Category: Navigating Workplace Challenges

6 Ways Smart Women Pursue Growth In Their Careers (That Help Them Achieve Success)

However you define success, there’s a way for you to reach it!

Smart women pursue career growth strategically. Life happens and work life can create challenges for women’s career growth. Because women are more likely than men to spend more time doing household chores and childcare, you may feel bogged down. That’s why a strategy, defined as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim,” can help you focus. 

RELATED: 5 Ways To Balance Your Love Life And Career Without Killing Yourself

When you think strategically without the emotions guiding your planning, you are able to be realistic and thoughtful.

Smart women manage these challenges for success by following these 6 strategies for success:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Learn to separate small irritants from major issues or challenges. Don’t allow people to “push your buttons”. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to manage your emotions and not allow them to overcome your reactions and interactions. Self-care means that we let go of fallout from meaningless interactions that cause us to doubt ourselves

  1. Develop self-awareness.

Learn to look at yourself objectively. That means we have to become aware of our emotions, self-talk, and who we are from another ‘s perspective. Being self-aware allows you to think about the situation from a clear head. In addition, understanding who you are in these situations provides an opportunity to practice building your Emotional Quotient (EQ). Successful leaders practice high EQ in their interactions. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have emotions. It means you recognize the emotions and then make a clear decision about how you want to respond for your best health.

  1. Be aware of others’ opinions.

Remember that the need for approval can derail your success. You need to be aware of other’s perceptions in order to hone your personal brand and sharpen your emotional quotient. Separate other’s opinions about you from their perception of you. It doesn’t matter if you think their perception of you is false, it is their perception.

  1. Find tools and approaches that work for you.

Clean questions “What do I want?” “What do I know?” “What do I need to learn?’ These questions offer you a chance to explore the situation from a clear perspective. Each challenge that you face will present opportunities for you to grow and find the right path to your success.

  1. Keep focused.

Frustrations, difficult people, and disappointing setbacks can wreak havoc with our sense of self and confidence. Don’t allow others to pull you off your course. Once you have determined where you want to grow, stay focused on your plan. Consequently, like any good hike there are obstacles and barriers that may attempt to block your way. When you stay focused with a clear mind and heart you can overcome them.

  1. Stay flexible.

Others’ doubts and options are just that, their doubts and their opinions. Deborah Brown stated, “Not everyone will understand what you want to accomplish in your career. Maybe you want a new job but the people in your life tell you to forget about it and just be happy where you are. Or, you want a new career, but you are told it doesn’t make sense or you won’t make enough money.”

Some roadblocks may be insurmountable. However, that doesn’t mean that you give up your goals. You may need to adjust them and revise them as life happens.

Each time you meet a roadblock ask yourself the clean question: “How does this alter my original plan?” It may simply mean you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a result, strategically determine what change you need to make to create the best opportunity for your dreams and aspirations.

Actually, our dreams or goals often change based on new information. New experiences, relationships, or life events may alter what we think and feel about our career growth. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook stated in her book, Option B, after the death of her husband: “Option A is not available so let’s kick the heck out of Option B.” Option B is what you determine is best for you after Option A doesn’t work out. Bouncing back from seeming failure can help you be successful.

Remember that blaming others or frustrating doesn’t help you; it only hinders your clear thinking about next steps after something thwarts your well-planned progress. Keep yourself on the path by following the six strategies outline

Remember to relax, take a deep breath, and ask yourself those clean questions to determine what Option B means to you. You may just find out that Option B was the best path after all.

Pat Magerkurth is a life/business coach who studied women in the workplace. Her extensive experience business can help you determine your best strategy for career growth. Contact her at for a free consultation to determine if working together will help you move forward build a plan for your career growth.

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6 Ways To Bounce Back From Failure (That Help You Build Resiliency)

You’ve got this.

There are lots of ways to bounce back from failure, and they all help you with building resilience. Everyone defines failure differently and most people will say that they learn more from their failures than their successes. Life’s most important lessons are hidden in failure, but it takes courage to examine the situation, uncover the lessons, and learn how to deal with failure productively.

