What they don’t tell you in school about how to be successful

For a few years now, I have been very much engrossed in the idea of the ‘secrets of success’. Sometimes I feel like there is some sort of ‘special sauce’ that some people add to their lifestyles that enables them to become successful, know what to do, how to do it and when. Do they meditate? Do they all wake up at 5am? I feel like the kid who turned up late to class because of traffic, and missed the lesson which taught the recipe. After an insightful conversation with colleagues and friends today, it seems i’m not the only one who believes this.

It seems that hard work in your chosen field might not be the only way to get ahead. It also seems like good strategy and tactful thinking to elevate your hard work might also not be enough. When it comes down to getting a big investor on board, attending an interview, making new friends, going on a date or even trying to get a better seat on a flight, it seems that your commitment to your lifestyle, appearance and wellbeing goes half, if not most of the way to securing a positive result.

From having nice teeth to healthy looking skin, a slick suit to polished shoes, an impression of looking after yourself is desired by most people who would be interacting with you. No one likes to admit this is the truth in the fear of seeming shallow. However, it seems that the effort one may put in hard work in your field, might have to be matched by the hard work you bring to your own appearance and general lifestyle, in order for the stakeholder to believe you are a good investment, partner, employee, client etc.

Instead of focusing on the widely covered negatives on this topic, I am going to [for a change] comment on the positive. I know and believe the negatives exist and I think it is unfortunate that we have to concentrate on our appearance, however I do think that young people should be aware that this is how the current global society operates so that they can make their mark and use this society to do so, if they wish.

It is, first and foremost, a good thing for individuals to become healthy, fit individuals – which much of the time can be seen through aesthetics. It is a widely believed view that the attitude you bring to your own wellbeing is a reflection of the attitude you will bring to work and relationship. As children or even young adults, we should be taught the importance of healthy lifestyles as a tool to being successful, not just as a stand alone entity of a gym class or food tech class.

This does not only apply to food and exercise, but also mindfulness and self awareness. We teach children how to use a fork and knife and brush their teeth as this is important in their day to day life and future, yet we don’t tell them, for example, that it is important to meditate for their day to day mental health. Considering many successful people consider meditation an important part of their daily routine, it seems that it would be useful to develop such habits from a young age through the education system.

These are a couple of the most important lifestyle features that I feel are not taught enough to children and young people. However there are many more from public speaking to increase confidence, to resource management so children understand how to manage what they have, to politics which are all so poorly covered in many education systems. Although I wholly believe that a varied and stimulating academic program is necessary for young people to discover their passions and choice of field, the practical nature of those very fields must also be taught early on, whilst the importance of well-being needs to be seen as the path to be successful in those fields. This is the secret sauce.

Over and Out.

Can we have it all? A Humanist Issue – Not a Gender Issue!


‘So I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented at all levels of the work force. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.’

I would go as far to say that Anne Marie Slaughter has inspired me through her TEDtalk just as much as Sheryl Sandberg in her [EPIC] speech on ‘Why We Have So Few Women Leaders’. Not only does Slaughter address the issues facing work-life balance & gender inequality, but she rightly acknowledges the importance of the role of family and how work-policy & societal norms have rendered the home as second-rate to the work place. Here are a few random thoughts I had whilst listening:

Coming from an Indian-background [full of cultural controversies], I find the dynamics of home decision-making extremely interesting. Anne Marie claims that in most cultural norms, Men are considered the primary breadwinners and Women, the caregivers. Ironically, in the same cultures, and more-so in developing countries, patriarchal family dynamics allow Men to be at the helm of decision making in the home. [I haven’t referenced this, however i’m sure you wouldn’t disagree!] This means that, although women are the primary care-givers, Men are in charge of family expenditure and therefore decisions on health, education and the futures of their children. Something doesn’t quite add up!

I also love the fact that Anne Marie recognises the pressures on Men to be the breadwinners and the increasing ability of Women to choose their positions at home and at work. It’s like the reverse of Caitlin Moran’s checklist on inequality & sexism, number one of which is, ‘Are the men worrying about this?’. Instead, Women are increasingly being championed when they succeed in either realms of family or work, whilst Men are reduced to one option of what it means to be a Man.

