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In July 2017, I became the mother of a beautiful baby girl. She is a continual source of joy with a laugh that I don’t know how I ever lived without. Her eyes filled with wonder and a constant drive to explore, she seems impossible to contain. And as tiring as it can be to keep up with her, it is truly incredible to watch this little person discover the world and to see it through her curious eyes.

When I came back from maternity leave, I had a surprising amount of energy (especially for someone as sleep-deprived as I was), eager to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills within the team. Complacency was not an option. It was time to push for more challenges and growth. Having her in my life and knowing that she will be watching me every step of the way, I felt an obligation to pursue the things I’m truly passionate about, so I can set an example for her to follow her own dreams.

Being a working mom requires a lot of juggling but through the chaos, I’ve found that motherhood has actually made me more productive and driven. It’s shown me what’s truly important and forced me to use the time I have to focus on the things that really matter to me.

One of the ways I’ve seen a shift in my working style was jumping headfirst into learning graphics creation for social media – something I’ve always wanted to do but was too fearful to try. I felt like it was too late in my career to learn a new skill or it would be too hard or I wouldn’t have the time to learn but somehow, I now have a different mindset. I guess when you’re reading your daughter Dr. Seuss every night, the words eventually sink in: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Motherhood has changed the way I work in many ways: prioritizing, letting go of control, multi-tasking, patience and perspective.

But, if I had to choose only one way motherhood has changed the way I work, it would be: courage. Courage to take control of my career path, to pursue my passions, and to learn new things.

As a new mom, it’s always inspiring for me to hear from other moms who are navigating through their own motherhood journey. A few colleagues from SAP were kind enough to share their own “words of wisdom” on motherhood and career:

 

Debbie Curtis-Magley, Social Media Content Strategy

How has motherhood changed my approach to work? One word: Patience. As a mom, you quickly learn that you cannot control everything that occurs in your day. You’ve got to adopt a flexible attitude and agile work style. People (especially babies) don’t always respond to our timelines – they are often motivated by their own priorities and needs. So, I strive to understand what matters most to my colleagues and identify ways that we can collaborate productively to accomplish our collective goals.

 

 

Molli Jordan, SAP Employee Communications

Before I had a baby, I was a rule follower. Process-oriented. A perfectionist.  I still AM those things, but becoming a mom forced me to reprioritize.  I can’t be everything to everyone – so it’s a constant triage of what’s ACTUALLY important in the moment.  Because I’m now responsible for another human’s life, I can better recognize when something is critical or if I can just let it go.  (And not just because we’ve now seen Frozen 87,000 times.)  Perfection isn’t always the goal.  Good enough is good enough.

My son is always learning about the world around him.  He’s just testing things to see what happens, and without caring what someone else thinks.  I want him to know that it’s cool to try something new and to be different from other people, so I continue to say it to myself.   And it’s okay if you don’t know everything.  Just say, “I don’t know, but let me find out.”  Maybe someone comes back and says “you shouldn’t have done it that way” – but that’s OKAY.  No one got hurt, and you learn for next time.  When I am able to embrace that mindset, it’s very liberating and empowering.  And in that way, being a mom has made me a better, more confident employee. 

 

Peg Kates, Global Corporate Affairs

Being a step Mom has taught me how to focus on what is really important and do it well vs. trying to get to a little bit of everything, but not completing anything. When my stepdaughters are here, they are my priority as our time is limited. I make sure to stay organized and meet my deadlines…but I definitely turn off the laptop so we can have fun together!  

Having these two amazing girls in my life has changed me forever – in life and in work. And it’s because of Kallie and Ellise that I no longer confuse those two things. I am dedicated to my career, work hard, and am ambitious, but getting to that “next level” at work is not my end goal. Showing them that real success – and career satisfaction — comes from living up to your commitments, being a good team player, and giving your best effort at all times—that’s important to me.

I met my husband pretty late in life and became a wife and instant step Mom at age 42. Having two little (at the time!) girls who needed not only someone to love them unconditionally, but to be a good, steady female influence made me really step back and think about what being a leader should look like. Kallie and Ellise hear what I say but, maybe more importantly, see what I do. Treating people with respect, living up to my word, pushing myself to take on new challenges, having the ability to laugh at myself – that’s what leadership is about. I try to be a good role model for them – and make them proud of me.

 

How has motherhood changed YOUR career for the better? I would love to hear your “words of wisdom” – please share in the comments!

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  1. Miriam Leon

    Totally agreed Christina. t’s important as a mother to be conscious of your value and translate it into business acumen. Things like Prioritization,thinking ahead and being strategic, managing work stream, being organized  are skills badly need it nowadays !

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  2. Colleen Hebbert

    All of these interviews ring quite true

    These are my key lessons of the past few years

    1. Most of what we do is not life and death. We convince ourselves and get caught up in the daily grind and become stressed; worried that one mistake at work is a career limiting move, has annoyed someone, we’ll never be forgiven, etc. But when you actually confront both the beauty of life and the reality of death turning up to a work meeting and watching a few headless people believe the sky is falling is quite a challenge in empathy.

    2. Indecision is more frustrating than a bad or wrong decisions. Pick an option a fail forward. Feel like you have no choice: you do, you just don’t like the options presented. Choose one and then re-evaluate and keep finding those new options and choosing them

    3. Priorisation and first time right can be in conflict. I think I might have steralised my hands a 100 times trying to wash up bottles and prep food with the number of interruptions in an hour. Quite a few balls to juggle when you start one activity that is disrupted and eventually you get back to the original item. Some work days are like this. Just roll with it. Was the Cr@p off your hands and keep going.

    4. Ignorance is not malice: it is easy to become defensive when your partner or loved one asks you what you got up to that day when they come home and the house is a bombshell. Sometimes it is truly ignorance and it’s your chance to educate. Give them a run down in 6 minute blocks (what an accountant or lawyer might charge in) including all mundane activities when you had bub attached to your hip (hey you could count that as two clients for a double-charge) as well as pointing out when you got to interact with another adult, have coffee or eat. Same concept applies to work – sometimes people have no idea what your job actually entails and they make poor assumptions.

    5. Your health is priority 1: If you don’t function then you’ll be no good to your family. Post pregancy recovery was a killer and now I make it a prioirty to look after my health. It allows me to function better which puts me in a better position to deliver at work.

    6. Empathy – I step back a lot more and consider people are humans and make mistakes. I now try to see their point of view or figure out why they took the action they took.

    7. Remain in the present – when you are trying to get a baby to sleep one of the worse things to do is to start thinking about what comes next. I’m always planning and writing that mental to do list. If things get out of sequence or are behind my self-imposed schedule then I get stress. Stress includes the slightest tensing of muscles and change in breathing. Bub is now awake and further delaying. Staying in the moment to stay relaxed. Focus on the now. It helps in work situations: I’m appreciating the circles of control, influeces, and everything else. Focus on what can actually effect and sometimes taking no action until later is a pretty good strategy

     

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    1. Matthew Billingham

      4. Ignorance is not malice: it is easy to become defensive when your partner or loved one asks you what you got up to that day when they come home and the house is a bombshell

      That made me smile. My wife, who opted to be a stay at home mum, also had to learn not to become defensive because of her choice.

      Now we’re grandparents which is yet another stage. We seem to be developing an ever longer view of life.

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  3. Jelena Perfiljeva

    In addition to what Colleen and other wonderful mothers already said, for me it also changed the business travel completely. Before I was like “ugh, I have to take time away from shopping and playing Civilization to be stuck on a plane for hours”. And now it’s like “I can watch 2 full length movies and have someone feed me and clean after me?! Score!” 🙂

     

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