About Audrey Ezekwesili
Audrey Ezekwesili is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Business Change Management registered Practitioner with over 20 years corporate experience from public and private sectors. She is the author of the books "Developing People - Top 10 tips for New and Middle Managers" and "Behind Every Successful Woman is...the good, the bad and the mundane that women navigate through to succeed"
She is a Change and Transformation Director at Facilitate4Me.
Behind Every Successful Woman is…..The Good, The Bad, and the Mundane that Women navigate through to succeed
5 key messages from the book:
It is virtually a given that behind every successful man is a woman – wife, mother, grandmother, sister or daughter. Such is the power of the mantra. Ask anyone however what is behind every successful woman and you get……… a range of suggestions depending on the gender of the person being asked, how they are feeling on that particular day and who they are using as a reference for a successful woman. In my book, BESW, I put forward a light – hearted exploration of the good, the bad and the mundane circumstances that everyday women navigate through to succeed. The 5 key messages are:
1.Be brutally honest with yourself
Be honest with yourself as to what success means to you, regardless of whether others approve or whether they see it as an ‘unrealistic’ dream. Be very clear about what you want, what is important to you and why this is important to you. The ‘why’ is especially crucial because this will ensure that you remain on course when all the guaranteed obstacles and distractions come your way. It will also help you to make informed decisions on what you are prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goals and the trade-offs that you will occasionally make en route. Furthermore, it will stop you from being envious of other women who have travelled a different path to you and who have achieved their definition of success. Having it all, means having the “it” that is important to you.
2.Accept that you have choices and options, and own it!
Now that you are clear as to what success means to you and the boundaries of what you are prepared to do to get it (i.e. the trade-offs), you need to know the various routes to getting there. There is always more than one route and more than one option, and each will have its own pros and cons. Just as when you get into a car to drive and set your destination into your satnav, it will generally give you more than one option to arriving at your destination and tell you the differences between the two routes – such as traffic disruptions and journey time differences. You should adopt this mindset when defining the routes to your goals. Although these routes are typically called plans, the ethos is still the same. Define your plans. Be clear on the choice of routes that you can take and re-assess constantly.
3.Resources, Obstacles and Distractions are everywhere
Your path to success will most definitely be littered with all sorts of circumstances and influences. Some will be good, some will be bad and others will be mundane, but so what? Everyone has their own circumstances to deal with. So, be comforted in the fact that the bad and the mundane are not conspiracies specifically designed to just trip you up; you aren’t that special! The women who have succeeded have done so in-spite of these things. Resources, obstacles and distractions are everywhere and you can make them work for you, if you:
Are alert and learn to differentiate between the resources (“the Good”), the obstacles (“the Bad”) and distractions (“the Mundane”) on your routes.
Understand the resources that are allies, such as supportive men (Chap 1), mentors (Chap 2) and good Samaritans (Chap 7) and learn how to authentically engage with these allies to propel your success and minimise the impact of the obstacles.
Always remember that most obstacles and distractions aren’t show stoppers, but merely irritations to slow you down and test the veracity of your “whys” and the strength of your determination. Everyone has these distractions – don’t give up (Chap 3).
4.Speak Up, all the time and every time
Remember when you were small and your parents and teachers always used to urge you to speak up whenever you wanted something? Well, this advice hasn’t gone out of fashion. If you want to achieve your brand of success, you must speak up in a variety of ways:
In your own words – Do not fall into the trap of letting your work speak for itself. Guess what? It doesn’t. It has no mouth.
In your own thoughts and beliefs – because your thoughts start a chain of reactions and actions which manifest in results. We really do become what we think and believe (Chap 10).
In your appearance and how you market and package your yourself. We all judge a book by its cover, so make sure that your cover says exactly what you want it to say (Chap 6)
In your behaviours and actions. We need to be kinder to ourselves (Chaps 11, 12 & 18) and to other women (Chaps 2, 13 &15).
No matter where you are, no matter what has happened to you in the past and no matter what you think of yourself, if you can picture a successful you, you can achieve your success. Your picture needs to be a bolder version of you. So:
Be “unrealistic” and audacious. As long as its legal (of course), there really is no need to conform. Besides, what is “unrealistic” these days anyway (Chap 4)?
Dream big and take action. Reject the desire to wait for perfection. Perfection is one of many vices (Chap 19) that derail us. Rebuke this. The key is to start, and keep your eyes open to the many resources (see no 3 above) that can help you.
Be thick skinned and resilient. There are naysayers at every corner (Chap 16) and not all their advice is well meaning. Thank them anyway and move on.
Be hungry to learn and develop yourself. There are no shortages of opportunities to learn from others (Chaps 1 & 2), to graciously accept help from others (Chap 7) or to work hard on yourself (Chaps 8 &9). Better to be a “work in progress” than a “has been”.
‘Do You’- Sure, we have grown up with and been conditioned to, a lot of unconscious biases about what we can and can’t do. Equally sure is that there are a lot of unfair stereotypical labels (Chap 17) given to women who have dared to overcome said biases to pursue success. You don’t have to buy into the stereotypes and you certainly don’t need to buy into the expectation that women need to abandon female characteristics/strengths in favour of male ones, in order to become successful.
Act consistently confident- even when you are not feeling it. When you see the progress you have made on your actions and your plans, and the resources that you have at your disposal, your confidence will become a self-fulfilling prophecy (Chap 14).
Be fearless… or at the very least, be ‘fear unfriendly’. What is the worst that can happen… and what makes you think that you can’t handle it? When you handled all the other things that you feared before, did you have two heads back then? Trust your ability to do it again (Chap 20). Click here to buy from Amazon
The Behind Every Successful Woman (BESW) programme for women compliments the book, promotes an alignment of women’s career and personal goals and delivers much needed performance improvements, in the core challenges that women face. Call for more details.
Developing People: Top 10 tips for New and Middle Managers