Being a woman is not easy. I'm not comparing it to being a man because I'm not a man and don't really understand a man's struggle. I'm simply saying that being a woman is not easy.
I've always heard older women say it and maybe have said it before without really understanding it when I was younger. But right now, as I type this, and you read it – I feel the struggle that is being a woman, especially in the career aspect of my life.
On my birthday the one person who knows me best, my mother, blessed me with this book: Nice Girls Don't Get The CornerOffice 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers byLois P. Frankel, PhD.
This book explained the anxiety that has been haunting me most of 2012. I've worked hard, taken on new tasks at work, took on courses and challenged my writing. But I couldn't get rid of the feeling that I was doing something wrong or missing something.
I tried to fill this feeling by working longer hours, spent less times with friends and was always trying too hard to impress at work. This book took these clearly useless attempts of feeling better about my situation and dumped them out the window.
The underlying message of the book, which the author repeats all the time is: "Quit being a Girl!"
Basically; I cannot view my career in the simplistic way I had been doing, hence another point the author drums into the readers head is to learn to play chess.
I've not been strategic with my career at all; I've taken a lot of things for granted. Although hard work pays, one must also be strategic – don't waste a move. Simple things like when a NO is okay, how to "decorate" your desk, a hand shake, building relationships and when to leave a job.
Mistake #6: Being Naïve
"Women may not have the market on naïveté, but we certainly do our fair share of taking what people say at face value."
I cold chill went down my spine as I read this line.
This has been my biggest mistake in my career thus far. I can make countless examples were I was completely naïve about situations; not asking enough questions, not getting clarity on positions or expectations.
I just went with the flow, thinking things were as my mind manufactured them to be.
Lesson learnt. Ask, ask, ask! Even if it might make you look stupid or ungrateful. ASK! Luckily I'm still in the learning phase of my career and it's not a lesson I'm learning ten years into working but now, in my youth.
Other mistakes women make that stuck out for me include:
#3 Working Hard
#12 Holding Your Tongue
#21 Sharing too much personal information
#38 Putting your work ahead of your personal life
#44 Striving for Perfection
#48 Waiting to be Noticed
#73 Smiling Inappropriately
#94 Denying your power
This book does not have the answers to the ultimate success but it got me thinking about my career in a different light.
Simply just going about things and thinking that everything will just fall into place is too simplistic. I'm reclaiming back my career and not leaving it to fate.
I recommend it to all my girlfriends. But I also recommend that everybody, regardless of gender, to be more strategic about their careers. Think about every move you make, relationship you build and projects you take on. Think long term and short term.
Understand the game because that's all it really is and aim to win!
Johannesburg • tmolefe.blogspot.com
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