Leadership: When you say ‘yes’ to 1 thing, you say ‘no’ to another


Kathie Rotz

One hundred years ago (on Aug. 18, 1920), the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and women were given the right to vote.

In 1942, women were allowed to join the military.

In 1948, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed into law, allowing women to serve as full members of any military branch.

In 1957, the Civil Rights Act gave women the right to serve on federal juries.

The opportunities for women have expanded greatly in the past century. Now that we legally have these opportunities, it is our responsibility to choose wisely.

When we say “yes” to one thing, we also say “no” to another.

Twenty-seven years ago, I said “yes” to being a mom. Three weeks after my son was born, I said “yes” to another semester of college. Two years after that, I said “yes” to a full-time corporate job. One year later, I said “yes” to being a mom again and welcomed a second son into our family.

Looking back on these major family decisions, I do not remember thinking there was an option to say anything but “yes.” I quickly learned the financial responsibility that I had as a parent. I needed to finish my degree so that I could get a well-paying job that was in my strength-zone so that I could contribute toward the household.

During this time of increased responsibilities, my husband and I arranged our schedules to accommodate our family’s needs. This would be a juggling act that would continue for the next 20 years as our kids chose different activities to participate in.

I would attend one child’s event while my husband attended another child’s event. Sometimes, we even needed to call in a friend or grandparent from afar to pitch in with the third child’s event.

We also found a trusted friend to care for our children. We found someone to clean our house. We found restaurants to cook our meals some nights. We partnered with other people who were excited to share their strengths with us.

During this time of life in saying “yes,” I also said “no.” I missed out on some of the kids’ events. I said “no” to social life, sleep and time with my family.

Is this OK? I am fine with a reduced social life. I am not fine with little sleep. As for decreased time with my family, I did not think I should have been OK with this until I realized what my strengths are in life. This is something I struggled with for many years as my children grew.

I am a do-er — someone who likes to make things happen. I am strong at focusing on a project and achieving the end goal. I enjoy checking off tasks from my daily list, and I enjoy working. I am a better working mom.

The amazing caregiver we chose, who the kids affectionately called, “Faithy,” had a connection with the young children. She understood them and spoke their language. She created adventures and projects that the kids were excited about.

“Faithy’s” kitchen table would transform into a shaving cream finger-painting station. (I would have never thought of or allowed a “shaving cream day” in my home.)

When our second son was born, I kept our older son home, thinking he would enjoy time with me and his little brother. After two days, he begged to go back to his work at “Faithy’s” house. She thanked me for allowing her to watch my kids.

I know how to care for my kids, just like I know how to clean and cook. However, there are not enough minutes in a day or energy in my body to do it all. Could there be someone that could do it just as well or better than me? Could we connect and partner with others to make all of our lives healthier and happier?

When I understood my limits and that being superwoman is not a bragging right, that is when I chose to own what life has given me.

Know your strengths, choose wisely, say “yes” and “no” with no regrets.

Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant and John Maxwell Certified Speaker, Trainer and Coach with Unity Consulting in Dubuque.

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