Embarking on a transformation Journey named PGPX : Full time 1 Year MBA at IIM Ahmedabad

The choices you make will define who you become– Shikha Sharma, Axis Bank CEO

The word “transformation” means : “a marked change in form, nature or appearance”. More than the definition, two words listed as antonyms (sameness, stagnation) give us insight into why organizations, countries or Individuals embark on any transformation journey. We do not want sameness or stagnation and we seek change outside and within. I too decided to embark on such transformation journey named PGPX – residential full time 1 year MBA program at IIM Ahmedabad . Its been few weeks and I want to share my experience so far:

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Inauguration of 12th batch of PGPX

Most difficult part is making the decision to disrupt the status quo

After working for 12 years, I decided to go back to school. This decision was the hardest decision of my life as by this time I also had the responsibility of 2 children and a home. I was overborne with guilt of leaving children behind. I was also scared of living alone without family after a long time. My mind was full of apprehensions and dilemmas whether it was a right decision to disrupt not only my professional and personal life but also life of my children and spouse. It was indeed a hard and brave decision to make as often expressed by others to me. This is the phase where many women instead decide to drop their plan or ambition as they fear the disruption such drastic change will cause in their lives. If you are contemplating this decision, my advice to you would be to go for it. Once you are past this difficult decision making phase and have made up your mind, it becomes easier. It is entirely doable and worth the sacrifices you would make.

Change is completely disruptive (even more if you stay alone without family)

You suddenly arrive in a new city and start living in a totally new environment- a new city, a college campus, a hostel room. You eat in cafeteria and go to a class instead of office. How amazingly different life can become overnight hits you and there is initial resistance but within few days you start settling in and in few weeks start loving it. Just hang in there and go with the flow.

Rigor, fast pace and intensity of program is effective and actually helpful

No time to settle in or take it slow. It is overwhelming in the beginning but gets you to speed pretty quickly and is actually very helpful in dealing with emotions and the drastic change. When I took decision to join the program and in months before start of program, even the thought of staying without my children was enough to make me teary eyed and guilt ridden. It was in-fact not as tough as I imagined and post initial settling period hiccups, the rigor and fast pace of program left no time to miss home. Intellectual engagement in class and group studies and tight schedule of program immerses you completely into it and keeps you focused on tasks at hand which are plenty at any point of time.

Always remind yourself why you are here.

This is specially relevant to women such as me who chose to not bring family to campus. There are emotional moments of living away from family such as when you video-chat with family and you see your children or when they tell you that they miss you or when you miss seeing them, hugging them or being with them. In such vulnerable moments, it is helpful to remind yourself the purpose of coming here. Keeping the focus on the purpose of staying away from family will make your resolve stronger and will give you strength in dealing with your emotions. It is a hard choice but there must be some good reason why you still made that choice. It would be good to also acknowledge that this is a temporary stay and having made sacrifice of staying away from your family, you must make most of every second of it.

Only you exist.

If you are a woman and a mother, When was last time you could only do what you wanted to do even for 24 hours. When was last time your thoughts about work or self were not interrupted by thoughts about issues waiting at home – children’s home- work, classes or other responsibilities at home. When was last time you just lived life as you, the person. May be before marriage and kids. It is almost like a time travel. After so many years of living a multiple role life, you suddenly reclaim your earlier life without any additional responsibilities of being a wife and mother. You do miss your family but at the same time, you can’t help to not notice how free you are to focus on only you and your needs. Its like on those overwhelming moments of conflicting demands of work, children and home, you wished running off somewhere and staying alone for sometime and that wish has come true. Live it fully before it gets over.

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Honored to inaugurate the program along with IIM A Director and Program Chair.

It is a modern day “tapasya”

During the inauguration of program, PGPX chair Prof Sunil Sharma gave an excellent analogy of PGPX to a tapasya. Earlier, sages used to go to forest to do tapasya for some time to gain deeper knowledge, or to find purpose of life . I feel like doing a tapasya. I have left everything behind – my home, spouse, children and my life to come to this place and do one thing for a year – to learn as much as I can. To learn from anyone I can. To learn anytime I can. The greatest opportunity cost while we are here would be to let our focus deviate to anything other than learning.

Learning is the key

I can feel the excitement a child feels when he opens a new gift and likes what he sees. He cant wait to play with it. Its only been few weeks and I am loving the experience so far. When and where am I going to get all time to myself, to think, to introspect and to reflect upon my past and future. I am already starting to feel that this is going to get over very quickly. I look forward to each new day, each new class, each new assignment, each new interaction with professors or peer because in each one of them lies the opportunity of learning and transforming myself.

