Lessons on Living Up to Your Potential

By Dori Meinert Jun 17, 2015


What working mother can’t relate? In her latest book, Mika Brzezinski describes how she arrived home after an exhausting workweek and was greeted by her teenage daughter screaming “I hate you!”

It was a wake-up call. At the time, things were going so well career-wise.

In addition to her job as co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” television show, Brzezinski had spent night after night promoting her earlier book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth (Weinstein Books, 2010), in which she instructs women on how to recognize their value at work and get the compensation they deserve.

But her daughter’s angry tirade made her realize that women need to know more than their professional value—they need to know their inner value as well. That’s the idea behind her new book, Grow Your Value: Living and Working to Your Full Potential (Weinstein Books, 2015).

Brzezinski will share insights from the book when she speaks June 30 at the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas.

In Grow Your Value, she recalls moderating a panel for the White House Summit on Working Families in 2014. She asked Gloria Steinem, Nancy Pelosi and other panelists how their successful careers affected their personal lives. Her question was met with an awkward silence.

“The takeaway for me was that successful women evidently felt too insecure and vulnerable to talk about how work had influenced their relationships and their sense of worth in their whole lives. In the end, they were not prepared to go on the record about it,” she writes in the book.

Women need to determine how they define success, professionally and personally, and then pursue it, Brzezinski says. She bares her own personal struggle, including seeking family counseling.

“The big picture is about finding professional success without losing sight of everything that makes life worthwhile.”

Here are samples of the advice she dispenses in Grow Your Value:

People-pleasing is poison. “When I am overscheduled and questioning my own worth as a professional—or as a wife and mother—I scramble around, trying to please everyone without taking care of myself. It is extremely destructive and pleases no one, least of all me.”

Be honest with yourself and others. To be a truly successful person, she writes, “you need to sustain your connection to your loved ones. … To accomplish this, above all else, you must be honest about what fulfills you as an individual.”

Feed your heart, mind and spirit. “When all we do is work, then we become incredibly one-sided and narrowly focused,” she writes. She recommends doing volunteer work or reconnecting with friends.

It’s OK to be a woman and be ambitious. Just don’t pretend you can be in two places at once. Make sure your partner understands that a good chunk of your time will be spent elsewhere.

Network, network, network. After all, “you never know who is going to end up being a critical contact,” she writes.

Live your life without regrets. She’s not abandoning her professional pursuits, but she is taking time away from work to be with her family. She’s learned to stop saying “yes” to every invitation. 
Dori Meinert is a senior writer for HR Magazine.

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