I’m a bit late with this post, but I was traveling to give a speech this morning. The good news is I could listen to the Best of Both Worlds podcast while driving down the Atlantic City Expressway! It really does make time in the car go faster.
Today’s episode of Best of Both Worlds covers various topics, but within the loose theme of “leaning in” or “leaning out.”
Sarah is very much “leaning in” these days with her new position as program director for her hospital’s residency program. She has a lot of great ideas for medical education, and she’s also now putting her own style of leadership on the program. For instance: There will be templates. If you know, every May, that you’ll need rooms and people for interviews, why not make the process automatic? Things are a little harried until June 1, when her clinical duties will downshift a bit to reflect her administrative position. So in the meantime, she’s doing two jobs. Good times!
I’m not in a particularly “lean in” moment myself. As I describe on the podcast, I’m currently thinking of my work in three parts: books, speeches, podcasts (Before Breakfast takes more time, being daily). I published two books in the last year, so I don’t have anything immediately on the horizon there. I’m giving a lot of speeches now in May/June, but that is seasonal and should stop for the summer. The podcasts now have their own template, so this is pretty straightforward. So I might just coast for a while until something else comes to me.
The bulk of our episode covers a Facebook rant from a few weeks ago listing the various social expectations that the author felt she — and all working mothers — needed to meet. Sarah and I understand some of the frustrations, though our general philosophy is to look for practical ways to solve pain points. And also to question where these expectations are coming from. Who is “society” anyway? Sometimes it’s unclear. Sometimes we wind up internalizing ideas that are choices, not expectations.
In the question section we discuss a listener who’s asking advice on how, exactly, to let some things go. She left her job when her son was 8 months old, because she didn’t feel it could work. Now she’s going back to work, and says she knows she’ll have to “lower her standards” (her words) in some areas. How can she do that, and conquer the fear that if one thing goes wrong, everything will fall apart?
This is a complicated question, in that there is a difference between garden-variety worries and true anxiety. In the case of anxiety, it’s probably worth seeking out help, and learning new ways to cope with catastrophic thinking. For the garden-variety sort, we suggested changing her language. She “lowered her standards” with her career when she took time out of the work force. So clearly she can do it, even if that’s probably not the way she viewed that decision. It’s just a question of challenging notions of what is a requirement in life and what doesn’t really matter. Instead of “lowering her standards” I suggested thinking of achieving a lot in the areas that matter, and then viewing the others as irrelevant. I don’t walk around feeling bad that I don’t speak Mandarin, even though it’s definitely a useful language for the people who do speak it. It’s just not something I’ve ever decided to expect of myself. To go a little closer to the issue, I would venture that most of us don’t walk around feeling bad, or feeling like we’ve completely lowered our standards, because we’re not homeschooling our kids*, unless we live in the subcultures where that is expected. It’s just not an expectation many people subscribe to. So whatever “standards” are giving you trouble, or are taking too much time, see if you can move these to the not-an-expectation category. It might help.
Please give it a listen! And as a administrative note: In the next month or so, BOBW will start to feature ads. We decided it needed to become a legitimate side hustle. Thanks for everyone’s feedback on that.
*I know some listeners/readers do homeschool their children, so if that’s you, think of a different expectation as an example!