When we fail at something our self-confidence and enthusiasm may be crushed by the experience. Each time we examine the situation, we may be able to see different aspects of the failure that deliver information to inform and build resilience. The following five steps give you a simple process to follow for building resiliency each time you feel that you failed.

Failures come in all shapes and sizes. Personal failures include divorce, relationship problems, loss of friendship, or simple mistakes made in haste or anger. Professional failures include the loss of a job such as being laid off or fired. Another failure may be a lost promotion, loss of job satisfaction, or loss of expectations for your career. The greatest teachers are big failures.

Resilience is the capacity to experience loss, failure, and disappointment and incorporate the experience as a lesson worthy of your attention. When you tap into your well of resilience you are able to see the failure as a part of your journey, not the end of the game. Each time you incorporate the five lessons below you will build a well of resilience that you can tap into whenever you feel that you failed.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” —  Chris Peterson

So if you’re feeling down because of a recent failure, here are 6 ways you can use it to bounce back and be better than ever:

  1. Failure is the greatest teacher.

Failure is the perception that you didn’t do something right and that the loss is your fault. How you perceive an experience determines whether you see it as a failure or as a difficult situation that needs review and attention. An experience that you define, as a failure may simply be a set of circumstances aligned against you.

Or it may be that you didn’t assess the situation realistically and failure was inevitable. The only way to determine the part you played in the experience is to follow these steps and assess what you could have done differently. Therein lies the lesson. The only thing you can control is yourself.

  1. Take time to process your emotions and disappointment.

Failure brings with it a complex set of emotions and self blame. In addition, you may be angry at the situation or person that you perceive let you down or caused the failure. It is okay to feel mad, sad, disappointed, frustrated, confused, and let down.

Take the time through journaling or reflection to process the emotions. You can cry, scream into a pillow, or stomp your feet. But be sure to use this time to process your emotions, not to strike out at those you perceive have let you down or caused you to fail

The first step is recognizing the emotions and then making a clear and thoughtful decision about any actions that you take regarding the situation. For example, if you were fired, it is best not to burn any bridges by striking out or saying things that will make a difficult situation worse. Some ways to process your emotions are to write letters you never send or journal about the emotions and place them in the context of the situation.

  1. Take a deep dive to understand the facts.

The facts of the experience are the events without any emotional content. After you have processed your emotions (this may take several days or even months), breathe deeply and view the facts of the experience. Write down what happened without any emotional bias.

Recognize your actions within the situation without blame or anger to help inform future situations. The old saying that “wherever you go, there you are,” is true. People learn behaviors, beliefs, and strategies for handling failure from childhood experiences. Developing resilience requires you to understand how you react to failures.

It also requires you to take a realistic assessment of your part in the failure. What could you have done differently to generate a different outcome? If you determine that there was nothing you could have done differently, then you may simply be a victim or circumstance.

However, most failures include a turning point where a different choice on your part, may have created a different outcome. The only way to tell is to take an objective look at your experience and then learn.

  1. Incorporate what you learn into your plans.

Each time you process your experiences; you will learn that you could have generated a different outcome with a different choice. Each day is made up of a series of choices. Those choices span from what you eat for breakfast to how you behave in relationships.

Little choices can have big consequences. Did you choose to react angrily or to ignore warning signs that pointed to failure? Self-awareness and the capacity to behave based on that awareness is the cornerstone of resilience.

When you understand the facts of a failure and incorporate the lessons into your sense of self, you can make a different choice the next time. However, some people go from failure to failure without any self-awareness and never understand why their outcomes are always the same. Resiliency is the capacity to gain knowledge and self-awareness and then incorporate those lessons into our life.

  1. Get back up.

When you fail, it feels like you have fallen down in life. Getting back up means giving yourself permission to restart your life using the lessons learned from the experience. It may mean starting to look for another job, starting to find another relationship, or simply getting back out into the world with friends and family.

Some people need to remove themselves from the world to process lessons one through four. Eventually, you need to shake off your disappointment and continue to experience life. Severe trauma can have a deep impact.

