Limitations In Early Life:
I was always a shy child with a big inferiority complex about my dark complexion while growing up. Somehow then, I misunderstood it to be a deficiency in me. My childhood dream was of becoming a princess just as it is in any fairy tale, but at the same time I would not even consider myself as an eligible candidate, due to the complex that I carried.
In retrospect, however, counter intuitive as it may seem, I realize now that it was this inadequacy that got me where I am today. As a survival skill, I decided to make up for the lack in the looks department by being a good student and to break stereotypes by doing things that were not so typical in those days, eventually leading to all that I have done so far.
Getting over my sense of inadequacy has always been my biggest challenge. I have had to work consciously at building my sense of self and confidence. Learning to be Confident is no different from learning any other skill. The more we practice the better we become. While we say success happens when preparation meets opportunity, I also think that success requires the courage to fail and let go of fears of what others might think of you.
Fear can block us from doing what we want to do. I realized early that the clarity of what one wants and taking risks to achieve the same, was the only way out of this sense of inadequacy. Stepping out of one's comfort zone is scary but that is the only way to grow personally and professionally. My admission into XLRI is one such example, coming from a typical middle-class family, I had to also negotiate skillfully around my family's fears and socio-cultural beliefs.
Later, I took up a job away from home and even moved to the US to study. I had managed a scholarship and while to the rest of the world it seemed like I was set for higher studies; the truth was it really wasn't as much for academic purposes as it was to find my own sense of self and confidence. Then I have also done some unconventional things in my career. I have taken a couple of breaks and walked in and out of the workplace as it suited me.
To me, being a good leader can mean proactive action as in leading a team or it can mean being the force behind a team that is leading itself! I would place myself in the latter category.
Inclusion And Diversity:
As a diversity consultant in this space for almost 15 years, I can vouch for the fact that corporate India's commitment to Diversity and Inclusion is at an all-time high. While unequal access to opportunities still exists due to a variety of reasons, the good news is that business necessity has driven organizations to be more intentional and deliberate about inclusion.
Business case conversations are pass and no one is doubting it. It has moved away from, how many women do we have? or how are we doing on PWD and LGBTQ+ employees? to How can we get the best out of our diverse workforce? Progressive organizations know that a major factor in employee satisfaction, creativity, productivity and retention is the experience of being valued, trusted and respected. This is possible only in an environment that has learned to respect all aspects of diversity and inclusion. The better prepared an organization is (to ensure this), the sooner it will reap the benefits.
Words of Wisdom:
To me building one's personal sense of power, that is, having a more positive inner sense of ourselves and our capabilities is the foundation for everything else. It's about taking responsibility for ourselves and recognizing that we have the power to influence the events in our lives. If we can set our minds to accept that 80% of our success is our own craftsmanship and that only 20% is dependent on the way the wind blows, the odds are that you are set for success.
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