Post By: Sharifah Raudhah AlQudsy
A few keywords or phrases like ‘shattering the glass ceiling’ and ‘juggling the balls’ are exclusive conversational topics among women. I hear it time and again. Not only in conferences and international summits but also in our usual coffee meets.
Recently those phrases revisited a few of us women business owners, as we were having lunch at an upscale, award winning restaurant belonging to a close friend.
As Sherena, the restaurant owner in her mid 30’s, sat down entertaining us with a few of her signature dishes, we started sharing our daily affairs. Sherena shared with us an upcoming interview she was asked to do based on the very subject– “The Glass Ceiling” and all of us screamed in exasperation!
Jumping to another topic of what other friends are doing led us all to a state of being overwhelmed. Naziehah lamented how we are forever juggling with more balls and how stressful it is for women to make sure we don’t drop any of those balls.
“It’s alright to drop the ball”, you can always pick it up again and continue juggling” I casually replied to the remark and all five faces stared back at me with a blank look.
“Why didn’t I think of that” added another friend, a lawyer turned event organizer.
“That feels like abandoning, don’t you think?” quipped another friend. She had just completed her Master in Enterprise and an embarked on a career in fashion retailing.
That’s how most women think, at least the working women in my circle of friends.
Women have strong nurturing instincts and at times this instinct clashes when they take up more responsibility out of home. Yet bringing up this very feature will do wonders in business. I realized as I am building my business too, and having to deal with this contrarian need of time.
Surprising though for me, I take solace in other women who juggle quite well and are successful in their own field; one is my mother and the other, my younger sister. They share the same positive outlook in life, same traits too and most interestingly they make this “juggling business” looks like a celebration of feminity instead of a heavy burden.
Here’s a few tips that make me and a few of my other friends ‘good jugglers’ and keep us from feeling overwhelmed:
1. Good planning (with flexibility in mind)
I plan my daily routine to the “T” i.e. daily menu for the family, laundry and major appointments with clients well in advance. Yet I am also prepared for a Plan B when I can’t cook for the family or I need to change my schedule with a certain client for a better business opportunity.
“A good juggler has flexible hands”
2. Learn to delegate (and accept imperfection)
My children are my best assistance. This I learnt from my mother. She taught us to cook, clean the house while she continued to pursue her dream as a late educator. Look around your household and you will see abundant resources. My 8 year old helps to tidy up the house, the 12 year old clean the toilet while my 15 year old is in charge of the kitchen department.
Education in motion I call it!
3. Say No (Tactfully)
Women are just beautiful creatures. I know when I need help and support, I can rely on them. We have a big problem in saying no. It hurts because of our caring and nurturing nature.
But I realize for women to be truly happy, they need to be true to themselves, to their dream. This is when learning to say No to less important things becomes important. Saying it tactfully will help people understand your predicament.
4. Control what goes into your mind (The Media)
I can’t deny that we women are more sensitive, have deeper emotions attached to us. Thus we can get easily overcome by the emotional aspect of feeling overwhelmed, for instance.
I control that feeling by controlling what goes in my brain on a daily basis. Reading good books, listening to good music and recitation of the Quran, prayers/meditation along with having conversation with good people all help in dispersing negative feelings.
The media (TV especially) can be good antidote provided it helps to calm us instead of arousing certain feelings like anger and sadness. I steer away from programs that bring those feelings about, as much as I can.
Finally, the support of your loved ones, your husband especially will be the icing on the cake. The best person to give ‘permission’ for a woman to drop a ball for me has always been my husband. The remark I gave my friends is a constant echo I receive from my leader, my husband.
Through her company Face2Face Technology she founded in 2007,Organisations request Sharifah as the authoritative speaker on community networking, internal and external networking and b2b soft skills.
She can be reached at face2facetech.com