Note: PGPX office is inviting applications for Year 2018-19 batch. Click here for details.

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You are a leader in making. Act like one.

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Sometimes, it’s “what you don’t say” counts more than what you say. Perception is as important as reality, if not more. When it comes to branding, perception decides the brand value. Personal branding is important to build to reach corner offices and boardrooms. It is true for everyone and more for women because women have to overcome a subtle gender bias against their capability and potential to reach the top and lead an organization. You don’t have to be the smartest and most knowledgeable to be perceived as a leader. You have to be perceived to be smarter than others. All leaders are judged by their body language. Importance of nonverbal communication is depicted in graph below, a result of research by Dr.Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA.

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Following are some recommended body language do’s which women should exhibit to be perceived as powerful and a confident leader.

  1. Work on your voice and watch you voice tone:

As per this study : people who put out the right kind of sounds—below the range of conscious human hearing—become the leaders of most groups. The process of picking a leader has more to do with having the right kind of voice than it does having the right ideas or the right physique. You can work on your voice, and produce a leadership-quality sound.

2. Establish and maintain an eye contact

Eye contact conveys trustworthiness. People who meet your gaze seem sincere and trustworthy, while those who don’t seem either dishonest or lacking in confidence. However, too much eye contact can be uncomfortable  Studies suggest the proper amount of eye contact in the U.S. and many other countries should be between 50% and 60 % of the conversation, mostly when listening.

3. Use appropriate hand gestures

Hand gesture can complement the words you are speaking. Try Steepling which is a body posture when someone brings their hands up towards their chest or face and presses the tips of their fingers together. This is a gesture of confidence, self-assuredness and even superiority.

4. Use power poses 

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Take your space. Women tend to minimize the space they occupy through pulling in their bodies and minimizing their space. An outstretched, open posture projects an image of power and confidence. Research at Harvard and Columbia Business Schools shows that simply holding your body in “high-power” poses (leaning back with hands behind the head and feet up on a desk, or standing with legs and arms stretched wide open) for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone—the hormone linked to power and dominance—and lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.too. Power poses are great way to boost your confidence and portray leadership potential.

4. Firm handshake

People with weak handshake are judged to be passive and less confident. Face the other person squarely and make sure you have palm to palm contact. Shake the hand firmly and for at least few seconds.

5. Remaining calm and composed

Women have a tendency to go overboard on expressing themselves and their emotions. Expressing too much can overwhelm your audience. Be watchful of your expressions and hand movements to appear in control and mature. Calmness and composure are often associated with leadership and authority.

6.  Be business like

Maintain a distance literally and figuratively. Smile but do not smile excessively. Do not flirt. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity about your intentions. Control perceived girlish behaviours such as twirling your hair, playing with jewellery such as rings or biting your nails. These things also convey sign of nervousness and lack of confidence.

7. Speak more in negotiations

Research has confirmed that in negotiations men talk more frequently than women and interrupt frequently. Do not keep waiting for your turn to speak because you might not have it if you leave to others to let you speak. There is a famous quote by former secretary of state of US, who when asked what advice she had for women professionals, replied, ” Learn to interrupt”.

Good news is that body language behavior can be learned and internalized with practice. Communication skills are key to be an effective leader and one can not rely on only instinctive behavior when it comes to nonverbal communication. In order to be successful leader, one has to be aware of signals sent by non verbal cues and choose appropriate body language to convey more power, confidence, and leadership potential.

Reference : http://www.scienceofpeople.com/2013/11/body-language-alphas-nonverbal-secrets-leader/

 

Are we falling into “Gender Trap” when raising children ? PART I

It is important for parents to evaluate periodically if they are raising their children in most gender neutral way? We should be mindful of not falling into the gender traps set by society since ages. W137039-quotes-about-raising-childrene don’t even realise that as parents we are allowing or sometimes even promoting behavior which is sowing seeds of gender inequality in young impressionable minds of our children. World is gendering little children and as a parent it is our responsibility to protect our children from getting stereotyped. Here are some key pertinent questions which would tell us if we are raising our children in gender neutral way.

Are we drowning our girls in ocean of pink ?

Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. This one has gone too far. There is also a gender discrimination here as you do witness newborn boy babies getting gifts or apparel in blue color and newborn girls in pink but as they grow blue goes away and all colors except pink or peach come in for boys but girls are drowned in pink  for another 7-8 years. At Least it would have been fairer to girls if blue had stuck to boys the way pink stuck to girls but that’s not the reality. I have a 3-year-old daughter and without my ever picking up pink stuff for her or promoting pink as a color , pink is her favorite color. Everything she wants is in only one color and that’s pink. I do not know how to “de-pink” her and bring to her attention the diversity and beauty of all other colors. There is nothing wrong with pink color but then there is nothing special also about pink color which other colors don’t have. Just because she is a  girl, a child’s color palette should not be limited to pink or purple.

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Source: Pinterest

Are we choosing extracurricular activities classes for our children through invisible gender tinted glasses? Dance for girls and sports for boys – sounds familiar?

Activities beyond studies are very important as these activities not only shape a child’s personality but also shape his or her point of views and opinions. For children between age 3-8, when there isn’t any preference or particular interest of child, parents choose the activities which sometimes mirror their own interests and sometimes mirror gender stereotypical norms. In Dance classes, you would find more girls than boys and in sports classes, more boys than girls. I would recommend to expose your child to both and then let the child choose. Here also, many girls are kept away from sports & related activities only because  these have been categorised as boys stuff. Imagine what would have happened if Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu would have not been introduced to badminton. A Sport not only teaches you a skill but also the lessons in teamwork and grit. Sports shape your personality. Let’s not keep our girls away from the amazing world of sports.

Are we choosing gender neutral toys for our children or as gifts for other children?

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Source: http://assets.change.org/

Why do we buy LEGO or Thomas & Friends engines for boys but not girls? Why does a girl get to play only with Barbie doll, read princess stories and watch movies such as Frozen. In my daughter’s second birthday, barring few, most of the gifts were either kitchens sets/house plays or Barbie related toys. Why don’t we gift girls Lego sets, cars or engines ? By not doing so, we deny them the exposure to another world itself and thus keep them away from developing multi dimensional interests and personality. Girls like Barbie because that’s what they get to play with- at home, in friend’s house or at birthday parties. Toys Industry is promoting gender stereotyping which contributes to gender inequality in a way. Visit any aisle of girls section in a toy store and you would find plenty of Kitchen sets, house sets, makeup kits, hair dryer kits and scores of barbie and her friends as if the world is getting young girls ready for their future jobs in kitchen and house. This one has serious repercussion in promoting gender inequality in household chores when these children grow up and are playing with real house and kitchen sets. Read my blog on gender inequality in sharing household chores  here.

Read further on gender traps when raising children in concluding PART II of this blog series.

How to make successful career transitions ? PART I

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” The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” J.P Morgan

About one-third or 30% of human life is spent working to earn livelihood. It is important to spend one third of our lives doing something which makes us happy and content other besides providing the livelihood. Many a time, we do not choose our career, we happen to get there by chance or without design. It takes some years of understanding of our job, life  and ourselves to realize that we might need to change our career track as what we are doing does not meet our life and career goals.In 2 blog post of this series, I would be discussing the process before you actually make the career change in Blog I and how to go about making the career transition in Blog II of the series.

First things first  “there are no perfect choices, only other choices”.

If you are contemplating a career change to run away from a temporary bad situation in your current job or Industry – tough project, a tough boss, tough policies. Please remember that there are no perfect choices, only other choices and if issue lies with you settling in any job, any change would not solve the problem and you would find yourself in similar situation very soon. Make sure that the intent to change career track is for right reasons and not an escape route.

Get a one line answer to ” Why you want to change your career” ?

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There might be many valid reasons for you going for a career change. Example – being laid off, Role being phased out, Changing life stages such as motherhood. It could be simply you wanting a new, better, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. Whatever may be reasons behind seeking the change, know at high level what you expect to gain from the change. Your measurement of how successful your career transition was would be based on what you expected to gain from it.Your goal or objective from change could be for example:

  • Finding more purpose and meaning in your life
  • Setting out in a different direction in your life
  • Getting out of corporate rat race
  • Finding your mission in life, at last
  • Aligning your skill sets and interests with your job
  • Deciding to try something new
  • Get more work life balance

Know thyself well. The road to your dream career is a road that first passes through you.

Most career change seekers who fail, do not fail because they do not know about job market or how to make the transition, they fail because they did not know themselves in and out. Who can know you better than you? You need to reflect upon your life and job experiences and do a thorough inventory of your skill sets, emotions, interests and preferences. This is the most important part of your career transition plan.

