Posted by Guest Contributor
By Christie McCarthy
Originally published on the Vista Solar blog
Advanced nations are beginning to understand this phenomenon: that healthy economies cannot exist without the contributions of women; and to the extent that women thrive, countries thrive. As Secretary of State John Kerry says, “women’s issues are not just women’s issues, they’re family issues, they’re economic issues, they’re community issues.” In 2011, that key understanding inspired Hillary Clinton to create TechWomen, a professional and cultural exchange program for women from Africa and the Middle East.
Having spent the last five weeks immersed as a mentor in TechWomen 2014, I’m compelled to share my observations.
In order to participate, young women from Africa and the Middle East apply for 78 highly competitive spots. Those selected are the cream of the crop: educated, accomplished, and disposed toward careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The selection process is no less competitive for mentors (both professional and cultural) who need to show capacity, accomplishment, and commitment.
What happens next is:
This is good for American security.
Christie McCarthy has held management positions within the three key solar industry market segments of manufacturing, distribution and integration. She recently spoke on the Women in Renewables panel at Intersolar North America, and is the co-founder of the popular annual solar industry event, Solar Battle of the Bands, which is now entering its fifth highly successful year. In addition to her work in solar, Christie is an award-winning singer-songwriter and the creator of the solar anthem and video, Rise and Shine.
Posted by Rosana Francescato
What would you do if you found you were living a lifestyle but not a life? If you wereAnne Martin, the Reinvention Mentor, you’d set about creating a life you could love – and you’d reinvent yourself.
Martin told her law-to-lipstick story at arecent WCS event that had her audience persuaded we too can reinvent ourselves. She recounted how she decided to leave her position as a high-powered attorney when her young son expressed a preference for trick-or-treating with the nanny. She realize then that she wasn’t living her life the way she wanted to. She wasn’t having fun.
That led to a 16-year career with Mary Kay, a time she thoroughly enjoyed. When she decided it was time to leave that “pink bubble,” a new opportunity presented itself in cleantech, where Martin’s husband was running a startup. She experienced his reinventing that company – after the recession threatened its very existence – into a thriving business that creates mobile clean power for soldiers in the field.
So Martin is no stranger to reinvention. What has she learned about it? “You’re the owner of your own experience,” she told us. A problem, she noted, cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created it – and that’s also true for reinvention.
Shift your thinking
The first step, then, is to learn to shift your thinking from a victim to a victor mentality. That begins with awareness. Martin challenged us to start by determining whether we’re type D, danger-oriented, or type O, opportunity-oriented. Though we all have a bit of both in us, the idea is to move more toward the O.
How do you do that? Practice turning negatives into positives. Martin suggested making a list of all the negatives in a situation, and then writing something positive about each negative. That’s a great way to see that there’s always a positive side.
Along with this goes learning how to shift your energy: “What am I thinking right now?” Martin encouraged us to ask. “Is there a better way to think?”
Reconnect to what matters
The second step on the road to reinvention is reconnecting to what matters to you. This is likely to change at different stages of your life, so it’s worth revisiting. As part of doing this, Martin urged us to create an individual mission, just as companies create theirs.
An important part of that is defining your vision. Your career, Martin asserted, should follow from that and deliver a life you love. She warned against going the other way and building a life around a career – which can lead to a situation like the one she previously found herself in, when her career wasn’t aligned with her personal values. Her advice: “Create a vision for the kind of life you want to love, and then a vision for a career that supports your living that kind of life.”
Then keep moving forward toward that vision, even if the road is rocky at times. “It can be like a hike in the fog,” Martin said. “You may have to take baby steps because you can’t see in front of you.”
Build your confidence
How do you keep moving on that road? It’s essential to build your confidence. Research has shown that people who are less competent but more confident are more admired, respected, and likely to be promoted. And women, as has been much discussed lately, can often lack confidence.
Martin gave us two ways to build confidence:
Become a possibility thinker
Next, Martin asked us, “Do you see yourself as an employee or as being at the Startup of You?” Never have an employee mentality, she exhorted us – instead, be the entrepreneur of your own life.
This doesn’t mean you have to start your own business, but you can think differently about your work and take charge of enhancing your skills. These days, every industry is in flux, and work life is not about safety. It’s about being more engaged and passionate in your life.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
What if you fear moving toward something different? Martin didn’t advise ignoring the fear, but rather getting in touch with “the inner voice that questions.” She calls this voice Ethel. Ethel represents a part of our personality that wants to protect us, and will often show up as inertia.
How do we deal with Ethel? Just hear from her. Ask Ethel to share with you all the reasons you can’t have your dream job or make your life vision happen. Let Ethel rant and rave.
After a while, Ethel may calm down and adopt the voice of a strategist: “Is your resume updated?” she may ask. Ethel can be useful in pointing you to what needs to be done to move forward. She can even help manage the doubt and fear that comes with any reinvention.
You may encounter “outer Ethels,” Martin noted. Her advice? Don’t share your dreams with narrow-minded people.
Learn to trust
Finally, to move forward we must learn to trust. “Learn to trust yourself, and in a greater power,” said Martin. This need not be in a religious sense. Martin pointed to the chaos theory of dynamic systems: under a microscope it may look like chaos, but there’s a hidden orderly pattern that holds systems together. The order that holds things together is something we can trust in.
Tools to help you learn to trust include meditation and affirmations – which can come from a holy book, a self-help book, or whatever works for you.
Create a life you love
Martin left us with a paraphrase of Teddy Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the woman who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena.”
Will you take up her challenge and get into the arena? What will it take to face your fears and create a life and career you love?
Rosana Francescato is Director of Communications at Domino, a concierge service that’s helping millions of Americans get off fossil fuels and save money at the same time. She’s on the board of Women in Cleantech and Sustainability and the steering committee of the Local Clean Energy Alliance. She’s been the top individual fundraiser at the GRID Alternatives Bay Area Solarthon five years in a row.
Want to contribute?
We're always looking for a fresh perspective and good content. Please email us if you're interested.