The 1 question I have asked and was also asked the most this year was “What is your definition success?”
Now, although I could describe how to identify the results of success, I did not know what the hell success was to me personally. I still don’t. This is dangerous…. It’s dangerous because when you are surrounded by the friends I have, you have no choice but to “succeed” and not knowing how to measure your own success can lead you into a place of constant comparison and wasted time. You could find yourself playing auxiliary in other people’s dreams and goals and never ever feeling satisfied with your own efforts. As I was reading my book this evening, Sheryl mentioned that success is “making the best choices we can… and accepting them” This caused a 1 man DMC ( aka meditation) and I started to think about what she meant by this. How does this apply to me?
In the chapter “The myth of doing it all” I learnt a very important life lesson. No one does it all. By that I mean no one is perfect. No one has the same size boobs, no one gets 100% on their report card or academic transcript. No one is the perfect mother, sister or child. No one is perfect and no one does things perfectly all the time. This seems obvious right? So then my next question is….THEN WHY ISN’T THE FACT THAT NO ONE IS PERFECT AN OK THING???? What is up with all the pressure; and what would happen if one day we all decided to just live within our abilities? Who made it cool to work 50 hour weeks when 42 hour weeks are standard and just as effective if not more effective?
As much as I am an ambitious person and I am one of the guilty parties who would work that 50 hour week if push came to shove, there is no denying that there is something terribly wrong with this work ethic. James L Lachard once said: “Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” Sad but true.
As women, I feel that besides the pressure from co workers, we are more likely to work 8 hours more in each week because we have a point to prove. We have to make “them” see that we are worthy of being here….So we try to be everything to everyone.
Let’s admit it, the corporate world has made some effort to accommodate women. In the past women weren’t even allowed to have a career, let alone an education. But because the adjustment is still in progress, incredible things such as paid menstrual leave for women are being viewed as sexist, weak and unfair. I mean just last month I was dying in my bed, not at all fit to drive, when I received a call demanding that I had better get my ass at a particular location as in yesterday. That my excuse for having endometriosis was insignificant…. and that the pain and nausea (which is crippling) could be fixed with a Schedule 0 drug like Panado at the location. So although this is heaven to endometriosis sufferers, paid menstrual leave will continue to be a reality in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Russia and the Philipines and not for the rest of the women in the world. One of the reasons I believe it won’t be a reality for the rest of us is because where we live women still feel they need to; and want to prove their worth in the corporate world. As I mentioned on one of my status updates on Facebook about this topic; one simple reason why paid menstrual leave won’t work is because women are already working twice as hard in every field to compensate for being women. Taking paid leave will lead to employers believing that women are unreliable and unstable and this will lead to indirect gender discrimination during the employment process. So just imagine having that reputation on top of only wanting to work the prescribed 40 hour week.
So you see… as women, we still have quite a long way to go. And as much as you cannot expect someone who is blind to drive, you cannot expect a cheetah to swim in an ocean as fast as it runs on land. Do you get me? It is not being petty, it’s called creating an equal playing field. Women would do better by identifying where its fit to fight and where changes and adjustments should be made in order to compete equally.
Since Sheryl said success was making the best choices we can and accepting them; I know it’s easier said than done to just be great at what you need to be great in and learn how to say no when you cannot. And as I am about to enter the concrete jungle which is the corporate world, I will have to stick this message up on my bathroom mirror and remind myself everyday that I cannot do it all! No one expects me to do it all and I should be brilliant at what I have chosen to do. End of story. I don’t want this to be mistaken with me settling for mediocrity. One must understand that we live in a world filled with external pressure which we must fight off every single day. Now on top of that why should it be okay to also deal with the self induced pressure? no ways, I’m not ready for a brain aneurysm. You aren’t ready for a brain aneurysm. So lets just relax for a second and fix these priorities.
Ultimately, it’s about not sweating the small stuff. Doing what YOU ARE ABLE TO DO to the best of your ability and putting the middle finger up to everything else that you have classified as trivial in your life, THEN being able to live with the trade off’s and keeping it moving hunty! Glamorizing the idea of Superwoman is a waste of time. Superman is also a flawed individual, don’t let them fool you.
**Special thanks to Zethu Mashika for editing this post