Inventory of your favorite skills and fields.

Time for introspection, reflection on experiences and getting inside your heart and mind to know what ticks you, upsets you or motivates you in work and life. Put the following inventory on paper if you prefer to work in systematic way:

  • What are the skills you most enjoy using?

List down your favorite transferable(functional) skills. Prioritize them in order of importance and enjoyment for you. Key functional skills categories are people skills, data skills & operation skills. Physical skills, Mental skills, Interpersonal skills.

  • Where do you want to use your favorite skills?

List down your favorite interests, subjects, fields, Industries or fields that fascinate you. Fields that use your favorite skills. Skills inventory and fields chosen have to go hand in hand  for compatibility and future success.

It is ok to keep work and passion separate

It is said that find a work you love to do and you don’t have to work for a day. Undeniably it would be a perfect life but at the same time it is also okay if your work is not necessarily your passion.There is a reason why work is called work and hobbies are called hobbies. It is alright if two are separate. When a painter starts selling his art, he is no longer an artist but becomes a salesman. Please remember that most of the time primary objective of career or work is to take care of your basic needs and give you a quality of life and opportunities to enjoy  life beyond work.

Read about how to make the career transition in my next post PART II of this blog series.

Speak Up. Be Heard. Be Noticed

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Image Source: LinkedIn

Women speak up less than men do in work settings at least and I have noticed this throughout my career. If I have only one advice to give to working women to advance their career, it would be to “speak up”. When you speak up, you make your presence felt and shine the light on your potential. It can take courage to speak up – whether for your rights, your opinions, or for something in which you believe deeply. This single most change of speaking up more can empower women not only in workplaces but in overall society.

Why should women speak up more in workplace ?

  1. To make your presence felt. To be heard and noticed. To add value

In global economy and workplaces, not all meetings are in person. In a telecon meeting, if you don’t announce yourself and don’t speak up at all, you very well might not have been attended the meeting. It is important to make your presence felt by participating and contributing to a discussion. There is a reason why you have been included in a meeting and you should strive to earn your seat in a meeting and add value to it.

2.  Speaking up is critical to your growth at the company

Every meeting is an opportunity to  display your leadership potential and to build your professional brand. One can  achieve it  through speaking up at appropriate moments. Every time you remain silent, treat it as an opportunity lost. Keep a count of it and you would start speaking up. You need to earn believers in your ability to advance ahead. Speaking up more has been linked to displaying leadership potential. You earn your mentors and sponsors by speaking up and displaying potential.

 

3. Speaking up builds self-confidence – the secret ingredient for long-term success.

Confidence is not a static thing It keeps changing and you need to keep replenishing any loss of it. Speaking up has been found to be helpful in building confidence not only in yourself but of others in you. Mustering the courage to speak up can add volumes to your confidence. Just hearing your own voice in a meeting has been linked to contribute to an increased self-esteem.

4. Speaking up can get you promotions, salary raises and help

Humility is a great virtue but not so in workplace. Do not silently keep toiling and expect others to make a note of it and reward you. You shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for a promotion or to be recognised for your contributions. Do not maintain a stoic silence in those crucial performance appraisal discussions. Speak up for yourself and your efforts. In juggling between dual responsibilities of office and home, do not be afraid to ask for flexibility in work or any considerations which might help you in your work. Make your case and put it across assertively. If you don’t ask for it, you would never get it.  If you ask for it, you may or may not get it but you still at least have a shot at it.

5. Lastly, Speak up when something’s not right

Sometimes people cross lines in behaviour. You need to speak up the first time it happens. Speak up and say no firmly to an inappropriate behaviour or request. Do not be afraid of consequences. Do not let your silence be misunderstood for tacit approval.

Here are some tips on how you can speak up more and make your presence felt.

  1. speak-up-2Believe in yourself. Don’t be hesitant to put your thoughts across

Most of the things come down to your self-confidence. Speaking up publicly not only requires good communication skills and good content but also confidence and courage within. Women need to keep working on their self-confidence and self worth.It is a known fact that women speak less in meetings not because they don’t have anything to say but because they are not confident that they would add value. Even when they speak, they are apologetic about interrupting or making a point.  Don’t hesitate or apologise. Just speak up.

