Women are not any different from men when it comes to what they learn from their mothers. But often the unique bond that daughters share with their mothers means that women are more likely to take their mothers’ advice and carry it forward in their lives.
Growing up, I was deeply influenced by my mother. The values she instilled in me – by education or by example – empowered me at every step of my personal and professional life, and molded me into the person I am today. And for that, I am grateful.
My mother was a remarkable person. She personified the motto “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”. She had lost her father at a young age which was challenging. True to her strong personality and enduring spirit, her journey, where she went on to lead a harmonious and successful life, was nothing short of inspiring.
I recall how my mother raised us girls with tremendous grit, teaching us to aspire to be everything we can be and to never give up. She infused in us the ability to look into the eye of the storm, take on whatever adversities life has to offer. She also taught us to face life with amazing wit and humor. Thanks to her, at a very early age, I began to view every aspect of my life as a learning experience – taking the bad with the good. This attitude has been instrumental in steering my career through the ups and downs. Over the years, I have learnt to face the trials with a zen-like attitude, yet, not to be carried away by success.
Children often learn the fundamental traits of empathy and respect from their parents – especially their mothers – just like how I learnt from mine. My mother’s ability to empathize and connect with people around her from different walks of life helped me view things from diverse perspectives, and replicate these invaluable traits in my corporate world. I learnt that everybody has a fascinating backstory to tell, if only you would care to listen. Through her own life, she taught me to respect people for who they are and for the outstanding qualities they embody.
Having watched my mother while growing up, and from my own experience as a mother, I have come to believe that women are natural multitaskers and caregivers juggling multiple roles and responsibilities. A woman’s definition of herself is holistic and well-rounded, as she proudly takes on the roles of a mother, a wife, a daughter, a professional and more. As a consequence, I see how women categorically excel at the balancing act between work and personal life, as well as key traits like time management, conflict resolution, and so on.
Women are also exceptionally talented in the separation of duties, knowing exactly where one role ends and the other begins. Whether at home or in the boardroom, women are impressive in their ability to acknowledge and accept others’ viewpoints objectively, even if they vastly differ from their own. This indeed forms the anatomy of a woman CEO.
As women leaders, we are not only responsible for building better workplaces where women are valued and nurtured, but we are also responsible for raising the next generation towards a gender-neutral world. Working mothers, no matter where they are in their career, tend to raise children who are responsible as youngsters. They raise daughters who are fiercely independent, and sons who treat women as their equals in every way – ipso facto, empowering them to become the best version they are meant to be.
Children of working women have the potential to see the world through the gender-neutral lens. They grow up witnessing how the roles of their parents are in fact interchangeable. The need to be independent, manage time, multitask and so on, are ingrained from a very young age. I see the same qualities in my son, and amazingly enough, he acquired them through observation; thoughtful education has very little to do with it. Children are astute learners!
Having said that, I have found women lagging in prioritizing themselves for personal development, upskilling, and networking. There are many reasons why women hold back from going all out in their careers. Predominant among these is the fear of their professional life overshadowing their domestic life.
As a mentor to all women professionals, my advice is – don’t ever hold back. Take your time, but never relent in your efforts to upgrade yourself, learn something new, and network outside of the workplace. Some of the best business expansion and development opportunities come from external sources! I also often stress on the fact that neither your life nor your career needs to follow a linear path. A lateral move is okay as long as it supports your short- or long-term needs, and enables you to continuously grow.