Madam Secretary. An Example of Successful Rezooming

madame secretaryAt the risk of seeming to spend every Sunday night in front of the TV, this month I am commenting on the new TV hit Madam Secretary, (MS). It explores three important struggles we rezoomers can face.

If you haven’t watched Madam Secretary yet, you should. It is about a secret service professional who opts out of her government career to pursue different opportunities. She is then asked by a former colleague to come back and work for the US government, albeit in a different more challenging position. Who among us has not been in a similar situation or had a colleague placed in this dilemma?  We make a decision to change what we are doing to do something else and are then asked to rejoin a former firm or company or come on board a new firm. Maybe we have just begun our journey to rezooming our legal career. What do we do?

In my 4 years as a rezooming attorney I find the following three thorny issues continuously arise. These are the same issues facing MS as she rezooms a career with the government. The writers on MS do a great job of presenting issues that face rezoomers and meeting them head on. I will concede few if any of us will be asked to rezoom our legal career at the behest of POTUS. Putting that aside for a moment, let us look at these three pesky challenges we rezoomers and the new Secretary of State (SOS) face when considering rezooming our careers.

The three main struggles are:

  • our own opinion of our ability to do the job
  • our family’s needs and wants (and the impact rezooming will have on their lives)
  • how employers, co workers or colleague’s view us as we rezoom.

These questions are identical whether we are rezoomers facing our journey back into the law or MS navigating the waters of SOS. You want to have/earn everyone’s respect as you navigate these new waters. Yet how do you do this and keep everyone, especially yourself, happy?

Your opinion of your ability:

Madam Secretary (MS) is learning how to navigate her new world of delicate political positioning as she balances ‘on the job’ training. She finds she has some rough protocol edges yet good political instincts. You see her struggle with her choice to rezoom. Her position as SOS is a high powered/high profile assignment. Is she up to the task? Does she want to be here? Do the people she reports to or who report to her respect her? Does she respect herself?  Is it taking too much of a toll on her family and former colleagues’ relationships? Can her marriage and family survive?  Was she selfish?  MS has these conversations in her head and with her family and staff. It makes for extraordinary insight into her humanity and vulnerability. It gives rezoomers pause because these scenarios play in our own heads. The reality of MS’ situation should help us realize we are not alone in our struggles as we rezoom. Everyone needs to, first and foremost, believe in themselves and their ability if rezooming  is going to work. If you believe, everything else will follow.

Your family’s needs:

MS acknowledges that rezooming work for the US government has taken a toll on her family. She takes the time to appreciate their individual struggles with her absence during this transition. MS takes the time to address her family’s discomfort and appreciate their feelings. She asks them to weigh in on how they feel and what they think everyone might do to solve the disconnects. Since she is going to keep her job, she wants to know how to do it in a way that is least impactful on their lives. This listening conversation, depicted on screen, gives the family and viewer the opportunity to observe how feeling heard, respected and understood works to solve these kinds of issues. As viewers watch, the family reorganizes their daily lives and MS pursues rezooming her career.   Watching this respectful conversation unfold can be the catalyst for helping other rezoomers acknowledge the need for and benefits of having a similar discussion. Rezoomers, don’t be surprised when similar family difficulties happen to you. There are difficult topics you need to address with your family as you rezoom. This program shows you ways in which to address the issues that leaves everyone feeling satisfied with their position in the family. Rezoomers will benefit from watching MS practice this method of family dynamic speaking, then benefit again by taking it home and using it as a template to speak to their own families.

How others view you:

Finally, there are struggles at the office with its own inherent politics or loneliness. In MS, she takes this job after the sudden death of her predecessor. She inherits the staff and contacts he had in place. They look to her for guidance while also desiring to follow the status quo. As rezoomers, especially solo rezoomers, we often feel we have only ourselves to look to for help and guidance. This is not true. (Go go back to number 1 – our opinion of ourselves). We sometimes choose to hide our fears of inadequacy by going it alone. That belief never works out well for solo rezoomers. We need input to become our best selves. As MS rezooms her career she feels very alone and inadequate. Yet she takes the time to address and appreciate her staff and their loyalty to her predecessor. She speaks to the elephant in the room and asks them for input and suggestions on how to gain their loyalty. She then asks them to get aboard her ship or leave. A difficult but necessary conversation to have with staff, colleagues and, for MS, world leaders.

Whatever path you take to rezoom your career these three issues will pose daily challenges on your journey. They become your reality once you decide to make the transition back into the legal world. Recognize you are not alone when facing family, position and personal struggles as you rezoom your legal career. If you are observant you will see ways to address these issues when they arise and solve, via respectful discussion, for the best outcome. Addressing these challenges will make your transition as smooth as the one depicted in Madam Secretary. Now get out there and rezoom.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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