Living My Thank You

Mother’s Day has me feeling all woman-y! As I read all the Facebook and Twitter posts about people and their moms and other important women in their lives, I was really touched and I reflected a lot on the awesomeness of being a woman, especially a mother and a working woman.  When I read this article from Liz Strauss, I got
a little misty (I wasn’t at work so it’s all good! See my post from last Wednesday).
Because Liz was right – even if your mother isn’t the most awesome mom ever, you had someone who mothered you and helped you grow and become a better person. So I decided this post would give “honey” to Liz—and my first “work mom,” Kelly Boykin.

I was about 6 weeks out of college when I submitted my resume for a position with the staffing company where Kelly was the General Manager. I had no staffing experience, no real experience at anything that qualified me for the job. For some reason, she hired me. And within 4 months, she promoted to be the Site Manager for our largest client.

Now anyone who has worked in staffing knows that on-site manager jobs are a big deal. I was excited for the opportunity, but I knew I wasn’t what the client wanted or
expected. Not only was I young but I looked even younger and I was not at all
polished in dealing with people. In the back of her mind I know she had to be
thinking I would tank and we’d all be out of a job. But I never saw her confidence in my waver so I performed to live up to the faith she placed in me. And to everyone’s surprise, the client grew to love me! And I blossomed in the environment and I loved the work. I knew for sure my career was headed in the right direction.

What I learned from my time working with Kelly was about being authentically yourself and making it work for you in business. We staffed for light-industrial positions. Dusty, loud, informal, male-dominated environments. It never stopped her from being herself—girly, quirky, sarcastic and endearing. She didn’t try to be one of the guys or be all super stiff and stern to fit in or get along with anyone. Kelly was real before ‘keeping it real’ was the way to be. Her sincerity resonated with our clients and staff, allowing everyone to be more themselves and focus on the goals, not maintaining appearances.

Yet when it came to appearances, on the outside looking in, it appeared Kelly had it all. She was beautiful and funny and she had a family who was just as funny and beautiful! To me, Kelly was the epitome of the work-life balance. She scheduled meetings with the same level of importance as her kid’s recitals and games with the same level of importance as a girl’s night with friends or watching her favorite show with a good glass of wine. It inspired me to seek the same things in my own life. I’m still striving to find it—but without Kelly, I’m not sure I would have really believed it was possible. My mom, as awesome as she is, comes from a different generation of balance and work ethic. Kelly represented a whole new way of handling the demands of wife, mother and career. It was a paradigm shift of awesomeness of being a working mom.

And that’s what really stuck out to me from Liz Strauss’s article. Liz talks about reflecting on things her mother experienced before giving birth to her and gaining perspective on how this shaped her mom as a human. She talks about how we see mothers as these super-humans—yet we forget the tremendous sacrifice. Moms –especially the really good ones – make everything look so easy! Mine did. Now people tell me that I do.

And Kelly did. I have no idea the stress she carried or the difficulties she faced or what she sacrificed to achieve the things she did and give so much to everyone around her, including her biological family and her work family. Now that I am a little further along in my career, I have a little better idea because I know my own stresses and struggles and sacrifices. And because of that, I appreciate and admire her even more.

Thanks to Liz Strauss’s post, I get to let Kelly know just how much she impacted my life. And I hope she thinks I am doing a good job at living my thank you.

Who do you live your thank you for? Tell me — then tell them.

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