Do you want to be a female role model? Lead by example!

This article was originally published in The HuffPost and Ellevate

Girls often look to the women in their lives for guidance and inspiration. How and what we do can set positive examples for girls to follow. Back in the days, unfortunately, many young women including myself either grew up in work culture that reeked of gas lighting and queen bees or did not have many career driven female role models to look up to. Wikipedia describes “queen bee” as someone who sees younger women as competitors and refuses to help them advance within a company, preferring to mentor males over female employees.

However, the good news is that this type of culture is gradually dissipating and women are now increasingly seeing other women as allies, nurturing relationships, celebrating each other’s unique strengths and making powerful collaborations. In a recent article, Sally Krawchek reveals that the days of the Queen Bees are ending. ‘Queen Bee, you had your run. Rest in peace” she further adds.

While its good news that queen bees are thankfully no longer the main concern of the 21st century women, nevertheless, there are many other challenges that still need to be addressed. We need to first overcome these challenges ourselves and then encourage girls to learn from our example. In other words, we need to ‘be the change we want to see’ Here are some areas which need our attention;

 

Own It like It Was Always Ours

Despite being confident, many women are still shy of putting themselves forward, are hesitant to take up lead roles and avoid taking risks. When girls are complimented on their achievements, they also tend to deflect praise and prefer to keep their accomplishments low key for fear of being labeled boastful.

And then there are ‘Some girls don’t speak up in class unless they’re 100 percent sure they have the right answer, while others shy away from trying new subjects or activities This same reluctance also holds women back.’ As a role model we need to encourage girls to step up, accept their success and moreover, be kind to themselves. As I wrote in my article, on Imposter Syndrome we need to own our successes and believe with conviction that we belong where we are. We achieved because we worked hard and deserved the place and not because of mere luck, chance or any other external factors.

Love Ourselves and Our Imperfections

A government survey revealed that almost a quarter of girls aged between 8 and 11, admit they worry about their weight and appearance not due to a desire for a healthy living but mostly to ‘fit in’ a specific category or to appear magazine cover-worthy. As role models, we must encourage young girls to believe that they are good as they are by making them value their traits and accomplishments more than their physical appearance and make them realize that neither the length of their dress nor any other physical feature can or should be a determinant of their success.

Not just appearance, but even whilst working on projects and deadlines, we tend to be perfectionists, often finding it difficult to delegate. We, therefore, strive very hard and often put in extra hours to finish a task in line with our self-imposed and meticulous standards which can often be exhausting for ourselves and for others. We need to be more flexible, give ourselves permission to be imperfect, and show girls that it is okay to make mistakes, fail or to not know everything all the time. Moreover, sometimes ‘done better than perfect’

 

It’s Okay To Not Have Everything

I truly believe that women can be whatever they want to be. However, whether women can have everything at the same time is not something I can whole heartedly agree with. And it’s not just me.

‘We CAN’T have it all’ says Former Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman on why she thinks women are setting themselves ‘impossible standards’ As someone who is an obvious champion of women with ambition and despite her credentials the editor says that she doesn’t believe that women can ‘have it all’.

Douglas Rushkoff in yet another blog,  No, We Can’t Have It All says that we must abandon the notion that any man or woman can fully dedicate themselves to both family and career at the same time. ‘One parent will always end up doing more parenting and miss out on career opportunities, while the other will miss out on some family joys, but end up higher on the corporate ladder’ This according to her is more owing to a competitive corporate culture than failure of individuals and I couldn’t agree more.

If we keep believing in the idealistic and fanciful notion that as women we can or must strive to have everything- a flourishing career, a blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced life style all at once, we will be subjecting ourselves to delusory presumptions that will eventually make us feel less worthy and incapable if we are unable to do justice to both. The fear of missing out often puts undue pressure on us and makes us work extra hard so that we wouldn’t have to compromise. But the truth of the matter is you will always be missing out on something and that’s okay. No one can have it all. Not even men.

Be Tolerant And Accepting Of Other View Points

‘Hell hath no fury like a woman who has been scorned’

I have, unfortunately, been a personal witness to this statement on several occasions in the recent past One trend which is predominant in most controversial discussions in women only groups is the lack of tolerance and openness towards an opposing viewpoint. There is absolutely no need to bring down another woman and pass belittling or condescending comments on her just to prove your point and satisfy your ego. Be vocal and express your view point by all means but within the limits of propriety and without sounding derogatory.

You are now needed more than ever to be a role model for girls to look up to. But remember, they say that to be a role model is a privilege. Exercise that privilege wisely.

Hira Ali is Founder of Advancing Your Potential & Revitalize and Rise She is a Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Writer, Podcaster, Executive Caree Coach & NLP Practitioner. She tweets @advancingyou and can be contacted at hiraali@advancingyourpotential.com

 

 

 

 

Episode 6- Conversation With R&R Shero Michelle Green

Michelle Green is the author and teacher behind The Business of Baking, which teaches business skills to people who want to turn their baking hobby into a profitable business. She is also an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, mentor and a mum of triplets. She is passionate about educating and inspiring people to give their dreams a good shot at becoming reality. Interestingly these days the blog is attracting loads of non-bakers, because they all share one common goal, which is to see if they can make small business actually work for them.

Her aim is to tell people how it really is while still encouraging them to go for it and give them the practical tools to make it happen. She shares her real-life stories, with all the ups and downs to demonstrate that everyone can do it and yet she doesn’t sugar-coat the experience.  The most common feedback she gets is, “Thank you for your refreshing honesty!”

There are many talented people out there who are masters of the skills of their trade but they lack the business skills to make it all come together. In this episode Michelle shares some kick ass advice and first hand experiences with the listeners, who are probably going through similar things in their own businesses, to inspire them and help them succeed.
Some of the topics she covered in this episode are
•Working from home (without losing your mind or mastering Candy Crush instead of working)
•Being a mum and a business owner (and surviving both!)
•Taking the step from hobby to business
•How to market your business when you’re on a shoestring budget or you’re an introvert
•Dealing with difficult clients

You can listen to this incredibly informative podcast packed with actionable advice over here

SoundCloud

iTunes

Michelle’s  special message to the audience:

“Don’t give up on having a life because you want to have a business but don’t give up on having a business because you want to have a life! I meet so many people who say that Michelle, I can’t start a business because my children are too young, I am too old, too short, too tall, too stupid, too broke, too whatever but I say….Oh Gosh please just start it, if you have a fire within you than just do it,  maybe it will be imperfect but better be imperfect and done than never done!”