If your failure is from a traumatic experience, then you may need to see a counselor to process numbers one through four. It may be that you need to “fake it to make it” in order to continue with life while processing the failure. Only you can determine what you need. The decision to see a coach or counselor doesn’t signal another failure. It means you have the courage to face the situation and work through it to a successful outcome.

  1. Never give up.

Persistence is the best predictor for success. Grit is one of the biggest predictors for success. Tanner Christensen identified four components for developing grit:

  • Learn as you go and get feedback from step three. Feedback from peers and supervisors will help you develop grit or resilience.
  • Find something that you can be passionate about and use that as a motivating force. Find something that you can dig into to gain a greater understanding.
  • Discover a way to develop hope out of the examination process. Failure is not a permanent state of affairs. If you feel you are failing all the time and can’t find hope, get help from a coach or counselor.
  • Success takes time. Give yourself the time to process the experience and develop a plan for your success.

Failure is inevitable. Everyone experiences loss, disappointment, and failure. Resiliency allows you to bounce back from failure and build for a successful future. Your choices and actions determine your success. If you cannot figure out why you keep failing, find a professional who can give you an objective perspective. Remember that failure is not permanent, but is an experience that you can weave into the tapestry of your life.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

Pat Magerkurth is a life/business coach who studied women in the workplace. Her extensive experience developing resilience and speaking out can help you overcome failure. Contact her at for a free consultation to determine if working together will help you move forward to find the lessons in failure.

3 Common Workplace Challenges Women Face When Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Successfully navigating 3 common workplace challenges women face when climbing the corporate ladder delivers workplace success. Everyone faces challenges at work, but for women the challenges may be different. Oftentimes women may not speak up in meetings with their ideas. Sometimes others in the room coopt a woman’s idea as their own and take credit for it. Understanding the importance of everyone’s input creates an atmosphere of collaboration not competition. Women may feel that they need to recover their voice in order to succeed. And women often struggle with the fact that women want to be nice and don’t assert ourselves so challenges when climbing the corporate ladder present obstacles to success. Our mothers often taught us to defer and deflect rather than take credit for our contribution. These three strategies will help you face these common workplace challenges and navigate the corporate environment. 

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

  1. Finding your voice

Corporate cultures often suppress women’s voices. As a result women may leave their true passions unspoken. Bringing your whole self to work helps you find your voice. Because women may not know their own voice, they fear speaking out at work.

Speaking up and asking for what you want takes courage, and it usually pays off. Many women don’t speak up and ask for the promotion or plum assignment because they fear rejection or don’t show the requisite self-confidence in their skills. Getting the job requires you to understand the situation and prepare to succeed.  Finding your voice is the first step towards getting and keeping a seat at the table.

These Four tips will help you find your voice:

  • Be prepared and know what you want to accomplish.  Prepare with reasons why you are right for the assignment or project.  Ask for the promotion or assignment from a place of preparedness.
  • Increase your self-confidence. Take a self-assessment and understand the value you bring to the table. Find a mentor who can help you determine your worth and articulate how those benefits relate to what you are asking for. “Believe in yourself. If you don’t know what value you bring to the table, no one else will.”
  • Make contributions with purpose and an understanding of what’s needed to succeed.
  • Come to the table with an opinion or option that you can back up with data and show that you did your homework.

Make your voice Heard

  1.     Being Heard

Once you have found your voice it may feel difficult to be heard. Research has shown that men are more confident while women are more competent. Speaking with self-confidence helps ensure others hear you. These 6 tips from Shelley Zalis, at Forbes will help you be heard:

