I have asked myself this question time and time again so I wouldn’t be surprised if all of you out there struggle to find an immediate answer. Once upon a time climbing up the corporate ladder seemed like the perfect destination. That was until I discovered……. in order to survive I needed to play the ‘political’ game.
The further my MBA journey takes me, the closer it brings me full circle to my dream of becoming a successful business woman who brings her own ideas to fruition, is in charge of her own day to day operations and makes decisions that are in alignment with her core values and passion for ‘social’ justice.
I truly believe that my purpose in life is to make a difference and bring quality to people’s lives whether its helping women build confidence by stepping outside their comfort zone or helping and holding organisations to account by building a culture of aligned values where employees are motivated and feel like they have a sense of purpose by living through their values.
I believe that everyone deserves a fair chance. I believe that there is no such thing as one person being better than the other. I believe we all have and bring unique qualities to the world and by qualities I mean:
- Cultural differences
What a wealth of qualities to embrace, share and learn from. Now that right there is confidence 101!
To me a true leader understands his/her limitations and continuously seeks to improve those limitations. Leaders need to understand that a position of authority does not mean the person in it knows everything. Today’s leaders need to be open to new ideas and listen to their employees. Failure to recognise the importance of employee engagement will lead to a disengaged workforce which leads to loss of productivity and ultimately impacts the bottom line.
When it comes to dealing with my emotions, self-control has by far been the hardest task I’ve ever set myself. It’s like I’m stuck in groundhog day, time and time again whether I’m having a difficult conversation or am in receipt of some seriously poor customer service, my emotions seem to get the better of me. Especially if I feel like I’m being taken for granted or taken for a ride. This notion that everything has to be the way I thought it out to be is ridiculous!
People let us down all the time, heck I’ve let people down. When things are not going as planned we seem to, or at least I seem to, fire off and blow the fuse at whoever is nearest to me and this is not okay. It’s time to change! I recall an MBA lecturer’s mere reminder ‘Who said it had to be that way? Who said so?’ I’m not saying we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves when we are being disrespected or mistreated, I’m merely saying that we need to get our emotions under control so that we can respond more effectively, build better personal and professional relationships and lead happier and less stressful lives.
I know this is not always easy but we do have a choice and it will require a good strategy (a change in mindset) to keep us on track. Thanks to a great MBA colleague who introduced me to the 4A’s when dealing with stressful situations, I am learning and gaining back some self-control. Next time you are having a meltdown, try the 4A’s strategy:
Accept the things you can’t change. Acceptance involves stopping, looking and listening to what is going on around you and answering to yourself ‘is being emotional going to help me in this situation?’
Adapt to the situation. Listen to what the person is saying as you may have unrealistic expectations/deadlines.
Alter change the situation. Find an alternative route to your goals.
Avoid topics that are going to trigger an emotional imbalance for you.
In true spirit of walking my talk and stepping outside my comfort zone I took up my sister’s offer of joining her for a Bikram Yoga class. She’d given me the ‘lowdown’ having already attended two classes. Judging by her experience this was pretty hardcore and not for the faint hearted.
As I walked into the room I was taken aback by just how warm and stuffy it was in there. I didn’t think too much of it until we got about 30 minutes into the session. OMG you have got to be kidding me!! This was hell, I was literally fighting not to throw up and the feeling of passing out continued throughout the class.
The instructor was brutal…stretch harder, push yourself, extend the legs, arms……she kept pushing and encouraging the class, which was great expect all I could think was…my god if I can just pull it together and not run out of the class that would be awesome! I had to sit out a number of routines and felt like the heat and humidity in the room were defeating me big time. My legs were shaking throughout most poses and I even fell over once! How embarrassing I thought to myself! Not to worry, I picked myself up and kept going!
As I looked over to my left, my sister was having a good chuckle at me and the lady to the right just smiled and looked equally exhausted. I’d lost track of time and it felt like I was in there forever! The mind over matter routine was seriously wearing thin. What pulled me through? Well my sister would argue it was my stubbornness and perhaps a little competitiveness but ultimately it was my attitude and ability to motivate myself to push through.
By the time the 90 minutes were up I swear to god I had sweat coming out of my eye balls! So what’s the reward? Well the reward was giving something new a go and completing the class without quitting, or storming out of the room. The fact that I had to sit out a number of routines was irrelevant to me, the important part of the journey was the fact that I’d tried something new and discovered that Bikram Yoga is definitely hardcore! (oh and I may have potentially lost 5 kgs in sweat!). The moral of the story, unless you try out new things you will never know or experience anything new, so go on step outside your comfort zone and give something new a go today!
Looking back two years ago when I first embarked on my MBA journey, although very excited I had so many doubts running through my mind. Those doubts however were not going to get in the way of my goals. I’d reached a point in my career where I had been the underdog long enough and needed to take charge in order to reach my full potential.
Don’t get me wrong, my journey so far has had its fair share of ups and downs. There were a lot of tears and tantrums along the way but with each unit firmly under my belt and bringing me closer to my goal, it was well worth it! What gets me through the difficult times is mainly my values of respect, persistence, determination and courage to just keep going.
My motto is and remains: “so long as it’s not illegal, immoral or unethical” then the only person limiting you, the only person who has the power to stop you, is YOU. Others may have the resources, but ultimately the power is in your hands.
Surround yourself with positive people, who are willing to share and support your journey. Be courageous, believe in yourself and allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s the only way to learn and trust me, some of the best lessons I’ve learned were as a result of my mistakes.
Whether you are looking to improve your dance moves, build your dream home or change careers, you need to set some clearly defined, tangible and measurable goals in order to get you closer to your dream.
You can DO and BE whatever you want to be. YOU have the power to make your dreams come true. The only two questions you need to ask yourself are:
- What sacrifices are you going to make in order to get there? And by sacrifices I mean, giving up on your favourite past-times, hobbies, time with friends/family in order to devote more time to your cause, your dream.
- How committed are you? How passionate are you about your dream?
Your commitment then needs to translate into an action plan and you must follow through on those actions. Use your values to drive and motivate you, as you will have hiccups along the way. No-one is perfect and we all make mistakes but accept those mistakes as part of your journey, not the final destination.