By Paul Keijzer
In the past couple of years we’ve all seen the rise of the working mom versus the stay-at-home mom battle. What I’ve noticed is the typical perception of women is positively changing, regardless of their position in life. Partnerships such Getty and Lean In are supporting this movement. Whether she is married or single, a business woman or a stay at home mom or both for that matter, women are being empowered and the rest of the world is beginning to see them that way.
So it’s time to break down barriers created by labels. No more #wahm (work at home mom) or #workingmom – it’s about the #workingwomen. Because when you get rid of all the shades of grey, it comes down to the black and white: the obsessions women have that make them successful.
There really is no way to succeed unless one is obsessed with success. For women, this is especially important because of all the stereotypes that they have to break to get where they want to be in their professional lives.
One woman I know has been in the telecom industry for over 10 years. Because she isn’t able to temporarily relocate to another city as required by the company her juniors continue to surpass her on the career ladder. Now, some may argue that this is the opposite of success. However, being able to maintain a career with two young children is no easy task. And she keeps going at it year after year to reach whatever stars she can. I say, that’s obsession with success.
When the constant barriers that are faced by women, especially in Asian countries are constantly thrown in their faces, passion has to become an obsession. There are many women who continue to work simply because they are passionate about the field that they’re in.
Consider the sky rocketing number of home bakers in Karachi, Pakistan. Some of these women started their businesses by selling only one type of cake. As they continued to be passionate about the quality of their products they became known as “Boutique Bakers” and rightfully charged an arm and a leg for mouth-watering home baked goods. Without obsession about their passion, they would not be able to break entry barriers set by the major players in the industry.
3. Time Management
The juggling that women have to do in cultures where there are expected to first think of the house and it’s responsibilities makes it crucial for them to obsess about time management. “Girly” things like keeping the house in order are supposed to be the number one priority and then they’re supposed to think about work.
I know a couple, both in the same industry. The husband works a standard corporate job while the wife offers consulting services from home. The former recently attended a training on Time Management and when he shared the takeaways with his wife, she smirked. Why? Because she had already been doing all of it, without any training, just to get everything done. Excelling at time management is one reason why women have been scientifically proven to be better at multitasking then men.
4. Getting the Work Done
I categorize “Getting the Work Done” differently than “Success” only because the two are both important. Of course there’s an overlap, you need to meet your milestones to become successful but being obsessed with this really molds how a working women plays out her day.
One home-based entrepreneur who I’ve closely worked with in the past excels in the most extraordinary circumstances and meets all required deadlines. From unwell children to extreme power outages – she really has overcome it all. I know her to go with 3 or 4 hours of sleep day after day only so she can get work done while the rest of the world sleeps. There are very few people I know who can function as well as she does on such little sleep but it’s about the obsession to meet the deadlines.
5. Caring What the Family Says – and Not Caring
This is the only bit of gray that I’ve put into these 5 obsessions and that’s because it’s a very important point. I strongly feel that everyone, both men and women need family support to succeed. However it comes harder for women than it does for men.
Let’s consider a husband/wife example. A system process consultant for an international firm got married, had a kid – the usual story of a Pakistani (and most Asian) families. Post the child, the husband’s views changed on the mother working. She was probably the smartest employee in the organization but there was nothing she could do when he put his foot down. For the next couple of years she got a certification and had another kid. And eventually when the family settled into their own skin, she slowly started to work again. Only a few hours a day but her husband got used to it. And now they’ve found their balance.
Remember that none of this is a comparison of men vs women, stay at home moms vs working moms or anything of the sort. It’s to acknowledge that there are many super women out there doing all sorts of things. And I’m willing to bet that nearly all of them are obsessed with the 5 points above to make their world work. Do you have any success stories that you’d like to share of women in the workplace? Please leave comments below.