I can get a bit intense, or so I’m told. A cherished colleague of mine recently said to me, “Dang, girl, what are you trying to prove and to whom!?” Whatever could she be referring to?
I am a fervent believer in personal and professional development. To define terms here, I will be considering them as one in the same. When it comes to EKL, what you see is what you get – at both the board room table and the kitchen table. Personal/professional development is identifying development areas, targeting actions to increase knowledge or experience in those areas – basically, planning your awesomeness. Raise your hand if you have a 5-year plan! Raise it again if you also have a personal marketing plan, short and long-term action plans, complete with key performance indicators! Oh, that’s just me? Yeah, I guess I am a bit intense. What am I trying to prove?
My same dear colleague suggested that I accept myself for who I am, where I am in life, and let things happen naturally. The Self-Acceptance Hippie inside me heaved a huge sigh of relief, while the Self-Improvement Junkie got all indignant. The Hippie was thinking, phew! I can just be myself and that’s okay? The Junkie hollered, no! That’s not okay! You must strive for perfection!
Striking a balance between Self-Improvement and Self-Acceptance – that’s a humdinger for us gen-yers!
I am a product of our times, so what do I do? I decide that 90 minutes of hot yoga in a 40°C room with the uber-tough prof was just the place to explore this notion.
Dripping with sweat and looking like the literal definition of a hot mess, I revel in pushing my limits, while at the same time observing them without judgement. One of my favourite postures is Natarajasana (dancing shiva pose). Taking root into the ground on one leg, you equally reach to the sky with your hand and stretch upwards with the opposite leg. Opening, lengthening, balancing, grounding and floating, this pose builds determination and focus. I observe, this is where I am today. I stretch, the good kind that lengthens and builds, not injures. I am present.
Young women, learn to practice your career the way you practice yoga.
You may think this sounds like the Hippie talking, but hear me out. The women who blazed trails before us left us with a resounding message: You have to work harder to get less. I am not saying whether this is right or wrong, but it was definitely a notion that I internalized at a very young age. Be not just ultra-educated, but have top grades. In fact, be the best at everything – the world is your oyster and if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. And my generation dreams larger than life.
Stretching without injury
With your eyes on the prize, it is hard to remember to take stock of everything that has to happen between point A and point B. Keep your eyes on the prize, but develop strategies to get there that include bite-sized action plans. Set intermediate, short and even super short mini-term goals (this really helps satisfy our instant-gratification nature – try it, you’ll love it!). One of the major advantages as well is being able to refine your strategies and objectives in mid-climb! But above all, don’t barrel headlong towards your long-term goals with tunnel-vision…that’s just asking for a burn-out by the time you hit 30!
Observing without judgement
Know yourself. Be present enough to be able to do a personal inventory, but be kind and generous enough to do it without judgement or accusation. Think of this exercise as measuring your potential! There are lots of skills you may not have yet, but you are brilliant and capable and motivated – you will have them one day with your bite-sized action plan. No need to beat yourself up for not knowing something that you haven’t gone out and learned yet!
Take root with energy equal to that with which you reach for the sky
‘Nuff said. Namaste!