The Fall Before the Rise

Four years ago I was kicking goals left, right and centre. I was riding high on my career success and the long hours were paying off. The personal sacrifices were paying off. Missing many of my child’s school events was going to be worth it after all. Feeding my family takeaway dinners or slapped together meals was finally going to be worth it. The lack of sleep, the lack of social life, the lack of “fun” was all going to be worth it. I had worked really hard to get where I was and I was unashamedly proud that I had been able to keep pushing forward despite life’s challenges; and there were many.

I had made it to the position of General Manager, in a complex organisation at just 29 years old. I had reached senior management level about 15 years before I had expected to. I was a young, female senior manager. Full of energy and enthusiasm, I was ready to tackle the world’s problems and show universe I was made of! I felt extremely privileged that I had managed to creep into a secret doorway, which the was usually closed tight to anyone in the industry who wasn’t male and over 50 years old. I was awestruck and ready to learn from anyone willing to teach me.

Although I had made it through the metaphorical doorway into senior management, I certainly wasn’t resting on my laurels. I could not afford to be complacent as I had heard stories about what had happened to all the female managers before me. According to office legend, the senior female managers of days gone by were well liked, hard workers and had a compassionate way with the employees. Slowly but surely, these corporate lady pioneers quietly exited stage left, only to vanish without a trace. These were highly established career women in their late 40’s or above, who had forged the pathway for young women like me. The question I failed to ask at the time was, “where have all these fabulously fierce and strong female leaders gone?”

Regardless, I was fresh faced, ready and eager for the challenge.

What I did know is that if I wanted to maintain my position at the table with the old boys club then I would have to keep fighting tooth and nail to remain there. I was going to make this work and I was going to prove to them through hard work and determination that I deserved to take my place at their table. I was on daily mission to demonstrate that this young, female manager had what it takes not only make it to their table, but to become an equal member of this elite club. I was going to nail this!

I must mention here that I certainly did not get to this fortuitous position on my own. I was very lucky to have the backing of an over 50’s gentleman, who I now fondly refer to as one of my influential career mentors. He was not really fond of the old boys club¬†either and believed in the radical notion that perhaps women could be successful leaders too. ¬†He was the one who put my name forward for the role and became my advocate, campaign manager and cheerleader all in one. He later became my confidant and in-house psychologist…..but I’ll get to that later.

So I began my new journey and I was truly happy. I was on great money and I felt like I was making a positive impact in my small corner of the world. I felt fulfilled and I was living my dream before I has even hit my 30’s. I was (am still am) so grateful for that part of my life. I had worked my ass off to be there and I wasn’t stopping now. I started gladly and freely pouring energy into educating, upskilling and empowering those around me. I wanted everyone to believe in their capabilities and to strive to be the best they can be. I wanted to help them feel as empowered and positive as I did. I wanted to give back, be of service and help others believe that their goals were also within reach.

I was floating on cloud nine, while fist pumping the air on a daily basis from all the positivity around me. But as the laws of physics dictate, what goes up must come down. Way. Friggen. Down.

 

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