable man.

The idea of self-restraint is nothing new as writers from the Roman age celebrated men who controlled their desires, according the article. Obviously, many women have been in favor of greater restraint in men, in order to help protect family unity. (The author of this article happens to be female.)  Can greater restraint potentially strengthen the family and honor marital vows?   Possibly but the issue is greater than this question.  For each man, to be alive and strong, actually needs to strike a balance between restraint and pleasure.

The concept of managing oneself is important in my model of executive coaching. For example, it’s vital for those looking to quit smoking or excessive drinking to exert greater self-control. For those like Anthony Weiner, former California governor and Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, or struggling Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, restraint theoretically would have saved both their careers and reputations.

However, in life, and in coaching, we discuss when there are  pulls in two directions, as there are with the forces of restraint and “nirvana.”   Nirvana, enjoying and living in the moment,  is the opposite of restraint.  This tension is managed by all throughout the life span.  All men deal with these tensions and generally strike a balance that works.   Each man finds himself in a unique situation, culturally, situationally (i.e, married/unmarried, living in a dictatorship or free country,etc.), and needs to determine his approach to this tension.

Some coaching ideas include:

  • There is nothing at all wrong with feeling physical attraction to someone, even if you’re in a relationship. But there is a difference between recognizing attraction and acting on it.
  • Unfaithfulness can belie a lack of responsibility in a married person (unless a couple is in an “open” relationship that is mutually agreed upon).  A lack of restraint is apparently far more serious in the public eye in a married man than in a single man.  Anthony Weiner “sexted” women while his wife was flying around the globe with Hillary Clinton.  In general, the public has a different standard for a married man.
  • Managing oneself  is apparently one component to leading a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to manage habits such as food, drugs, gambling, and alcohol can prevent a lot of bad consequences.
  • If you are having difficulty with the tension between nirvana and restraint, consider talking to an executive coach or counselor who can help you get clear on what you want.

 


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Lessons of a Washington Scandal

For the past week, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has been harshly criticized for “sexting”: exchanging lewd photos with numerous young women, one allegedly a minor, during business hours as a member of the US House. The fact that he’s also married only make his situation more embarrassing. Politicians, editorial columns and President Obama have chastised him and challenged him to resign.
For an increasing number of Americans, “sexting” is an accepted part of flirting online, widespread in the age of Facebook, Twitter, and countless dating sites. But Weiner’s celebrity, his leadership role and his additional missteps have turned this personal foible into a damaging national scandal.
Regardless of how we might judge Rep. Weiner’s actions and the public’s reactions, we can agree that this episode has thusfar worked out quite badly for him. In my executive coaching work, I refer to this sort of impulsive, destructive behavior as spinning out of control, and I have developed techniques that can help you stop the spin, balance your perspective, and retake control of your life. If you find yourself in a situation like this, keep these things in mind:

  • If you’re sharing any information about yourself, particularly online, take a moment to think about how far it might spread and the damage it might do.
  • Know who you’re dealing with and don’t make assumptions. The anonymity of the internet makes it easy to interact with people who aren’t who they say they are. If Weiner flirted with a minor, whether he knew it or not, his personal issues may become legal issues.
  • Our personal relationships, especially with our spouses and families, affect every other aspect of our careers and our lives. Problems at home can never really be kept hidden. They must be addressed.
  • Remember that the online world is not separate from the real one. Don’t devote time and energy to sites like Twitter and Facebook if it detracts from your professional success.

With the opportunities of new technology come emergent risks. Rep. Weiner may resign his Congressional seat or he may lose his approaching re-election bid. (Right now, he appears to be leaning toward outright resignation.) His marriage may end or he may be able to save it and discover ways for his wife and himself to heal. Somehow, he will have to live down his public humiliation. The best that we can do is to learn from his example, know how to recognize the spin, and take control before we lose control.
 


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Understanding Change in Agriculture and Life

To avoid a global food shortage, changes may be coming to agriculture and food production. According to an article in the New York Times‘s environment section, “A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself,” experts in food cultivation and farming warn of dwindling crops due to climate change.

The rise in temperature is hurting agriculture and causing a rise in food prices. Dwindling food stocks also threaten less fortunate countries with starvation. That is, unless the food business and the food itself change with the times.

Farmers and scientists are creating new innovations in developing crops that can handle the rising temperatures and the sudden changes in weather. (For example, the article examines one Indian farmer’s surprise success with a new variety of rice.) But they stress that our habits and our assumptions about how we eat must adapt to avoid high prices and low yields.

Sudden changes can be daunting, but keep in mind some of these coaching techniques:

  • Keep yourself in the loop regarding technology, the environment and the food we will be eating. Read newspapers and news websites to keep yourself current with what’s happening. Keeping current with today can help you prepare for tomorrow.
  • Plan ahead. If the price of food is higher, alter your budget and your shopping habits to meet those changes.
  • Don’t do anything drastic. Recall that in 1999, some were convinced that computers would go haywire on New Year’s Day 2000, sewing mass chaos. In the end, nothing happened to those who spent way too much buying needless supplies.
  • Understand that everything is subject to change. If you feel anxious about something you don’t understand, then research it for yourself. In the online age, there are countless resources dedicated to everything from basic biology to agriculture.
  • Don’t believe everything you read. Some resources are more objective and reliable than others.

Home Ownership and Changing the Dream

Not long ago, owning a home was considered the “American Dream.” Today however, people are disenchanted with the idea of homeownership. The New York Times article entitled “Housing Index is Expected to Show a New Low in Prices” interviews people who choose to rent and adapt their investments in the midst of a housing slump sometimes compared to the Great Depression.

Unemployment, foreclosure and underwater mortgages have led many to prefer renting and pursue investments that don’t involve residential real estate. Investors have become more creative as they search for new markets with more secure returns.

As the housing market struggles to right itself, the advantages of renting and new investments strategies have become more accepted, according to the article. For those deciding what to do in terms of real estate and investing, here are some coaching tips to keep in mind:

  • Look into investments which are more secure. Currently, gold and other precious metals are highly sought after. Also, try looking into stocks in the S&P 500.
  • Reevaluate your future plans when finding a new place to live. If you don’t want to be tied down to one location, renting may be more preferable then owning.
  • The housing ebb is a buyer’s market. Potentially, you can purchase a house with the plan to sell when the market regains.
  • Always consider speaking to a professional. There are numerous companies that offer experienced advice and help look for other investment opportunities.

It’s difficult for experts to predict the market within the next few years. However, making decisions based current information can help when deciding where to live and what to invest in.

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