Many young girls believe that women who are successful, have risen to senior positions and become CXOs, have got there because of some privileged background they’ve come from, or because of some unique opportunities that they got. The reality is that women who have done well have succeeded not because of their special circumstances, but because of how they have used the circumstances around them to their benefit.
All of us have to deal with the same issues in trying to manage home and work simultaneously; we feel guilty for leaving small children at home, we feel equally guilty for running away from an office get-together because there is a school project to complete, we try to cope with the husband’s transfer (and his relatives!), handle irate bosses and mothers-in-law and so on.
I see some women deal with all this calmly and efficiently, however many can’t handle the pressures of this duality and end up becoming stressed and resentful or quitting their jobs.
While there are no easy answers, the mantra of Accept-Adapt-Achieve is one I strongly believe in, and which has helped me and many other women merge their careers and family lives successfully.
Accept: A lot of women seem to be uncomfortable with what they see as a mismatch between their own personas and the expectations of a tough corporate world. Hence, they switch to extremely aggressive, male-like behaviour and are often embarrassed about their softer side, tending to run away from emotions at work. Ironically, the high EQ style of management with its consensus building and empathetic approach is what corporate India is looking for today, even amongst its male leaders, and women will actually do extremely well as leaders in the new corporate environment. They just need to accept that they are different from men and use their unique abilities to the fullest.
Adapt: We can’t be great moms and wives and great professionals, and have an active social life and learn painting and scuba diving all at the same time. And even if we want to, we certainly can’t achieve all this without active support from our eco-system. If we desire to make a success of both home and work, we need to learn to adapt and make the situation around us work for us. We need to co-opt our husbands, our families, our mothers into our careers and use whatever help we can get from them to do justice to both sides of our lives.
Unfortunately many women don’t ask for help because they associate it with loss of control. They cannot accept losing control of the kitchen to the mother-in-law, or the upbringing of their child to their mother. The truth is most successful women have built a powerful network of support around them, by giving up control of certain parts of their lives. This has helped them focus on the critical aspects of their lives and achieve a lot more than if they had tried doing it alone.
Achieve: Finally, we all need to work exceptionally hard if we want to achieve success in the entirety of our lives. The fact is that women have to manage two shifts if they want to work; as soon as the office shift gets over the other shift of cooking/feeding/dealing with homework starts. In juggling all parts of their lives they need to learn never to give up, especially at the time when they have babies and for a few years after that, which is the toughest period in a woman’s life and also the most vulnerable.
That is the stage where many women cannot cope with the pressure and decide to give up. I had morning, afternoon and evening sickness throughout the nine months of my pregnancy. But I just carried plastic bags and boarded the train for the one hour journey to work, without missing a single day. And I know a lot of women friends and colleagues who have dealt with similar issues without batting an eyelid.
If you can persevere through those taxing years; success, both at home and work is yours for the asking. And that can be the sweetest reward and the best achievement. Women who have reached the highest echelons are often the ones who stayed the course and didn’t give up! You can be one of them.
Source: iDiva,Apurva Purohit.
Apurva Purohit is the CEO of Radio City 91.1FM and an IIM –B alumnus. She is one of the very few women CEOs in the Media and Entertainment space and has been managing media organisations for a large part of the 25 years she has spent in the corporate world. While she has nothing against men and indeed is quite fond of them, she believes women are equally competent (and sometimes more so!), and they need to start grabbing a larger part of the sky for themselves.