Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – And That’s A Good Thing

You can't always get what you wantIs it possible that not getting what you want is a key to becoming an extraordinary leader?

Yes, says a prize-winning economist, and this is especially true for women in today’s workforce.

“Sometimes not getting what you want, in the here and now, may well translate into the key puzzle piece needed to redirect your career compass and catapult you a step further to reaching your potential,” says Dr. Tara Shirvani, a celebrated World Bank policy specialist, in this article. “[O]ur next generation of future leaders will need to break the conventional differentiation between success and failure and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Shirvani was the recipient of a 2017 Female Rising Talent Prize from the international Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society. Her article was part of a “Daring to Lead” presentation at the Forum’s meeting in Paris in October.

Pick Up the Pace

The annual gathering of the Women’s Forum has been called the Davos for women, although 25 percent of this year’s attendees were men. “Without you gentlemen this is a lost battle,” said one attendee.

The theme in Paris was “Engaging for impact: daring to lead in a disrupted world.” A recurring message; though progress is being made on diversity and gender equality, it’s not happening fast enough.

“It would take us 117 years at this pace to turn our societies truly equal and diverse,” says digital strategist Louise Piednoir.

To help move things along, Piednoir offers these dares:

For women

  • Dare to take a fresh view.
  • Dare to consider that your impact is great.
  • Dare to promote your achievements, not diminish them.
  • Dare to stop using the word “small.”
  • Dare to be ambitious and speak out.
  • Dare to ask for support and involve your partners, families, friends, colleagues and coaches.
  • Dare to fail.
  • Dare to make choices. Having it all (perfect worker + perfect mom + perfect friend + perfect lover, etc.) is a deceptive and guilt-triggering myth. Only you can say what makes you happy.
  • In a word, dare to be free.

For women and men

  • Dare to reflect on the way you raise your girls vs. your boys, and act on what you see. All stereotypes begin at home.
  • Dare to accept a new vision of leadership.
  • Dare to change.

For business managers and HR departments

  • Dare to ask for any open position (even at board level) for at least one diverse profile in the top three finalists.
  • If the diversity balance is not there, dare to ask only for diverse profiles for certain positions.
  • When you act, simply dare to act. Too much internal communication can block opportunities for diverse applicants. Communicate only once you have results.
  • Dare to influence your stakeholders, especially suppliers. Support them in their diversity journey.
  • Dare to leverage new technologies to provide more flexibility (telework) to embrace the variety of personal situations your workforce is facing and unleash its productivity.
  • Dare to be fair. Work your internal data and align compensation for the same job.
  • Dare to promote women based on their potential (as is done for men), not necessarily on their past successes.
  • Dare to accept that leadership is multifaceted.

What dares will you set for yourself? How can you help others meet their personal dares?



Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. During the course of his 35- year career, he has been a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations ( Contact him at or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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