2. Do not judge and disqualify your opinion as not worthy of mention.

As many a times, women out themselves from a race to the top, so do women themselves disqualify their point of views as something which would not add value to the discussion. You don’t decide that. In fact you earn your seat in meeting and add value by contributing to the discussion. If you are merely present and just absorbing information, you are not adding value to others and to the discussion.

3. Be prepared. Do your homework. Make your notes.

Prepare for your meetings and presentations. Go over the agenda, brainstorm and make notes of points you would like to make. Make notes while meeting is going on. Being prepared would not only add  value to quality of your point of view but also to your self-confidence. Being prepared makes you feel ready and you look forward to the meeting to participate and contribute.

4. Learn the language of assertiveness

Using correct language can help in being assertive. Women tend to tone down assertiveness with use of defensive language and starting sentences with phrases such as ” I think” or “I feel”. Sometimes these might indicate you are not sure of your opinions. Rather use starting sentences which convey certainty such as ” I believe”, ” I am sure” or “from my experience , this is what i have seen”. Handle interruptions with declarative sentences such as ” I haven’t  finished what I am saying”. Be assertive.

4. Practice, Practice and more Practice

Practice makes perfect. Start with small meetings. Build confidence. After a while speaking up in meetings would start coming naturally to you. Even if you have been the silent majority in meetings, make an effort. If speaking up doesn’t come naturally to you, force yourself to speak up at least once in a meeting to start with. Once you are comfortable with speaking up, focus on content and adding value through the quality of your point of view.

It is not that women act differently in workplace and outside of it. A confident women who is not hesitant to voice her opinion would most likely do the same wherever she is – in office, at home or a party. To be a confident woman in workplace one day, a girl needs to grow up to be a confident woman with a mind of her own. Parents need to encourage their daughters to speak up more. Teachers need to be cognizant of giving equal opportunity to a raised hand of a girl in class. Community needs to not shut up a girl when she tries to make a point. Nobody should dismiss a girl’s point of view because well, it’s a girl’s point of view. Girls should be taught to not only have a point of view but to also have enough encourage to put across their point of view. Speaking up is akin to standing up for your opinion and for yourself.

 

Power Dressing for Success

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“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it”. – Edith Head

“Dress shabbily and people will remember the dress, dress impeccably and people will remember the woman”. – Coco Chanel

We may not like it but it is a fact that we all judge people by the first impressions they make. Your image is important. According to a survey of business leaders published this year by the Center of Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania, two-thirds said that when it comes to getting ahead, image makes a major impact.  Clothes we wear impact not only how we feel about ourselves but also our performance and productivity at work. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, subjects who donned doctors’ lab coats scored higher on attention-related tasks than did those who did not. Power dressing is a tool to convey the message that you are competent, able, ambitious, self-confident, reliable and authoritative. Definition of power dressing as per wikipedia is ” power dressing is a fashion style that enables women to establish their authority in a professional and political environment traditionally dominated by men.” Margaret Thatcher, one of the first female icons of power dressing summed up when asked how power dressing should be for women  “never flashy, just appropriate“.  Power dressing is particularly useful in leadership roles where trust and authority is expected.

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Image Source:Van Heusen
  1. When in doubt, choose formal over casual: Better to end up more formally dressed than casually: Higher the position, more formal the dress code. Formals such as business suit make you look put-together, competent, and trustworthy. Irrespective of context of a meeting, for a leader it is safer to be formally dressed rather than err on casual dressing. If you would have noticed, Men CXOs can hardly be seen in anything other than business suits at least when it comes to business meetings. Unfortunately and fortunately women do not have a single approved dress code like  a business suit when it comes to power dressing. There is lot of variety of what all a  women can wear to work hence leaving scope for subjective judgement which can be good or bad depending on the person. If you are not sure, stick to commonly accepted formals for women such as pantsuits in western wear and churidar kurta in formal fabric such as cotton in Indian wear.
  2. Comfort is king or rather queen: Wear something which you are comfortable in and used to wearing. Do not attempt new styles for any important meeting where the discomfort from dress can distract you or make you conscious and less confident.
  3. Dress appropriately keeping in mind the audience and place. Be Roman in Rome. . Always factor in cultural sensitivities and mix of people you are going to meet.  Make sure what is normal for you for example short skirt or sleeveless top will be not be too bold for a conservative audience and place. If you are going to err, it’s better to be on conservative side than bold side
  4. Avoid revealing and bold clothes: You objective is to not look desirable rather to look business like and keep audience comfortable and focused on your capability rather than on your physical appearance. Studies have shown that wearing revealing clothes to work is negatively correlated with a positive opinion about woman’s capability. Stay away from low necklines, too tight clothes and bling jewellery.
  5. Choose the colors judiciously: Colours of your clothes play an important role in exhibiting power and confidence as colors already have established connotations. Accepted work colours are black (chic), navy (trustworthy), red (dynamic, aggressive), grey (conservative). Go for neutral colors and avoid bright ones like hot pinks, oranges and neons.
  6.  Appear groomed: Hair should be clean and set and should not appear unruly or unkempt. Studies have shown that makeup increases a woman’s confidence but keep makeup discrete and don’t overdo it. Clothes should be clean and ironed properly.
  7.  Wear well fitted clothes : Fit of clothes you wear is more important than your body size/shape and brands of clothes.. Do not opt for either too loose or too tight clothes.