  • Give credit where credit is due. Women in the Obama administration used a technique they called amplification. They recognized each other openly for their achievements, accomplishments, and ideas. When a colleague has a good idea, compliment her on it to discourage men from taking credit for her idea.
  • Open the floor to another woman. After making your point, direct your attention to a female coworker and ask her if she has any additional thoughts. Women are often unable to break into the conversation as men dominate the floor. This strategic approach increases the chance that others hear you.
  • Practice speaking up whenever you can. Even when it is a small internal meeting, use that opportunity to practice your skills. The more often you speak up the easier it becomes enabling others to hear you.
  • Start with a positive, not a negative. Review your unconscious speaking habits and be sure to use forceful or powerful language. When we worry about what others will think, we may speak hesitantly of downplay our own ideas or input.
  • Be mindful of your tone. Practice a strong tone of voice. Avoid raising your voice at the end of a sentence, which can indicate a question. Speak with a steady even tone. Practice with a trusted friend or record yourself to identify any unconscious habits or tone of voice issues.
  • Stand on your own two feet. Stand up for yourself. Mentors and colleagues are great, but it is critical that you are accountable for your own ideas, work, and input.

Four Strategies Using Resilience to Recover Your Voice

  1.     Recovering Your Voice

Resilience helps you find your voice. Because it acts like a muscle, the more resilient you become the stronger it grows. Life always deals out setbacks and challenges. Self-control and resilience delivers greater strength for finding and expressing your voice.

Resilience exemplifies the capacity to get back up, brush yourself off, and jump back in. These three tips help you recognize, develop, and maintain a resilient life force.

  • It isn’t personal. Keep reminding yourself that the only person you can control is you. Check out your feelings and remind yourself that it isn’t all about you. Most people come into a situation with their own motives and filters. Distancing yourself allows you to see the situation more clearly without the emotions. 
  • Be aware of your filters. Each person views the world through a set of filters that includes their sex, family background, and basic personality traits. As a result your filters mix with life situations and these factors color the way we react and view situations. Consequently, self-awareness underpins resilience.
  • Taking a strategic approach to situations means that you step back and review the issues without emotion. Consequently, you can then make a clear decision about how you want to respond. You decide how you want others to view you. As a result you better understand your situation and the filters that color your perspective on these common workplace challenges.
  • This probably feels unnatural at first, but with practice your resilient approach grows stronger. Resilience takes practice and work to develop and maintain. In the light of setbacks review what happened and assess your part in the situation. Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently to foster a different outcome?” Be objective, try to remove your emotions, and then make a decision to try a different approach the next time. Use your emotions as a way to gage the situation and make a decision about how you want to respond.

Most of all value yourself. Self-love fosters finding your voice, being heard, and developing resilience. As a result, self care says, “I value myself and my well-being.” And remember no one is responsible for you, but you. Especially, list three things you want to say or want others to hear. And list ways you can be more resilient and less reactive.

“Women are still in emotional bondage as long as we need to worry that we might have to make a choice between being heard and being loved.” Marianne Williamson

Understanding these three common workplace challenges women face while climbing the corporate ladder gives you great insight into why you may feel stuck. It highlights the areas you can focus on to grow in your career. If you work these three strategies and still find it frustrating or challenging, coaching can help. Please reach out, if I can help you find your best path forward.

Pat Magerkurth is a life/business coach who studied women in the workplace. Her extensive experience developing resilience and speaking out can help you find your voice and be heard. Contact her at for a free consultation.


Life Lessons for Navigating Sexual Tensions at Work & Defining Sexual Misconduct

Life lessons for navigating sexual tensions at work and defining sexual misconduct may help you recognize and address difficult situations. Recently, Billy Bush of the infamous Access Hollywood tape fame while a guest on Steven Colbert stated, “it is time to further the conversation”. He went on to clarify that it’s time to discuss how we raise boys in our culture. Conversely, women need to support each other in our efforts to speak up and address sexual misconduct.

In a recent CNN article Anna Navarro, a Republican detailed all of the powerful men accused and subsequently destroyed by sexual misconduct allegations. She stated, “Changing the culture means this is not about profession or creed or color or sexual orientation or partisan affiliation. Sexual harassment is not about Hollywood versus Washington. It is not about Right and Left. It is about right and wrong. America, letting politicians get away with it, is simply wrong.”

