I very much liked what Rania Habiby Anderson had to say in her The Next Women business magazine article. “Yes, governments, policy makers and institutions have much to do to level the playing field for women. But, we cannot just wait for them to do so. There’s a lot we can do on our own to enable our own business success!”
It is not enough for the government policies to change or companies to adapt a more female friendly approach. The reason we founded DrivenWoman a year ago was our fundamental belief that women have to change the way they view their own opportunities in life, and start improving their career or entrepreneurial prospects by taking initiative and adopting a more proactive approach. We can have all the funding or support we like, but if we as individuals don’t believe in our own possibilities to succeed or don’t work hard every day to improve our resources, no-one is going to spoon feed us the ingredients of our success.
I think too often we are tempted to blame the outside world or male-dominated practises for the lack of female success. But it’s not a zero sum game. Female success is not taking anything away from men, it’s building more wealth and happiness on top of it! I don’t believe in confrontation nor the idea that we should behave like men to succeed. Everyone can create their own opportunities. If the current male-dominated environment is suffocating, then we must leave and start over, work bloody hard (and push that boat baby!) to create something that better reflects what we are about.
I believe there’s also a definition problem. We still tend to refer to success like men – through tittle, wealth and status. However, everyone should be entitled to their own definition of success. It just means someone has to be a little brave and stick their hand up to offer an alternative point of view. It’s scary to say you don’t want only career success, but also meaning in your work, and happy family life and time to keep yourself healthy. But shouldn’t this be the standard rather than a discussion?
And finally, perhaps the biggest problem is that women view success in absolute terms and it can be paralysing. I look at Sheryl Sandberg or Sophia Amoruso and think “I’ll never be as successful as them“. But rather than comparing myself to some miracle-women, I’ve discovered that success is granular rather than absolute. Like happiness, there is no such thing as absolute happiness (and we should stop chasing it). The book ‘10% Happier‘ by Dan Harris captures the concept. Now I strive to lay tiny bricks one after the other, every day. And the only measure of my personal success is that each brick I lay brings me learning and experience, and I can see I keep moving forward.
I’ve stopped staring at the horizon for that magnificent mansion and just concentrate on each little brick at a time. Gone are days of procrastination, a regular time waster of absolute success seekers.
What do you think is the main obstacle holding women back? Is there one? And what can we girls do about it?