The Power of Focus

Originally posted 9/19/09

What working mom wasn’t fascinated by Kim Clijsters’ beating Venus Williams last weekend? As for me, I said, “YES!” with such a feeling of vindication. Having felt guilty for a year and a half as a working mom in corporate America, it was so validating to see that a new mom can actually defy everyone’s expectations.

Later, I read an article in the New York Times that offered a very different perspective, and reminded me of one of the quiet battles that women face in corporate America today…the singles versus the marrieds. It’s hard for married women not to get frustrated at being sidelined once they have kids, considering that their newfound focus and efficiency makes them highly effective in the workplace. On the other hand, single women often get stuck cleaning up after the marrieds are gone for the day. After all, not everything important at work happens between nine and five.

How is it that after all the efforts made so that women can do and have whatever they want, we are still struggling to find our right balance? For me, it is in the power of focus. It doesn’t matter that Kim Clijsters had a child, or that Venus Williams hasn’t. What matters is that Kim Clijsters saw what she wanted and went after it. As a top seeded tennis player having a child, I can only imagine the gremlins in her head…”You’ll never get back in shape….You’ll never be on top again…”

Dreams don’t come true all at once; it’s a process. When we move forward with our dreams in spite of gremlins, each small victory along the way empowers us and propels us forward. Each small success convinces us that we are on the right track and brings us closer to being our most authentic self. From that place, it’s easy to live and let live; to be OK with others’ having the things they have, and to support them in pursuit of their own dreams. We all gotta be ourselves.

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