In addition, Sheryl Sandberg posted a cautionary note on her Facebook Page. She worried that the current flood of accusations could limit women’s opportunities at work. She also stated, “Sexual harassment has been tolerated for far too long in the halls of government and companies large and small. For the first time in my professional life, it feels like people are finally prepared to hold perpetrators responsible. I’m cheering.”

Recently, the “MeToo” Movement and the reckoning of powerful men for sexual misconduct, brings to light a situation that has existed far too long. Men can be sexually aggressive and inappropriate. Not all men are sexual predators, but the combination of power and sexual aggression can create problems.

This article attempts to put the various situations in perspective. It also addresses strategies to help address sexual misconduct at work. Do women have any responsibility in these situations?

Definitions Help Put Sexual Misconduct In Perspective

The definitions are not always clear under the law. Not all incidents of sexual misconduct are equal. Some misconduct is egregious, while some actions constitute sexual innuendo or foolishness. Specific crimes involving sex include Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Abuse. All of these contain specific definitions within the criminal code. Sexual tensions that go unaddressed may create a difficult situation in the workplace.

Sexual Harassment Creates a Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment prevents women from thriving at work. According to the allegations of eight women, Charlie Rose created a hostile work environment with unwanted sexual advances and actions. Women felt they needed to acquiesce and tolerate his sexual advances in order to be part of the team. When women reported the actions to his Executive Producer, Yvette Vega she protected him by saying, “That’s just Charlie being Charlie.” Now that the allegations are out in the open she regrets her protective behavior. She was quoted in the Washington Post, “I should have stood up for them,” said Vega, 52, who has worked with Rose since the show was created in 1991. “I failed. It is crushing. I deeply regret not helping them.”

Many sexual harassment situations go unaddressed. Women either leave or they continue to work at the company while feeling violated. Some simply adjust their behavior and avoid contact or situations where they are alone with the perpetrator.

This solution is unacceptable, because the perpetrator created a situation where the woman feels that she must stay in that situation to keep her job. Sexual Harassment is predicated upon a power dynamic. The perpetrator with power and influence  relegates the victim to either tolerating the behavior or leaving the job.

Two Types of Sexual Harassment Situations

The Department of Labor defines two types of Sexual Harassment situations.
1. Quid Pro Quo Harassment i.e. “This for That” – In this situation harassment results in a specific employment decision based upon the employee’s acceptance or rejection of unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. In this situation a supervisor will either deny a promotion to an employee or require an employee to participate as a condition of their employment. In addition, preferential treatment based on sexually cooperative employees is harassment.
2. Hostile Work Environment Harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct of supervisors, coworkers, customers, or anyone else the employee must be in contact with on the job creates an atmosphere that is either intimidating or offensive. Examples may include discussing sexual activities, telling off-color jokes about race, sex, disabilities, etc., unnecessary touching, or commenting on physical attributes.

In order to violate the law the following conditions must be met:
It must be unwelcome, subjectively abusive to the person, objectively severe and pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive. Consideration is paid to the frequency and severity of the conduct. Additionally, the conduct must be either physically threatening or humiliating and not a mere offensive utterance. It must effect the employee’s psychological well-being and interfere with work performance. Finally, was the harasser in a superior position of power over the employee? “Hostile work environment cases are often difficult to recognize, because the particular facts of each situation determine whether offensive conduct has crossed the line from “ordinary tribulations of the workplace, such as the sporadic use of abusive language . . . and occasional teasing, to unlawful harassment.”

Sexual Assault Involves Unwanted Physical Conduct

According to the Department of Justice definition: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape”

Each State has its own laws on the books detailing the legal definitions of Sexual Assault. Force doesn’t always include threatening a woman’s physical safety. It may include emotional coercion or manipulation. A perpetrator may threaten to hurt the victim’s family or other intimidation tactics. Unfortunately, someone known to the victim commits 7 out of 10 sexual assaults.

Sexual Abuse is a Sexual Act by a Parent, Guardian, Relative, or Acquaintance of a Minor

According to Merriam Webster’s law dictionary: Sexual abuse is “the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion; and/or the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity.” Often sexual abuse occurs with ongoing incidents over a period of time.

