On Opportunity

Look

If you had

One shot

Or one opportunity

To seize everything you ever wanted

In one moment

Would you capture it

Or just let it slip?

Eminem

Today during a conversation I was asked to describe a role, how I saw the plusses and minuses, that we are looking to fulfill in our group. And this is what I said: “The plus, or minus depending on your view, is that it is a new role, so you are the one driving the definition (within reason) of the position. For a person that thrives on challenge, I can’t think of a more exciting opportunity to take charge and truly make a difference in an organization.” Honestly, if I had more relevant experience, it would be a role I would love to try to step into. What could be more empowering? Depending on your risk profile and your personal goals, this is one of those chances that are once in a lifetime. But at the core is this: the right match. The right time.

For someone entering what could be described as an odd combination of the beginning and twilight of a career, I see both sides of the story. In some ways I feel I have missed my chances, because let’s face it, a woman almost 50? How far can I climb from where I am? Most people at this age are at or close to the pinnacle of their careers, and are looking to groom their successors to pass on the torch in 10 years or so. I started so late full time that I am behind the curve in some ways. Make no mistake, I am very blessed to be where I am, but I look around and see many with a similar pedigree and age with so much more relevant experience, and when we talk about successors, I bristle just a bit because I think there is so much I still want to do. Ageism exists, and once you get to a certain age…well. I have had many a conversation with young talent, and one thing that always catches me off guard is the seeming dismissal of experience. And I think, these could be my bosses…. Luckily some people tell me I look 35, so unless I have to tell people I am 47, I can perhaps get away with passing for a younger woman and not be overlooked when people think of who might be in the position to invest in to climb the ladder. Ironically, that comes with the double-edged sword of being dismissed because I am young. How much experience does one have in their 30s, really? (But, perhaps, experience may not weigh as heavily as I believe it does?). I remember an old colleague, who thought I was much younger, was a bit shocked when I said I was only one year younger than him. It was a bit upsetting to see how his view of me changed (he thought I was a superstar with all my knowledge, at a seemingly young age). It was disconcerting to be categorized by a number which I had no say in creating, and not by my accomplishments, skill, and talent.

So today, while my retirement savings say I need to be more conservative in my stocks and bond ratios, I find myself being a bit more risk taking. Because as I age, I see that there may be a glass ceiling defined not only by my gender but by my age. Not just by society, but also nature. It is just the way things are, how life plays out. Although I feel that this is not yet the end, I see it on the horizon. And with that knowledge, I make the promise to myself to jump if the opportunity to get what I want is there. But as I age, what I want to jump for narrows. Right now, as long as there is a sunset in paradise, I’m in.

One thought on “On Opportunity

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