Lastly, I believe the over-arching issue at play is the responsibility of businesses in the wider society and as the creators of work-culture. Are businesses accountable to their employees and therefore the wider society? Or are they only answerable to their shareholders? As a believer in corporate responsibility and social mobility, I think that businesses have a responsibility to ALL of these agents, equally. As employers of individuals that strive to balance their lives, businesses should champion the flexible strategies that allow both Men and Women to excel together in both work and home. At the same time, these qualities should be valued by shareholders. This is important for the business, for employees and for future generations.

As a young women who is extremely far from making these decisions, I am already thinking about the issues that may effect myself and my future family/career. It’s more scary that I am considering these issues than the fact that these issues exist in the first place! I believe this is a sure sign that the paradigm we currently live in needs to shift away from the militant work-culture and towards a healthier [and evidently more successful] flexible norm.

Over & Out.

The Snowflake Generation.

As a member of the ‘Snowflake Generation’, I must unfortunately but amusingly agree with almost everything said in this post! Brilliantly written! So many people I know have grown up like this and I have to laugh, because, I guess that I have some of these ‘flakey’ traits too.

Humour aside, in our defence, we have been brought up in a similar dog eat dog world as previous generations except with different rules, digital weapons and a huge lack of real role models. We have been indoctrinated into using every opportunity to “Brand Ourselves” but a lot of us don’t really understand what that really means. I’m so thankful that I have watchful parents that have kept my feet on the ground!

 

Over and Out.

The Siren's Tale

Born into the Millennial generation, I can’t say I truly fit all the traits falling beneath this generational code. Generational traits are often spread through a blanketed approach for anyone falling beneath the allotted birth years. But what happens when generations are decades stretched apart, especially in modern times when life itself changes by the year, nevermind the attitudes and attributes of generations?

You’re categorized with people who share no common traits, attributes, morals, or ethics.

The differences between 1980’s Millennials and 1990’s / 2000’s Millennials are unnerving. Through working with teenagers and having unfortunate forced societal interactions with younger Millennials, the one word that comes to mind at the end of the interaction: horrified. Horrified for how children are being raised, and horrified for our country’s future.

Instead of accepting this conglomerate of Millennials, I prefer to view the Millennial generation as cutting off at 1989. For children…

View original post 521 more words

For the love of Ganesh… ImageOfTheWeek.

For the love of Ganesh... ImageOfTheWeek.

One of Topman’s latest from the Summer 2013 range, is this basic Men’s tee displaying Ganesh, the Hindu deity of Knowledge. However, how many people who buy this tee will know this? How many will understand the background to this image?

Throughout the 21st Century, religious symbols/images have been commercialised and mass produced. The Christian Cross is a prime example of this. You’re not a rock star if you aren’t seen sporting a Cross Pendant… even Bollywood actors have started accessorising, regardless of their religion. This will always be controversial and will always have people on both sides saying it is either blasphemy or just freedom of expression. However, the point I wish to make, free from a religious point of view on my part, is that of Corporate Responsibility.

One defense of this view, would be that of cultural appropriation – adoption of a culture by another culture. However, here, we would be getting into a messy web of differences between culture and religion. Should Ganesh’s image be printed on an item of Indian clothing, then yes, you could say it is cultural appropriation. However, this tee is a modern item of clothing.

So why do I think this is a case of Corporate Responsibility? Because this level of controversy acts against a “regulation of social good” that businesses should ethically adhere to.  I put it in the same basket as Primark selling kid’s padded bikinis. Nothing can really stop it, but it’s just not right.

