Discover more from A Cup of Ambition
I want to start with some exciting news. I am running a subscriber giveaway special! I remain so appreciative of the support that I’ve received from all of you. I appreciate the fact that you read this newsletter, I appreciate when you choose to forward or share it with other people in your life, and I especially appreciate those of you who have invested in a paid subscription. I am truly in awe of this amazing community.
Very early on in the creation of this newsletter, I was lucky enough to participate in a writer’s group through Substack, through which I met some really incredible people. We still meet regularly to discuss our writing, and serve to motivate and inspire each other.
Sarah Miller, who writes Can We Read? has been a particular source of friendship and support for me in my writing journey. And so I am honored to host a giveaway in which I will pay for an annual subscription to her newsletter for two lucky A Cup of Ambition subscribers at the annual or founding level. All current subscribers and anyone who subscribes by September 2 will be entered into a raffle, and I will choose two lucky winners on September 3.
Even if you don’t choose to participate, I still encourage you to sign up for Sarah’s thoughtful, inspiring, and beautifully-written newsletter about children’s books and building a culture of literacy in your home. If you want to learn more about her, here’s a link to an interview I did with her earlier this year.
What comes after ambition? (Elle)
Ambition is a loaded word—that’s part of why I chose it for the title of this newsletter. The author of this article observes that many women in her life have taken a step back, left the workplace altogether, or have otherwise lost their ambition since the start of the pandemic. In my experience as an executive coach, I rarely see people abandon their ambition, but I do see some who are re-evaluating their careers to better align their professional work with their values. Regardless, I strongly agree that:
“For ambition to be sustainable, it has to be personal and complex, not just about rising through the ranks [. . .] It’s relocating those ambitions beyond the traditional markers of money, title, and professional recognition. Ambition does not have to be limited to a quest for power at the expense of yourself and others. It can also be a drive for a more just world, a healthier self, a stronger community.”
Like many working moms, I love working from home and would never want to return to pre-pandemic office life. However, the potential downsides are very real. I could have pulled several excerpts from this really outstanding piece, but I’ll highlight these two:
“But at this point, the infrastructure of care has been crumbling for decades, and, in many places, has been completely wiped out by the pandemic. Most corners of society are still stubbornly organized as if every family includes a person who attends to the needs of the family full time. For as much as we ostensibly venerate equitable partnership, working mothers, and parents in general, society is incredibly hostile to the cultivation of all of the above.
Instead of reengineering societal rhythms and reimagining our care systems in the wake of the pandemic, we have done what we have done for the past 40 years: turned to individual families and private enterprise to solve the problem for themselves. Within this scenario, flexible work feels less like a perk and more like an incredibly depressing concession—the only way for companies to try to hang on to their female employees.”
I will admit, I’ve found the discourse around teacher shortages to be a bit chaotic—The Washington Post says it’s reached “catastrophic” proportions, while The Economist says the claims are overhyped. I appreciated this well-reported article that explores the (very limited) data we have.
Two things seem clear: 1. Teachers are reporting a record-high level of dissatisfaction in their jobs and 2. Low-income schools are having a particularly difficult time attracting and retaining teachers—as they always have—and our most vulnerable kids are the ones suffering the greatest.
Although my kids are only 7 and 4, I will admit that I lose sleep about how I will one day parent tweens and teens in the age of ubiquitous social media. I appreciate that this op-ed provides tangible policy-level solutions for how better protect kids on the internet. Specifically, the author suggests:
“By raising the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’s minimum age from 13 to 18 (with an option for parents to verifiably approve an exemption for their kids as the law already permits), and by providing for effective age verification and meaningful penalties for the platforms, Congress could offer parents a powerful tool to push back against the pressure to use social media.”
Stop undervaluing exceptional women (Harvard Business Review)
Research has shown that companies tend to assume that highly qualified men are more likely to leave organizations than highly qualified women. This is rooted in the belief that men care more about their individual advancement and thus will take new opportunities elsewhere, while women are invested in their relationships at work and will therefore remain loyal to their existing organization. All of this results in male employees receiving retention packages, preemptive promotions, and bonuses, which exacerbates the gender wage gap.
“How was school today?!”
Does this conversation sound familiar??
Here are some suggestions for low-key ways to connect with kids:
Go for a walk or bike ride
Set out art “invitations”. These don’t have to be overly elaborate, but talking about what they’re making can open the door into a larger conversation about what’s on their mind.
Cook dinner together. If that creates too much chaos in the kitchen, consider packing school lunch together.
Get out playdoh or another sensory activity.
Play a board game.
The beginning of the school year always feels like more of a fresh start to me than the beginning of the calendar year. I’m sure this is partially because I’ve spent most of my career in higher education, but there’s something about the back-to-school season that energizes and re-centers me.
I’ve shared earlier that this summer felt hectic. Managing ever-changing childcare logistics, working from home with kids around, and a full calendar has felt overwhelming and—frankly—not very fun.
In an effort to recalibrate, I’m going to take the first two days of this new school year off. With my kids at school, I’m hoping to clear my calendar and set aside some time to decompress (day 1) and goal-set (day 2).
I’ll be thinking about the following questions:
Where am I spending my energy? Which of these activities and relationships fulfill me and which deplete me?
How can I better communicate what I need?
What will be different this time next year?
I want to cover what’s important to YOU. I welcome reader input in deciding what and who to write about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “newsletter idea” in the subject.