I am vulnerable, so what?

1‘I am artistic, not an artist’, said a friend who has been painting for a pretty good time.

“Why?” I asked.

“Everyone is so confident and self-assured these days that it scares me. I am not so sure of myself and I feel better that way”.

This sat me thinking. Are we actually as confident and sure of ourselves as we portray?

Do we feel that being humble, a little vulnerable or little unsure is a sign of being weak?

We all love to be experts and specialists and there is nothing wrong with it. We work hard to attain knowledge and experience in our domains.

But why are we obsessed with stability, surety and perfection?

  1. It keeps us in control of situations: I invited a senior Professor of Engineering for a Faculty Development Program. The revered academician said, “I love a class which asks questions I can’t answer. But I definitely attempt it and generally we reach a solution.”

His most valuable advice was, “Discard your notes (it was not the Power Point era a decade ago) once you come out of your class”.

When you repetitively teach your class using the same notes, same slides, you have a phenomenal mastery over the content and immaculate control over the class.

Don’t delete the whole presentation, don’t discard all the content and make it completely chaotic in the beginning. At least, keep some time for genuine exploration where you collectively search new grounds or discuss unquestioned possibilities.

Can we come out of the garb of being an expert who knows it all and humbly wear a facilitator’s hat who is ready to dive deep into the domain?

An improvised lesson could be better than a revised one.

Can we allow a little window of newness to open in our self-assured, controlled lives?

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  1. We want to be perceived as perfect: I cannot forget the book launch of my second book titled “Why woman are, what they are? In 2005, Nandita Das released the book to a packed auditorium. I was to speak about my journey writing that book, before her. She had prepared a nice speech which she showed to me before the event.

When I started speaking, I talked about various experiences during writing that book and it overwhelmed me to an extent that I spoke and wiped my tears all along. With a choked throat, I thanked various amazing women and men whom I valued. I finished after fifteen minutes. Thankfully, there was no fear of smudging the eyeliner or peeling of foundation as I didn’t wear any make-up.

I poured my soul in the speech and didn’t realise that I was being watched by more than five hundred people around me.

There was a big round of applause that I did not hear but saw later in the video recording. However, that is not important. When Nandita came on microphone, she kept the prepared papers aside and spoke from her heart.

I can feel the happiness of those moments vividly even after a decade because we did what we truly felt. We did not care about how we will be perceived by others.

Crying or making it emotional does not make it authentic, letting go of your fear to be perfect does.

There is a thin line between being authentic and playing it to the gallery which only we can know.

We must experience some absolutely pure moments in our lives where we don’t belong to anyone, anything but ourselves, without pretence and ego.

Such moments keep us happy in our skin and prompt us to take our lives less seriously.

Share such moments where you connected completely with yourself ignoring the ‘controlled freak’ or ‘perfectionist’ in you.

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go & Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha & Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

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Are you a woman on top? – Say good bye to Glass Ceiling, Labyrinth and Goldberg Paradigm.

Acid Attack Vittim

Various studies, numerous researches and several surveys over decades have concluded that gender discrimination exists at work places.

In 1986, the Wall Street Journal’s Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt said that even those few women who rose steadily through the ranks eventually crashed into an invisible barrier. They named it a glass ceiling, which denied access to top positions to women.

In 1968, Philip Goldberg did a study where student participants evaluated identical essays except for the attached male or female name. The students did not know that other students had received identical essays ascribed to a writer of the other sex.

The study demonstrated that women received lower grades unless the topic was feminine one. The Goldberg paradigm holds good even now when female authors use masculine names like J.K. Rowling or E.L. James. I am not implying that they are read because of their names but I am surely implying that these women were not sure of their success with feminine names.

In 2007, Alice H. Eagly from Northwestern University and Linda L. Carli from Wellasley College likened the journey of women leaders to a labyrinth. As labyrinth is complex, but it is possible to strive and reach the centre, similarly women who aspire for top can reach after crossing twists and turns on the way.

When I see a Shikha Sharma or a Sheryl Sandberg, I don’t wish to believe in any ceiling or labyrinth. But all my confidence topples when I watch this video of acid attack victims. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2D8duxKFVig)

I keep sitting, brooding, crying for a few minutes after watching it. Then, I clench my fists, wipe my tears, nod and smile sternly. Women bounce back with fierce resolve. Women face it all but don’t give up.

Call us emotional or erratic (Thank You President Richard Nixon), give us less wages, delayed promotions or throw acid on us, we will lead ourselves.

We might be branded as too ambitious or too lenient, we will keep striving to figure out our authenticity.

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!