What did you want to be when you grow up – and how does it relate to what you do today?

When I was four years old, I saw my first hockey game.I was fascinated, and I surprised my parents with my first career idea:I wanted to be a hockey player. This was 1975, mind you, and our grade and middle school hockey teams were boys only. Not being allowed on the team is the first "No" I truly remember and it absolutely did not make any sense to me.

And it hurt. A lot. I was furious. I threw a fit (or lots of fits, more likely).

I begged, I demanded, I cried. All to no avail. Like for all the other girls who wanted to be on the ice, figure-skating was my only option, and I reluctantly took it.

Reluctantly and rather half-heartedly. So now, how does all that relate to what I do today – helping women in male-dominated environments become confident leaders? I feel there are a few points:·     I was clear on what I wanted and not afraid to be seen.·     I knew that it wasn’t okay that certain things were for boys only.·     I didn’t give a **** about what was appropriate to want or do “as a girl”.·     But also: I did not succeed in breaking my personal preschool glass ceiling because I had no ally (when we talked about it many years later, my father agreed that he probably could have gotten me on the team as the first girl but didn’t because he didn't want me to pursue such a high-contact sport). One of the things I strongly believe in is that you can build confidence on failure – under one condition:You need to be willing to learn from the experience. Now, of course I am not claiming that I learned from the experience at 4 years old, but later for sure.I learned that getting what you want always starts with allowing yourself to want it.And then saying it out loud and finding the support you need to get it. These days, working with so many women in male-dominated environments I feel closer to the little girl who wanted to play hockey than I have in a long time. Often, I am as furious as she was – less on my behalf, though, but on the behalf of all the of women who are facing such unfair obstacles when pursuing their dreams and careers. At the same time, I am no longer 4 years old, so I can let my anger and frustration fuel my passion to make a contribution to greater equity.Though it often feels like trying to level Mount Everest with a teaspoon. If that thought hits me, I remind myself that there’s a billion women out there with their own teaspoons, and together we can actually do this.

(Plus, tons of male members of underrepresented groups and allies!)

It’ll still take a lot longer than a hockey game, but the price is also so much more attractive than even a Stanley Cup: a level playing field for everyone.

How about you?

What was your childhood dream job and how does it relate to what you do today?