The statistics on sexual abuse point to a disturbing undercurrent of sexual activities to abuse children. Specifically, a 2012 report found that 26% of sexual abuse victims were between 12 and 14 years of age and 34% were under 9 years of age. Approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the US were victims of sexual assault. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18, and 82% of all juvenile victims are female. It is particularly disconcerting when you consider that only 30% of sexual abuse victims report the crime.

The Umbrella Of Sexual Misconduct Covers Many Interactions

The definitions above constitute illegal actions. But some actions are less intrusive or not clearly defined, such as an occasional off color joke, or the silly gesture that goes too far. What are women’s responsibilities in the light of the definitions and the obvious sexual tensions in the workplace? These five ideas provide ideas for women to navigate workplace sexual tensions and create a safe working environment.

Strategies for Addressing the Sexual Tensions & Potential Misconduct

Find a guy at work sexually attractive? Be careful! It isn’t fair for a woman to behave provocatively at work and come-on to a coworker. Be aware, office romances can go bad very quickly. If you determine that the relationship is worth pursuing, find another job. Be out in the open with your intentions and the status of the relationship. If the relationship goes south, either of you might paint the circumstances in a different light creating a difficult situation.

Don’t behave in a flirtatious manner at work. Keep your interactions professional, not provocative. If tempted to use your sexuality to manipulate the situation, assess your own motivations. Be cordial not sexy. Make a conscious, strategic decision about how you want to be perceived at work. Your demeanor and clothing can send out mixed messages. It is important to be clear about your purpose at work. If a superior wants to have a meeting in his hotel room, suggest another venue.

If a coworker makes unwanted sexual advances, do the following. Immediately state your boundary. That means simply say , “I am not interested, please do not go any further or do that again” or say “I am offended by that comment, please don’t say anything of that nature again.” Be cordial and friendly, but emphatic.

Document the action with the date, time, place, and exact events without any embellishment. If the action is egregious, touching or forceful, immediately document it and call Human Resources. Some actions may be unintentional and may simply need you to set a clear boundary. Others may need intervention by the professionals in Human Resources. The worst nightmare for HR professionals is a sexual predator who is allowed to run amok within an organization. This puts the organization at financial risk.

Reread the definitions above. Remember you may also fall under scrutiny, if you allow the activity to continue. In addition to protecting yourself, sharing knowledge protects other women from experiencing harassment or assault.

Keep it light, and don’t look for predators or perverts. Men are often trying to be friendly and may not be savvy or aware that they are being offensive. If you state your boundary in a friendly, non-confrontational manner they will probably apologize and not repeat the offensive behavior. You will be able to tell from their response if their remorse or embarrassment is real.

It is time for us to be clear about simple inappropriate gestures or actions versus those of serial sexual predators. Well-intentioned men may act in ways that are outside of their values or your preferences. If they do not respond to a simple “Hey, I don’t like that”, then they are not well intentioned. It is not appropriate to get mad, tell your friends, and then determine that you were abused, assaulted, or harassed. The outcome will not be that you are vindicated because your actions and demeanor will also be under scrutiny. If you get mad, or feel uncomfortable let that person know.

Be aware, be careful, and be willing to speak your mind immediately. If a man places his hand on your body, and you are uncomfortable, say something. If someone says something that offends you, speak up. Letting things fester helps neither you nor the other person. They need to know they behaved in an offensive manner. Finally, don’t “cry wolf” don’t blow a small incident out of proportion. Women who have truly been assaulted, abused, or harassed need our support, not false accusations.

Let’s be real, we all make mistakes or do inappropriate things. It is now our responsibility to speak up when abused, assaulted, or harassed. Personal accountability requires us to express our displeasure with the actions. Use your best resource, your clear voice stating a specific boundary. Silence creates an environment conducive to inappropriate sexual actions or tensions.

Coaching can help you find your voice and learn how to speak up. Pat Magerkurth is a coach with over 30 years experience navigating the workplace. She can help you understand and navigate workplace challenges. Contact her at

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