To me, this tee shirt is a symbol of a religion. Wearing it requires the respect of the traditions and values held by that religion. Mass-producing this image onto a mainstream item of clothing, to me, effectively diminishes the meaning behind it. Although the UK is multi-cultural, it is not yet socially aware enough to be ready for this type of commercialisation. It won’t be long until you see young people wearing it while obliviously eating a beefy Big Mac. This wouldn’t be out of direct disrespect, but out of a lack of knowledge and appreciation. It is about as socially aware as a person, wearing a peace sign t-shirt, casually car-jacking

On a practical note, I don’t think that the tee will do that well and feel that it is a terrible addition to the summer line. After showing the image to many of my friends, the general response has been, “..but who would wear that, though?”. Stick to the retro look, Topman.

Over and Out.

Shiny Happy People… ImageOfTheWeek.

Shiny Happy People... ImageOfTheWeek.

I found this today, on Buzzfeed (click on the pic to read the article): ‘No, Seriously, This Guy Is Holding A “You Deserve Rape” Sign’

For a bit of context: “A University of Arizona student [Dean Saxton] sparked outrage Tuesday by holding up a sign reading, “You Deserve Rape” and preaching that women who dress like “whores” bring rape upon themselves in protest to a sexual assault awareness event being held that night.” – Buzzfeed.com

The awareness event in question was “Reclaim the Night“. In a nutshell, this event is a brilliant movement of Women reclaiming their right to safety on the streets, protesting against the idea that they should feel scared and intimidated to go out at night.

Back to the picture in question… It is quite hard for one to explain how they feel about such an image. The first words that sprung to my mind were ‘angry’, ‘upset’ but also, unfortunately, ‘not surprised’. Many of the arguments about gender equality are pretty self explanatory and obvious in this context, however, I think a few points specific points need to made here.

Firstly, this is a universal attack. Not only is this image/campaign an attack  on Women, but it is also insinuating that Men believe that they have the right to rape based on the actions of the Woman. Furthermore, this is an implicit attack on Male character, assuming that men are unable to control their sexual capacity. In a patriarchal society that dictates how Women should act/dress, surely these are indications of a repression? What is even worse, is that it doesn’t even take into account the real reasons for rape. Most of the time, it isn’t even about Sex, but about assertion of male dominance, a struggle for power and issues that are a whole different “kettle of fish”.

Secondly, after reading one of the passages from Saxton’s blog, it occurred to me that this Christian extremist is mixing up two very different issues – That of Rape and Sexual Violence, and that of Sexual Liberation. He refers to the American Greek-life culture as a “whoredom” where young men and women are committing “sins” however this is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ISSUE about sexual behaviour, and more specifically, college culture for young people.  This isn’t an issue about men criminally forcing sex onto dis-consenting Women.  Yes, I agree that there can be some overlap in these environments whereby peer pressure and intoxicants can blur the lines of consent, however, this is not Saxton’s arguement. He is insinuating that if a woman engages in pre-marital sex, than it is inevitable that men may want to rape her – this is a disgusting belief and one similar to the justifications made by the Dehli gang-rapists for the crimes against their 19 year-old victim.

Thirdly, I will make a point regarding “issue-overlap”. As with many extreme views, single prejudices against gender, sexuality, race, religion, class do not really exist. These factors are interlocked and have been throughout history. The only difference in the 21st Century, is the increasing voice that minority groups have in the globalised era. Saxton states that “fat lesbians will get raped”, putting them in the same camp as Feminists and whores. Why is it that one’s weight and sexuality determines whether they get raped? Does your own prejudice permit you to believe that those different to you deserve to be subject to the worst forms of violence? Where does this end? Do other religious groups deserve this same fate?

Lastly, I would just like to express how unfortunate it is that these views are being expressed in today’s world, and worse, that free speech protects these views. All types of inequality stem from extremist views such as the ones held by the man who produced this image. More to the point, he is arguing that rape is okay and his university paper saw it fit to publish it. This view has no place in a publication and no place in any society.

Over and Out.

A story shared by the social enterprise, GiveMeTap. ImageOfTheWeek

A Story shared by the social enterprise, GiveMeTap.

Click on the picture to discover what GiveMeTap are about!

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”

We are taught in the West to look after ourselves and that it is a “dogeatdog” world. Ideologies matter!

Over and out.