Monday, May 07, 2012

What would you do if you were not afraid ?

Over the past few months I have given some though to work life balance, woman at work and as I was hearing this Sheryl Sandberg talk today I finally decided to start putting down these thoughts in words. A lot more posts to follow on this as my thoughts progress.

Disclaimer - I really dnt agree with all of what Sheryl says, its just that it triggered a train of thoughts in me and I decided to write about it , most of these thoughts here are my ideas which may not really agree with what she says.

Here are a couple of things she said which got me thinking -

1) Woman quit long before they actually quit
We start making less ambitious choices even before we have actually started doing the required job , we somehow believe that it will take a lot from us and we will not be able to manage work life balance when we get to a bigger spot in the company. This in itself prevents us from getting to a spot where we will challenged enough or one that we believe we deserve to be at . Given this we end up at positions which are less suitable than the positions that we believed we deserved and hence the choice to quit becomes a lot more easier because we no longer feel challenged by the job or the position that we are at.

2) What would you do if you were not afraid ?
This I think holds for each one of us . Some of us are afraid of our jobs because we think we might not have the capacity , some of us are afraid of quitting the wrong jobs because we are afraid of not finding another one, some of us are afraid of asking for a raise or a job that you think you deserve because we think we will be berated for having asked for that.

I am turning into a big believer of questioning my everyday life choices that I make at my work place  and home. Questions like  -

1) Where do I work ?
Even though we tell ourselves we don't have much of choice in the jobs and people we land up with , that is wrong, with enough homework,trial and error you can call the shots on the place that you would like to work at.

2) How much time do I devote to my job ?
Is working long hours the only way of showing that I am devoted to my job ? What if I want to do a good job for 8 hours a day but then after that I want to devote time to my personal pursuits ?

3) Why do I choose to work long hours ?
Is it work pressure, my love for what I do or just because I don't have anything better to do with my time ?

4) Why do I  do my job ?
I see a lot of women these days do a job because they get a sense of identity and importance from the jobs they are at which they miss if they were to stay at home. But then if power and identity are our only reason for working then maybe we need to look at ourselves more deeply before we decide to work. Keeping track of the bigger picture is very important - how does me doing a good job impact the world around me ?

5) How do I deal with the pressures of a rat race ?
Sheryl Sandberg mentioned a very important thing, if you feel like you are caught in the rat race that might mostly be because you are not in the right job. To add to that I will say if you dnt have the right attitude you will feel the same way. If we are always trying to compete against the person sitting next to us, instead of just believing in what we do and trying to do a good job of it we might end up always having to be at the mercy of the rat race.

6) Work life balance
This happens to be my most favorite topics . How do you define work life balance ? Is it worth skipping meals, eating outside, working long hours, sleeping less to prove that you are a good employee?

People all around talk about how their jobs are stressful , there is a lot of talk about people not being able to handle the pressure, ambition, competition etc but what I find disappointing is that as a result of all of this we forget the basic reason for doing a job . We work to be able to produce something, something new, something useful and  worthwhile . Of course we need to do make money but then for most people I know we are at a stage where money is not the primary concerns.

And we need to think about these questions because even the most intelligent people in this world can create havoc in the world by working on jobs that they had no idea were causing the entire financial system to collapse.

Do I have answers to all of these questions ? Not at all , all I know is that I need to keep asking them because who knows someday I might actually have answers to some of these questions.


mexicanpacific said...

Sheryl Sandberg - she is infamously known for 'adapting' the marketing/ad strategy from Google into Facebook. Note that, I used a very soft word 'adapt' to convey the message :P

She was part of team or led the team of ADworks at google, a gadget that allowed Google to turn their search engine into extremely profitable business. One cannot associate all the profits FB reaped in after Sheryl joined to just the ad strategy alone that is 'inspired' from Google. Ofcourse every company is different and it takes a lot to drive the cultural change in any company. And this ad strategy is a huge cultural change for FB and Sheryl has driven that successfully in FB. She deserves all the accolades for that.

The bottom line is though the speech is inspiring, I guess the message between the lines, given the speakers career path, is you need to understand how to shift the gears (companies) at the right rpm (ladder/knowledge level). Therefore, Its a drag race (from 'Need for speed') NOT a rat race :D

Obviously you need to have the foot on the pedal to reach the right rpm first place :P Which she did, becoming a VP at google first place is something in itself. Then follows the drag race :)

mexicanpacific said...

Quoting my sources.... 'searchengine watch'

If there’s any question about her charge at Facebook, the answer lies in the Supernova Conference in San Francisco in 2007. Ms. Sandberg was featured in a Spotlight solo presentation.

Her topic: “Google cracked the code on monetizing search advertising. Where is advertising heading next?”