To be Ambitious is a Great Thing.
About 2 months ago, I shared this sentence with the 22 selected female participants at the launch of the Lean In Career Programme, an 8-week career programme developed by Asia Women Circle and Leadapreneur.
Because you see… Ambition is believing in yourself and in your abilities. Ambition is our drive. Ambition is the HUNGER we feel to create something greater than ourselves. Ambition is like the fuel that feeds a fire, and the stars that lighten up the sky. It’s what makes us shine bright, and burn with desire. Ambition is what enables you & I to become our own version of what it means to be successful.
I think we can all agree that to have “ambition” is important, for men & women, to grow, to be successful, and to advance the world we live in. But for many different reasons which I’m still trying to understand, the word “ambition”, when combined with the word “woman” feels somewhat disconcerting for many in our societies, whether you’re in Malaysia, Switzerland or Brazil. As a woman, if you choose to prioritize your career, you’re seen to “selfish”. If you lead, you’re called “bossy”. And if you raise your voice, you’re being “aggressive”. Why is “ambition” incompatible with being feminine? My lean in pledge was to marry the 2; ambition & women, and it is what inspired me to champion the Lean In Career Programme. Because to be ambitious is a great thing.
I am so proud, and honoured, to have witnessed over the past 8 weeks 22 female professionals harness their ambitions to lean in. Through a highly sophisticated process & innovative methodologies, powered by Leadapreneur ;-) the Lean In Career Programme focused on enabling the participants to actually achieve their career goals instead of talking about them. Earlier this morning some of you witnessed 22 women share how they leaned in to achieve what they thought was impossible. They gained clarity and confidence to lead, negotiating for higher salaries, earn promotions, start new companies & build ideas, better teams, relationships & movements. Every one of their stories is united by the fact that they awakened their ambition and they chose to do something great for themselves. With a 0% drop out rate and a 100% mentor retention rate, these women and their Lean In stories are a true testimony of what it means to be ambitious. Their stories spoke for themselves and proved that we can achieve greatness when we choose to pursue our ambitions. Ladies, I salute you and your courage. Thank you for inspiring me to believe that to be ambitious is a great thing.
Ladies & gentlemen, we need to change the stereotype of what it means to be an “ambitious woman”. Because I believe ambition is not a dirty word. Ambition is a great word. It is an AMAZING word. It’s is a sexy word. A word you use to build your future. And so if we want to empower women to harness their potential, we need to empower them to be ambitious. I urge each one of you to ask yourselves “what is your great ambition?” That’s a big question. What is it in your life you think you cannot accomplish yet you yearn to achieve?... Or what is it that people have said that you cannot do?... Wouldn’t it feel really good to prove them all wrong? Wouldn’t it feel better to prove yourself right? And to stop standing in the shadow & to step into the light. YOUR light.
Imagine this… What would happen if we were all brave enough to believe in our own abilities & to awaken the fire of being ambitious? I think we would live in a better world. Because to be ambitious is to announce to the world that it is your time to shine. Seize it, live it, become it. Breath the fire of your ambition, awaken your soul & become great. Greatness lies in all of us; we’re just waiting for the chance to release it. So I say to you: your time is now. This is not the end, this is the beginning of your time to shine.
Ladies, this is your time. Believe in yourself. Be bold. Be brave. Be Brilliant. Build a better world.
Jessica Macias <3
Promoting the Lean In Career Programme, an 8-week journey to empower driven & ambitious women
to accelerate their careers. This was right before it all started...
At the various Mid-week Networking Evenings where the participants, mentors, trainers and Lean In Committee
re-connected, re-focused and re-energized to pursue their ambitions.
On top right, participants met with their respective mentors (top senior executives) every week.
The first batch of the amazing wonder women who graduated from the Lean In Career Programme
at the inaugural ‘Lean In Tournament’, hosted at Mindvalley's Hall of Awesomness.
Your mindset is the lens through which you see the world.
Your mindset is created by combining your different beliefs about the world into one unified belief-system. The purpose of a mindset is to help you filter the information in the world to be more effective at understanding your reality and operating within it. Everyone has a mindset because everyone has beliefs about the world.The management mindset is the worldview that the organisation is a machine that must be optimised. It is based on 5 beliefs:
According to the management mindset, change is successfully ‘managed’ when there is stability, people are following the plan, efficiency is maximised, mistakes eliminated and risk is minimised. However, this mindset creates a culture of complacency within managers and organisations that they are ‘controlling change’ when in fact all they are doing is creating an artificial reality bubble. The management mindset creates the internal illusion that ‘we are ok’ because we are managing things and a culture of complacency and comfort emerges. This lays the foundation for what Hoverstadt calls ‘the death spiral’, an organisation’s deadly descent into crisis.
In the death spiral, the cult of management has created a complacent organisation that is comfortable in its place in the market. For example, in 2007, BlackBerry was very comfortable in the niche it had created for itself as the leading smartphone manufacturer. It failed to detect and take seriously the changes that the iPhone and Android systems created. As these new products exploded into the marketplace, Blackberry suddenly faced a crisis as it was unprepared to compete with the iPhone. Management felt like they were no longer in control of the situation and needed to ‘do something’ to regain control. Instead of a thoughtful strategic response, management rushed the Blackberry Storm to the marketplace. This inferior product was a disaster with nearly 100% of the Storms being returned and most of these customers switching to Apple. As the crisis deepened, management resorted to more quick fixes which meant they missed the even bigger shift in the market which was from Gen X business customers to Gen Y consumers. For a brief moment, BlackBerry messenger was the coolest thing in town but management understood this strategic shift too late and failed to capitalise on it because they were too busy fighting the fires created by their complacency. By now, BlackBerry was rapidly becoming irrelevant as its competitors quickly gained market share making it harder and harder for BlackBerry to stage a comeback. This descent into irrelevance is the final stage of the death spiral and today BlackBerry is a shadow of its once dominant position.
The management mindset is fatal for organisations because it creates a deadly complacency towards complex change. What specifically kills the organisation is that it takes too long for it to respond to the shock of unexpected change. By the time Blackberry had some idea of what was happening and was formulating a strategic response Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, One Plus etc. had already captured the market and were far ahead in their development cycles.
What should Blackberry have done? They should never have become complacent in the first place. By the time Apple launched the iPhone Blackberry’s destiny was largely set because it did not have the internal capacity to change fast enough. Blackberry should have been seeking to aggressively deploy advanced technology like the iPhone (which it could have developed) before its competitors. By disrupting itself, it would have prevented others from creating the disruption. A key issue is that management fails to understand how bad their organisation is at change. They think that issuing the command to ‘be more innovative’ instantly translates into more innovation. This is a hallmark feature of the management mindset which believes it can ‘command the machine(organisation) to do its bidding’. As most managers know , this is simply not true; innovation does not come from diktats.
In short, the management mindset kills organisations because its leaders take too long to formulate an effective response to the massive shock of unexpected change. While they are trying to work out what is actually happening and formulate an appropriate response, the upstart competitors are blazing away leaving the incumbent far behind. The competitors grow much faster than you can change and therefore you become irrelevant long before you ‘fix’ yourself. This happened to Kodak (replaced by Go Pro), Intel (replaced by Qualcomm) and nearly happened to IBM (who were basically killed by Microsoft but just managed to pivot into another industry).
The answer is to stop trying to manage change and instead move to a new paradigm of ‘leading agile innovation’ and I will examine that in more detail in my next post.