4 February 2020 is a day I was looking forward to since quite some time.
I had hoped this would have been 2019 as I had earnestly worked towards my goal and expected I will get promoted in 2019 but things did not work out in my favour. It seemed almost impossible to wait another whole year and work just as hard or maybe harder than what I had done the whole year, it just felt like I wouldn’t be able to do it again, when I hadn’t received my due this year, what was the guarantee that I would get it the next year? But a year passed by and I slogged , not just for the promotion but because thats how I approach work. I am not someone who gets complacent. When I wrote my CA exam (Chartered Accountancy) which has a mere 5% success rate, my goal was not just to clear the exam in the first attempt but to get an All India Rank and I did bag it. I had always set my goals high and worked relentlessly towards it. The sense of satisfaction that I get from achieving what I set my sights on is one that makes it worth it.
So 4 Feb 2020 is when my manager told me with a glint of pride in his eyes that I am promoted to a Director. I knew it was coming and it was a joyous feeling. It wasn’t an easy year but it was an extremely rewarding one . I took some risks in my career and some of them were pretty big but the rewards were big as well. Looking a year back, I wish I could tell myself in 2019 that its going to be ok, in fact pretty awesome and here are some lessons you will learn in the course of this journey which are invaluable life lessons:
- Learning to “let go” and accept things that are beyond your control- This is something thats known but really difficult to accept wholeheartedly. But not getting what I desired and having to wait one full year to get that made me actually realise that letting go is sometimes therapeutic. The comforting factor for me was the honest confession I made to myself that I had done everything to the best of my abilities and if I had to go back and do anything differently, there was nothing I could think of. That made me realise this was not something I could have influenced or controlled so why mull over the outcome. Life goes on and its pretty fun too, even without that one thing I was totally pining for. I learnt to drive a car in 2019, joined the gym and started my fitness journey, my daughter grew a year older and it was joyful spending time learning and unlearning things together. I took a splendid vacation with my family, 4 generations together on a week long trip to Rajasthan. And when I did get my due at the start of this year, it felt as joyful as it should have especially since I had learnt some valuable lessons on the way.
- Its the allies your build on the way that matter the most. I have been performing my current role which landed me the promotion after 8 months given the promotion cycle that comes once a year. But what made this a wonderful ride and worthwhile was the trust I built with some very senior people in the organisation. There was a point where I was tempted to look for a new job, I also got calls from consultants where I had the opportunity to switch jobs at a higher rank, I would have got what I desired much earlier and with a guarantee but something stopped me and that was the relations I had built over the years and especially over the past few months. It had not been easy to build them and letting them go in a whiff dint seem right. A new place would mean starting from scratch, with the coveted designation for sure but building my reliability would certainly be from scratch. I did not want to let go of all the relationships I had built, when the time had come for them to place their trust in me, here I was chickening out. It was like a taking a chance, a risk which might or might not pay off but I knew I wanted to take it. And I am glad I did. In a long term career, building relations and being that person whom people have faith in matters. Its not easy to build, but easy to break. As someone I greatly admire told me “You can only en cash your opportunity to leave the organisation once, play it really wise, do you want it now or later or maybe never”
- Men championing my career- Its a man’s world but there are so many who have your back. I have had some fantastic line managers, mentors and supporters in this journey who have seen me through good and bad days. While the dearth of women in senior positions at the workplace makes me sad, I wish I had more women managers to look upto, it also motivates me that I could be that kind of person to someone. I do hope I can inspire and motivate women to shatter the glass ceiling . I want to tell them its not bleak in fact look around and build your allies, and they can be diverse people who bring diverse perspectives to the table. Having a mentor has greatly helped boost my career.
The journey towards leadership positions is never easy , it is fraught with uncertainties. Its not like that CA exam where you know what you wrote and you are reasonably in control of the result. You could do your best and still not get the desired result. The journey needs oodles of patience, unwavering faith in self and a lot of self motivation when things don’t go in your favour. But having seen failure and success both in a year’s time I can surely say its one that teaches you some invaluable life lessons – lessons in being proud of your journey, knowing that no one else has had it like you so comparisons are futile, lessons in staying humble and working relentlessly towards your goal knowing well that there are things beyond your control, lessons in self love, patience and self care.