When I was a kid, I played soccer. I played a lot of soccer. In fact, I started playing at 7 years old and stopped when I got pregnant with my first son, 10 years ago. When I stopped playing, I had fulfilled all of the things that I wanted to do as an athlete. I was a good team player, I still enjoyed the game and I stopped playing without suffering a career ending injury. Looking back on those days, in addition to all of the great cardiovascular exercise, I have learned many things that have helped me in my everyday working life. The lessons I learned playing soccer have taught me valuable lessons that relate to the working mother world. I want to share them with you this morning.
Rule 1- Support your teammates. Whether you are sitting on the sidelines (see the first 5 years of my soccer career) or playing in the game, you must always support your team. As a working mother, this means supporting your team whether that team is your family, place of work, or close friends. I have news for you: as women and moms, we are all on the same team, plain and simple. We need to support our team. Some of us work outside the home, some work in the home, some work part-time, and still others are what I like to call full-time working bad-asses! We are all still on the same team and most of us are dealing with the same issues in our lives. Not one of us is perfect and we all need support. Instead of wasting time comparing and competing with our teammates, lets support each other in our respective journeys. Always support your team!
Rule 2- Practice makes perfect. Lets face it, there are very few of us that possess pure, natural talent. Nothing was more clear to me than playing on the field. I was never fast enough or aggressive enough or big enough. I found that after years of practice, practice, practice, I got better and worked smarter. I was never going to be a natural soccer player, but rather, I worked for every goal I scored or every steal I made. The same is true with working. In order to be successful at anything, you have to keep practicing. I was not born a blogger, or a writer, or even an editor. I have worked hard for months to get up to speed on the things that I need to learn in order to make this website a success. The more work I put into it, the better I will get. If I don’t get better, I will try harder. I encourage you to do the same!
Rule 3- No guts, no glory. Sometimes in soccer, you go for a ball when you know it’s going to hurt. It is a big play and the rewards are potentially huge, like scoring a goal, but you know that you will likely get beat up by the goalie- but you do it anyway. Why? You do it because sometimes you have to ignore the risks and be bold to score. My journey with Proud Working Mom (proudworkingmom.com) has been a long one and the goal is to bring all working moms together in a positive way. Yet still there are women who don’t agree. I am being bold in my attempts to unite my fellow Proud Working Moms and as the say…go big or go home. In life, I have never regretted trying something and failing. I have done plenty of that. My only regret is when I let fear hold me back from trying. In work and at home, take chances, you will never regret it!
Rule 4- It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game. Whether you are playing soccer, in a courtroom, or in a boardroom, integrity is king. When you play on the soccer field, you play by the rules and beat the other team with your skills, not with shortcuts. Integrity cannot be bought, it is earned. What can take a lifetime to earn can be destroyed in a second by a bad decision. We see real life examples of this everyday. There are a growing number of high profile individuals who have literally spent their entire careers building up trust only to be destroyed in an instant by bad choices (see Anthony Wiener and Elliot Spitzer, just to name a few). It is never worth it. The bad choice or shortcut will never be worth sacrificing your integrity. Conduct yourself with integrity at all times and beat out your competitors with your skills. For anyone in the working game, integrity is an essential element of success.
Rule 5- Have fun! Ok, I have to confess that with my 7 year-old’s soccer team, this is actually the first rule of soccer. Since we are all adults, I have moved it to 5. Having fun is still an important rule of the game. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, it will be too much like work. I will confess that when I played soccer, the two-hour practices were brutal. But after the work was done, I was proud of what I was doing and enjoyed lots of things about soccer. I enjoyed being part of a team, my teammates, the smell of the grass at an evening game (which I still remember) and let me add that winning didn’t suck. As a working mother, there are things that stink like waking up at 5:00 a.m. every morning or traveling every week away from your family. Focus on the positive things that your job allows you to do for yourself and your family. Have some fun!
In addition to working with ProudWorkingMom.com, I am a soccer mom of sorts, coaching my 7 year-old’s soccer team (The Blue Dragons). It has been more fun that I ever imagined. I can’t sit these kids down and teach them the 5 rules that I have shared with you. I can only hope that by playing the game, they learn these lessons and it helps them in life.
Now that you know the rules of the game, get out there and play!