Working with the Empowering Women in Industry team this year has been so rewarding! I have loved connecting with so many inspiring women and learning from them. Since the start of the Empowering Women podcast, I have been thinking about how I could share some of the lessons I had learned from listening to their stories. I believe listening to each of these Empowering Women stories can help you in your careers. I understand that each person will relate to a different part of each of these stories. Hopefully, this summary of my thoughts won’t distract you from your own, but add to them. Here goes…
The Introduction to Empowering Women Podcast with Mel the Engineer. Can we just stop to appreciate the amazing podcast Mel put together… from the sounds to the vision to better the lives of career women and help them succeed – I am inspired by her every day. And let’s just say – she knows how to pick out cool podcast tunes. Listen to it here:
In episode 1, Lynn Spivey, the Director of Utilities for the City of Plant City in Florida, shares her career path. She started her early career in the U.S. Airforce working for a defense contractor in electronics. She went to school for Chemical Engineering and ended up in the municipal water and wastewater sector. Lynn has a wonderful perspective on navigating tricky career situations, and the Empowering Women team hopes you enjoy this first episode. The most “ah ha!” moment for me was when she talked about “Figuring out your Boundaries.”
Lynn explains that if she didn’t establish these boundaries, she was going to enable behavior that she didn’t want. I think everyone is different and everyone has different boundaries; when working in male-dominated fields, I think we all have a different level of “comfort” in setting those boundaries. I speak to women all the time that like being the only woman in the room; while others don’t like it one bit. Having said that, today, we need to create an inviting space and demonstrate an appropriate place for women and men to work together.
Lynn makes another powerful statement: “How strong am I?” Said a different way… what is my level right now? What can I handle today? I love that she poses those questions as these are questions we can ask ourselves…this is the part of the podcast that we can apply to our own lives. Sometimes, we aren’t in a position of strength and this is a moment where we can be taken advantage of. So, let’s ask ourselves about our own strength and our own thresholds. We need to know what this is for ourselves, so that when the occasion arises to draw (or re-draw) a boundary, that we are able to take control of the situation.
I love how she discusses “Experimenting” with her boundaries. It’s not ‘black and white’, though a lot of people want it to be. It’s just not! It makes me think about my own inclination to hug people. I am a hugger. That’s just me! But I realize that not everyone wants a hug, and it’s a lesson I continue to learn. I basically announce that I am a hugger and read the person’s reaction. Usually, I don’t hug people in business settings if it is my first time meeting them. I tend to hug the person I know in the group first. Having said that, sometimes I forget and I think it is important to notice and say sorry to the people I may have made uncomfortable. I believe in a world where hugs are great for everyone, but I also understand other people have a different boundary.
Another concept that occurred to me while I was listening to this episode was about the environmental influences in our careers. Most of us are introduced to many different career choices… how do we decide which job to pick? If we are introduced to the skills needed to do each of these jobs, we can decide which fits us best. Lynn made a choice to join the army to be educated to obtain the opportunity she needed to be successful. I believe finding the opportunity for growth is the biggest obstacle for growth. This reminds me that it’s our job to be the pioneers to shine a light on these opportunities… for the incoming workforce. We need to have cross-training programs that allow our new professionals to gain experience. For Lynn, she now has the influence to make the water industry better, and I look forward to following her leadership.
Listen to Lynn Spivey‘s story here:
Once you’ve listened to the first one, it’s close to impossible not to hit ‘play’ on the next episode…
Read my reflections on the Empowering Women Podcast Episode 2 !