My Superwoman Cape Strangled Me

Yesterday I was a panelist at the ASIS International Indianapolis Chapter meeting discussing careers, transitions, branding and service in the law enforcement/security industry.  I was honored to be asked to participate and further honored to be sitting with two very distinguished and intelligent men as panelists. 


During the course of the conversation the topic of mentoring came up, specifically mentoring young college students wanting to get into the industry. First – how fabulous is it that this group of professionals actively want to mentor?  Pretty freaking fabulous if you ask me!


One point that I brought up was about expectations.  I encouraged them to ask any potential mentee what their expectations are about the industry and certain jobs in terms of what happens when they graduate and possible career paths.


A second point, somewhat related, was getting exposure to life skills or skill sets that are important yet not normally thought about – written communication for example.  It is vital in any industry but let’s face it, write a warrant incorrectly or unclearly and you are screwed.


I was discussing the meeting with my best friend this morning and she brought up another topic that – and I am generalizing here – young people need to learn: time management.


Ok, I’m just going to say that I just had to give myself a mental smack because using the term “young people” instantly makes me feel old and I did it to myself.  Damn it!


One thing I love about my best friend is that her mind takes the same twists and turns that mine does so our conversations begin at point A and take some weird, winding path to reach point 14.  It works for us.  During our conversation we realized two things:


  1.  There is no such thing as time management.
  2. We, as parents/caregivers/providers are primarily responsible for young people’s inability in time management.


It is because we wear Superman capes.


This point was further illustrated to me courtesy of my 21 year old son this morning.


Now that I have about four different lines of thought going on here, let’s see if I can bring it all together to actually make my original point…stay with me here…


Illustration from my son


My son got a tax refund – yay him.  It was mistakenly mailed to him instead of being deposited into his account.  I received the check yesterday and let him know that 1. Calm down, I got your check and 2. I would be depositing it into his account today.


I got a call, ok, repeated calls until I answered, this morning asking if I had deposited it yet.  I had a scheduled call this morning and planned on doing it after my call.  This did not set well with him.  His expectation was, and I may be exaggerating a bit here, that I would be waiting outside the bank doors for when they opened so  I could get it in there the first possible moment of the day.   


Yeah, not going to happen. 


I explained that I have a schedule and I worked it into my schedule.  After explaining this and letting him know that if he had certain expectations I would suggest that he communicate them to me prior to the day of the event.  His response was that he needed it deposited.


I tried to do the grown up explanation thing, that didn’t work.  So I responded, “Well baby my world isn’t always on your schedule.”


That pretty much ended communications for the day.


No, wait, I literally just got a response: “Yes it is, your my mom”


There is no such thing as Time Management


Time cannot be managed.  It is a continual, constant every progressing thing.  Everyone has the same parameters.  You cannot bend time or make it adjust to you.  We do not manage time we manage actions.


Knowing you have set parameters to work with allows you to manage the activity within those confines to complete whatever tasks are at hand.  You learn to plan, identify resources, prepare and allow for challenges.  This is action management, not time management.


Need to write a report? The most effective way to do so is plan; not your time per se but your activities.  You need to perform research, how much time will you allow for that.  You need to compose a draft, how much time is involved in that?  You need to perform revisions and finally a final draft.  Included in those time parameters are you allowing for delays, interruptions, writers blocks or heaven forbid technology issues? 


Now, knowing what all is involved, where do they fit into your schedule?  Do you have classes to attend, a job to perform, family commitments?  This is true management.  Seeing the entire picture and blocking out the appropriate time.


This is where the Superman cape has strangled us and we have failed our children or young people (dang it, there is that phrase again.)  Again, a generalization, but stick with me.


Throwing Away our Superman Capes


When my son was younger he was involved in a lot of things: school, sports, practices, family activities and personal time.  He never just played one sport, oh no, he had to have about 10 things going on at one time.  So, being the good mom, I controlled all the scheduling.


I knew when the practices where, what time, what was required, fitting travel time into all the planning and made sure I got his little butt to everything he needed. 


I made his little life easier because I handled all the logistics.


It was a mistake – one I wish I would have realized a long, long time ago.  I never allowed him to think about what was involved in participating in all these things; ie the time commitment and the conflict with other people’s schedule (namely mine).


He just knew the schedule that I prepared.  I wish I would have taken a step back and said, “Ok, you have practice at 6 – what do you need for it?”  This would have allowed him to think about getting his practice gear ready.  Then I could have asked, “Did you wash it?  It will take about an hour to do so, so when are you going to do that to make sure it is ready for practice” instead of saying, “I washed it, it is in the dryer. – because I wear the cape”


I would have also asked, “What time is practice and how are you getting there?”  This would force him to think about the time prior to practice and if I had a conflict.  What if I had a client meeting and couldn’t take him?  He would be walking if he didn’t work it out with me prior; and if he was walking that was additional time he would need to tack on to his schedule.


The cape I wore so proudly that allowed me to get him where he needed, all prepared actually strangled me.


I didn’t help him prepare for managing activities himself. 


So let’s not be so hasty to get frustrated with (sigh) young people for their lack of “time management”.  They haven’t been taught because we have been so busy wearing capes.  Even in a work setting, we are making the same mistake, in setting schedules for them instead of engaging them and asking them to assist or even think about the planning.  Because it is easier to do ourselves.  And why not, we’ve been wearing the cape so long, we know how to do it with our eyes closed.


I hung up my cape a long time ago, but as you see, the effects of wearing it for so long still come back to bite me in the…I mean strangle me. 


I recognize that I have played a part in the lack of certain skills (not that I like admitting that) but in doing so I also realize if I helped set the stage for it, I also have a responsibility to retrain the brain.


It ain’t easy or fun; but it is important.  Take a look at the (double sigh) young people around you – are you allowing them to learn?  It is time we stop complaining about their lack of skills and knowledge and give them the opportunity to learn. 


Be a mentor and when you do incorporate not just industry skills, but life skills and skill sets that we take for granted from wearing that cape for so long.  They are not going to get it right the first time and it may be a struggle because it is new to them, but given the opportunity, communication and expectations, they will surprise you and that will make them much more prepared to succeed.


Lisa K McDonald, CPRW

Brand Manger & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer




2 thoughts on “My Superwoman Cape Strangled Me”

  1. your my mom.

    good one!!!

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