Be ambitious … for life, not just for work

Published by reposted only Date posted on February 21, 2017

by Manisha Lath Gupta, Feb 21, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak to the women employees at a leading telco, as a part of their woman empowerment & leadership program. It was fun engaging with young women professionals who are making a difference at work. I shared stories from the last twenty years, across work and home, as a professional and as an entrepreneur, as a manager and a mother, and as a worker and a wife. We laughed, and at times we ‘teared’ up. I believe my audience enjoyed the interaction.

One of the big takeaways for me and the others from this session, was the importance of leading a multi faceted life. Too often, we get caught up with our careers and get blindsided to everything else – to our relationships, our pursuits, our health, our interests and our passions. I sometimes meet professionally successful people, who are terribly boring. One has to guard against that. Pursue a hobby or a passion – it adds a lot of creativity to one’s personality and even improves performance at work. I have always preferred multi faceted candidates for roles in my team, and it has helped build diversity & creativity at work.

The other takeaway was to focus on relationships instead of monetary benefits at work – ultimately the purpose of life is to evolve as a soul and become a better person. Work is just another opportunity to do that. If you focus on the people, the business goals will almost definitely be met. The targets, the stress, the achievement are just opportunities we are being given to learn & grow as a person. Try to be better people, and in many ways, professional life can enhance and strengthen personal relationships too. At the end of the day, you will hardly remember what bonus you got, which year you got the highest increment, and which boss rated you 5. But your heart will swell with pride when you receive a call from an old subordinate who wants to share a milestone with you, or when an ex colleague makes a special effort to meet you when visiting your city. You will realise then, that this is the most valuable take away from your career.

Have self-belief. Too often, we are worried about what ‘people will say’. Both men and women are victims of this – the former are slave to the premise of being a successful provider for the family, and the latter ridden with guilt about coming to work. Have self-belief. At the end of it all, we are all alone on this journey, and we have to do what we believe is best for us, and what makes us happy and gives us personal growth. Set your own goals, be in control of your day, and make time for things that are important and meaningful for you. Have the courage to stand up for your convictions. If you think about it, no one can really force you to lead a life you don’t want to.

When asked what my parents did differently to bring us up, and what I am doing differently in raising my children, I recounted that having limited resources boosts innovation & creativity. While growing up in the 80s, we didn’t have many toys or clothes or avenues for entertainment. So we made up games, found ways to earn pocket money, stitched our own clothes. In fact, I started a small business of tailoring and selling salwar suits while I was in college, and long before ’boutiques’ became fashionable, because my friends would admire the clothes I made for myself. My husband and I follow the same philosophy with my children. We give them less things. We give them more time, dreams, ideas and thoughts.

Life is so short, and there is so much to experience, accomplish and grow. There is as much joy in being a successful professional, as in having a happy marriage, as in resurrecting a barren piece of land, as in being able to look after your parents when they need you, as in being an entrepreneur, or, as in having friends who visit you often!

Be ambitious for sure, but for life, not just for work!

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