Gladys Simen is known as the “motivation whisperer” among friends and colleagues–something we could all use right now. She’s recognized her own courage to propel forward through any circumstances, whether that’s starting over in five different countries or navigating the compounding responsibilities of working motherhood.
“I came to a country that was not originally mine with no support system and it stretched me and I didn’t break,” she recalls.
For Gladys, it took a pandemic and racial tension reaching a tipping point to finally recognize her superpowers: being brave and “super acutely aware of things.”
“There’s a lot of things that changed in the world,” she says, reflecting on 2020. “It hit me hard–harder than I thought it would–because I’m parenting Black kids, so I had to start thinking about what am I leaving for them not to have the same struggle.”
“Every parent, no matter what color you are or race or creed or whatever, you want the best for your children,” she says. “I want my kids to look at me and say ‘you contributed to this being a better place.'”
Another superpower Gladys had to get comfortable with is being a role model. She’s quick to point out that it took courage to recognize her influence beyond her own children, and recalls a time when she hesitated to assert herself publicly.
“I discovered that having an edge is not a bad thing,” she says. “I realized that using my voice brings me more support than I thought. People come and say, actually I like the new Gladys better.”
Now, she’s expanding the use of her forces for good to help people define post-pandemic life on their own terms at www.mylifecouch.com.
“I won’t be shocked or surprised if people now realize maybe that life is not about racing to have a title anymore,” she says. “It could be just being present or enjoying what you’re doing. I’m trying to create that platform for other people, because that’s what fuels me.”
Gladys is particularly passionate about the intersection of career and motherhood, having been through her own transformation after her first and second experiences returning to work after having a baby. She encourages new moms to focus on everything gained in the process, especially during a particularly rough day (or year).
“You’re more powerful than you think because you have that tiny human being that you created and you have gone through a crash course of any leadership thing that people can teach you,” she says.
It’s one of the reasons that Gladys gets so frustrated when people in the workplace don’t recognize–over even go so far to discount–the superpowers that only motherhood can teach you.
“Becoming a mom is juggling so many things at once and still showing up,” she points out. “I think boards of directors or companies need more moms because you know how to make things work with very little.”
Gladys wants to flip the script on how we often react when presented with a list of qualifications in a job description or career development plan.
“You should be coming with a badge, ‘I’m a mother. I tick all those boxes.'”
She’s also learned that it takes a lot of courage to say no and stay true to what provides meaning in your current situation.
“Every single day you wake up, there’s an opportunity to do something different, better, greater, bigger,” she says. “There’s no right or wrong answer.”
Gladys gained the 20/20 vision we were all hoping for—and in some cases may need to do a double take to realize is within us.
“I’m having so much fun building amazing human beings and satisfying their curiosity,” she says. “This is the amazing age where they will never be six and three again, where they’re just exploring and seeing the world through their eyes. It’s magnificent. It’s success for me right now.”
Even though Gladys had to adjust to lockdowns and virtual school while juggling her full-time technology role, she loves that her children have so much more access to her.
“They know that I’m their best friend because we can go and jump in a mud puddle because we want to,” she says. “These are the moments that I was not able to give them before.”
“I usually say the superpower’s inside you and you don’t realize it until it is time.”