Compromising On the Road to My Horizon

“There’s been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon,
but I’m gonna be where the lights are shining on me
– “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Larry Weiss, popularized by Glen Campbell

This song is on my iPod, thanks to Eric. During a recent workout, I got to thinking about what Glen meant by “compromising” and what sort of compromises I might have made on the road to where the sky has met the earth in my life.

The  word “compromise” has many different meanings. To compromise is to reach an agreement, find a middle way between two extremes, or expose or make liable to danger, suspicion or disrepute. I think Glen had the following definition in mind: a concession to something derogatory or objectionable;  a compromise of principles.

We have all made compromises in our life. It is a part of growing up to make concessions, to choose the least objectionable path, to focus on the positive and ignore the negative.  If you’re lucky and the road is smooth, you won’t have to give up too much of yourself to get where you want to be – whether it’s Broadway or the corner office.

So what concessions have I made in my life, prejudicial or otherwise?

Love: I have rarely compromised in the area of love, which I would define as dating, or even marrying, someone for reasons other than a sincere desire to be with that person. A classic example of compromise would be choosing a husband based on his perceived ability to keep you in the style to which you have become accustomed rather than feelings of romantic love. I never felt the need to let economics play a role in choosing who to date.

Education: Not from my perspective. I went to one of the best undergraduate schools in Minnesota and the only law school in the community where I lived at the time. From my perspective, it would have been a compromise of my values to insist on going to a top tier law school at the expense of spending time with my family.

Work: Often. In private practice, I did not have a proper work-life balance and sacrificed time with my family to keep the partners and clients happy.  Chasing billable hours can also feel like trading your soul for money, but I learned how to provide value for dollar and always ensured the bill reflected the value provided.  As an in-house attorney, I very rarely feel the need to compromise.

Family: It depends. I have no regrets about choosing to have a child or choosing to have only one child. This is an intimate decision that is best worked out between the parents. I had to compromise though on where we lived when raising our family, which influenced how much time I could spend with my parents and siblings. Go hug your mother now.

Fun: Almost never. I have the pictures to prove it. I tend to lose all perspective on what is the right way to behave when there is wine and dancing. It’s just how we Brom girls roll.

Politics: Not intentionally. I have always tried to pick the candidate who can do the best job, and not the one who will further my own interest.  My Dad was a Democrat. We watched the 1968 election returns hoping Herbert Humphrey would make us Minnesotans proud. My mother was a Republican. She probably voted for Nixon in 1968, but I didn’t figure that out until I was in my 20’s.  In the past, I liked some of what I heard in both parties and have voted for both Democrats and Republican for President.   These days I am a registered Democrat and support Democratic candidates.

What compromises have you made on the road to your horizon?

Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings (Part Two): The Millennials

My posts these days are about giving career advice to twenty-somethings, mainly because my daughter is a twenty-something. She is a card-carrying member of the millennial generation.  According to the Pew Research Center (click the image below to read their report), my daughter and the other 77  million people in this age group share the following characteristics:

They use technology differently. They use their cell phones as computers and their computers like televisions. Social networking isn’t something they do, it’s a part of who they are.  The live on-line and connected to their friends and family.  Their cell phones are an appendage and always close by.

They value education. Millennials are on track to become the most-educated generation in our nation’s history. They are choosing college over military service.  College applications the last few years have skyrocketed and applicants faced stiff competition from their peers.

They are optimistic about their economic futures. Even though they are suffering in the recession and have one of the highest unemployment rates in decades for their age group, they believe they will eventually meet their long-term financial goals.

They value their relationships with their parents. They don’t mind having to live with their parents, because they get along well with them. They are also old-fashioned in how they think about parenthood and marriage, even though they were more likely to have been raised in single-parent households and have children out of wedlock.

They are more tolerant of diversity. They were raised in a multi-cultural world and tend not to think of others as being black or white or straight or gay. They don’t like to put labels on themselves or others. They are the only generation that favors the legalization of gay marriage.

They see their bodies as a canvas, and tattoos and body-piercings are how they paint. Millennials are more likely to have a tattoo, and if they have a tattoo, they are more likely to have more than one.  They are also more likely to have a body piecing in a place other than an ear lobe, particularly among their women.

Their attitudes and behaviors toward work are not gender-based.  Males and females of this generation want the same thing.  There is not a huge disparity in how men and women think about their careers and what they want to get out of life.  In fact, millennial women are now more likely than to have a college degree than millennial men.

These characteristics impact twenty-somethings’ views about how they work, where they work, who they work for, and what they want out of life.  They are important things to keep in mind if you want to provide them advice they can use and will value.

Career Advice for Twenty-Somethings: The Introduction

My daughter turned 20 this month. She’s a smart, hard-working, focused college student, a few years removed from starting her career. It occurs to me that she and her friends could benefit from what I have learned in my thirty-six years as a working woman.

As she is my daughter, I can’t say these things to her directly. The advice would get caught up in the “If your mom is telling you to do something, then she must be wrong” filter. I am not sure why this filter exists in every teenage girl and twenty-something woman who is fortunate enough to have her mother in her life at that age. It just does and there is nothing we can do about it.

Having had my own mother in my life until my mid-forties, I know this filter often dissipates as you get older, or get married, or have children, or just live and experience a little more. That’s when you start to realize there is some benefit to listening to someone who knows you, wants only the best for you and loves you unconditionally. I’ve sensed the early stages of this melting resistance to parental advice already in my own daughter.

According to my most recent Social Security Statement, I have been working since 1975, when I had earnings of $453.  In the 36 years since then,  I have worked as a bus girl, waitress, car hop/dishwasher, deli/bakery clerk, door-to-door salesman, retail clerk, secretary, Naval officer, program analyst, and attorney.  According to Social Security, my lifetime earnings have exceeded $1.8 million. Believe me when I say I earned every penny.

So my next few posts (until I run out of things to say, that is) will focus on the things that I have learned while working. My goal is to pass on some useful information to my daughter and her friends, both male and female. As I will discuss in my next post, the young men and women of the millennial generation, all 50 million of them, tend to want the same things out of life.  The attitudes of men and women of this age toward work and careers are more alike than they are different.

My daughter may not read these posts now, or she may read them and the advice may get caught up in the “she must be wrong” filter.  But everything on the internet lives on forever and can never be taken back (another future topic), so I am confident that she will read these posts someday, later if not sooner, and that my advice will not go unheeded and will help her in the future.

#You Know You’re Talking to a Lawyer When . . .

Another faux twitter post:

  1. You are telling an amusing story and he starts asking questions like you are a trial witness.
  2. She uses the word “tort” in a sentence, and is not ordering dessert.
  3. During a casual conversation, he can compose a grammatically correct paragraph that has more than three complete sentences.
  4. She uses the word “heretofore” in a sentence, and is not making a joke.
  5. He is taking notes during your conversation.
  6. She monitors the amount of time she spends talking to you.
  7. He asks for your opinion on a current event topic and then proceeds to tell you why you are wrong.
  8. She refers to you as an attractive nuisance.
  9. He can tell you the risk of being injured from (a) sleeping on the top bunk, (b) using a propane heater, (c) riding in the back of a pick-up truck, (d) driving a car on the Northway, or (e)  riding an ATV.
  10. She tries to defend the Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.