Clothing sends out very powerful messages about who we are, so dress to make a positive impression, dressing for success is a necessary precursor to obtaining it.

How to close the Confidence Gap in Women ?

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Image source: theatlantic.com

I volunteer as a mentor to students and working women on many forums and if I had to group the questions asked in different threads with common themes, can you guess which thread would have the maximum questions? It would be none other than Confidence gap. Right from school students to experienced working women, a common theme running in the background is ” I am not good enough” as evident in questions by school students in forms such as “I am not good at a particular subject or sport” and questions asked by working women, an example :” I don’t have good analytical skills” or have a drawback called “career gap” due to break taken to look after children. Many a times what the young girls and women see as skills gap is nothing more than actually a confidence gap.

The Importance of confidence building and why it should start early.

Confidence is key to long-term success and is underestimated for the role it plays. In fact I feel confidence building should be taught as a subject in schools right from kindergarten. Confidence is such an important trait that many a times what we see lacking in a child is actually lack of confidence more than anything else.I can not emphasise more on importance of building confidence in a child. Somewhere while growing up the confidence gap keeps on increasing in girls as compared to  boys. As per data from LeanIn, between elementary and high school, girls self-esteem drops 3.5 times more than boys

Women have low self-esteem than men has been backed  by research.

A recent study by Wiebke Bleidorn, Ph.D., from the University of California, reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, has found that the disparity in belief between men and women is universal.The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”

Following are some ways which can help in closing the confidence gap in women

Don’t be apologetic about the dual responsibility of a mother and professional. Instead be proud

Wear your scars on your resume as a soldier or a sportsperson does. It is a proof of your carrying out a responsibility nature has entrusted upon you. I am sure every woman or man out there understands what role a mother plays in our lives.  It does not take away anything from you. In fact motherhood adds dimension to your personality and teaches valuable lessons on patience, prioritization of work and balancing between two important things career and family. What it actually means that you have managing two full-time jobs.

Keep working on your profile. Never take a break from it.

Working on profile does not mean making a new resume. It means working on creating things which can go on your resume. Make it a continuous process of adding value to yourself as a person and a professional. This can be done through many ways such as volunteering for NGO, contributing in networks, professional certifications, doing internships in areas of interest. Even if you are not working fulltime, you must keep working on your profile. By doing so, you not only add skill sets to your profile but also replenish any lost confidence during compromises made to balance career and family responsibilities.

The world will take your own verdict on you.

Be kind to yourself in your SWOT analysis which is the only analysis which really matters. See your skills positively.Confidence is defined as our belief in our ability to succeed at a given task, so what matters is how you rate your ability. Get rid of those lingering self doubts you have been harbouring since childhood.We all are work in progress. Everything can be improved and worked upon if you are willing to doIf you would doubt your own capability, how can you expect anyone else to do otherwise as who can know you better than yourself.

Confidence equality = Gender equality

Important piece in bridging the gender gap is closing the confidence gap. There is an unspoken bias in society where confident outspoken women are labelled bossy or worse bitchy and confident men are called assertive and displaying leadership potential. Being ambitious is a positive trait for men but not so for women.This long running bias has forced women to become subdued and submissive in order to earn the approval of people in workplace and society. This in turn makes women risk averse and more cautious in how they make career decisions. Over the time, women miss out on opportunities and do not realize their full potential.

Before expecting anybody else to do, women have to believe themselves more. Women have to nurture their own self-esteem as much as they nurture their loved ones. Women have to be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they are to others. Most importantly, women have to overcome their fears and stop overestimating the risks and underestimating themselves.To quote Sheryl Sandberg, “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” Give your dreams a try and you might surprise yourself more than others.