Here’s What You Can Learn from ‘How Women Rise’ by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith

How Women Rise is an easy-to-read and useful map to finding your way through the maze of self-sabotage or self-defeat. It’s a helpful guide to helping you realise and change some of the habits that hold you back from rising.

What habits are holding you back?

The book does not ignore the fact that there are many external factors that can stand in your way, and it also does not fail to acknowledge that many of the habits are also found in men. It also explains and solves the problem of getting stuck, identifying where you are and what can help you move forward, as well as resisting change.

How Women Rise

It identifies 12 habits that keep women from reaching their goals and comes up with ways to change them. Some are related but have different roots and have different consequences.

Habit 1: “Reluctance to Claim Your Achievements.”

The focus here is on keeping your head down and shrinking into yourself in order to avoid coming off as ‘obnoxious’. Among the solutions offered there’s the ‘art of self-promotion’, which entails being bold enough to sell yourself effectively.

Habit 2: “Expecting Others to Spontaneously Notice and Reward Your Contributions.”

This shows how this behaviour can be self-sabotaging and how your hard work can end up being overlooked. It’s better to take a proactive approach and take the responsibility of saying what it is you’re doing, accomplishing and where you’d like to be.

Habit 3: “Overvaluing Expertise.”

If you invest all your energies on mastering every detail of the job you have then you are really working hard to keep that job. This will not help you if you’re trying to position yourself for an opportunity for the next level.

Habit 4: “Building Rather Than Leveraging Relationships.”

While building relationships is great, it doesn’t mean leveraging relationships means you’re a self-serving person. This section helps you realise how leveraging works, how forming healthy win-win relationships will contribute to your professional success.

Habit 5: “Failing to Enlist Allies from Day One.”

When starting a new position, keeping your head down until you’ve mastered the details so that you’re fully prepared will not help you. It can help to reach out and connect with people – create allies. You’ll learn about the importance of allies, mentors, sponsors, and more.

Habit 6: “Putting Your Job before Your Career.”

If you’ve worked so hard to get to a certain position, only to find yourself stuck there for ages then you may be busy putting so many efforts in the position you have that you may have neglected to work on the position you want. Be aware of the loyalties you have that keep you from moving up and learn how to have a healthy self-interest.

Habit 7: “The Perfection Trap.”

This is about wanting to get every detail right and being hard on yourself because you don’t want to mess up. This section highlights the cost of perfectionism and how to rather, healthily, deliver excellent results by learning to do things such as delegating and taking measured risks.

Habit 8: “The Disease to Please.”

Here you’ll check your habit of wanting to be a nice and wonderful person in all circumstances and always make everyone around you feel good, which is impossible. You’ll learn about curing your chronic ‘pleasing disease’ and how to focus on your priorities.

Habit 9: “Minimizing.”

This habit is about making yourself smaller or taking a seat at the back just so that you can always acknowledge the existence of others. This will help break the habit of physically and metaphorically shrinking yourself, undermining your abilities, and believing that others are more deserving than you.

Habit 10: “Too Much.”

You may be called “too much”- too emotional, too intense, or too enthusiastic, and may end up getting into the habit of repressing your feelings. This section will guide you to finding value in your emotions, harnessing them, and making them work for you.

Habit 11: “Ruminating.”

The focus here is on clinging to the past and focusing on dissecting past mistakes. This leads to a lot of self-blame, agonizing over things that may have set you back have already passed. You’ll learn how to break free from this negative position and how to move on.

Quote from ‘How Women Rise’

Habit 12: “Letting Your Radar Distract You.”

Your ability to notice a lot of things at once may be a strength but it has its downsides. Your focus may also be going to unhelpful distractions and have negative effects such as being hyper-aware of other people’s reactions that you may end up ruminating, shrinking, or being hard on yourself.

The above habits come with helpful tools to mitigate them. It’s a smooth read, nothing complicated or hard to follow. I’m pretty sure there will definitely be at least one habit that you associate with and this book will help you make a difference.

Cheers!

Goldsmith, M, Helgesen S. How Women Rise. 2018. Penguin Random House UK.

My Reading Journey (Part 2) – How My Reading Evolved

From Catherine Cookson to Napoleon Hill.

I previously shared how I got into reading in Part 1 and mentioned some of the titles I started out with when I was a young reader. Here, I continue with my reading journey and show you how my book preferences and reading habits have changed over time.

When I was young I loved fiction and my selection of what to read was just random. My taste was dictated by what was available and so I enjoyed books by authors like Catherine Cookson, Sidney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, Eric van Lustbader, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, and Jonathan Kellerman, because they dominated our bookshelf.

There wasn’t much African fiction, they weren’t as available in libraries either. In addition to the two I previously mentioned, Marabi Dance and Kaffir Boy, I only remember Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. The stories I fed on were therefore, predominantly American and British. The few books in my mother tongue, Setswana, were only accessible in the classroom.

Setswana books

When I reached high school I was introduced to Bessie Head’s Maru and George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the only prescribed reading material for English. I instantly fell in love with Head and to date, I’ve probably read Maru more than ten times.

Except for nursery rhymes (it is poetry), I only entered the world of poetry in high school. Mending Wall by Robert Frost and Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, were our staples. I hated poetry and I didn’t do well in it either.

I had my school reading and books at home but my curiosity about the world added other kinds of reading. I used to visit our public libraries to read the most random books and on the most random topics, such as studies on Haemophilia, the male reproductive system (don’t ask), social psychology and about scientists like Isaac Newton, Dmitri Mendeleev, John Dalton and Galileo Galilei. There was no research or school projects on these type of books and topics, but pure curiosity.

It was when I got to university that the world of books expanded for me. The UCT Library became my haven. By the third year, just before I dropped out, I was at the library instead of lectures. That was where I discovered a cornucopia of reading pleasures and in that, I finally found African books. I found Es’kia Mphahlele, Nadine Gordimer, Dambudzo Marechera, Chinua Achebe and Buchi Emecheta. I fell in love with African stories, finally. Why had I been deprived of these beautiful and rich literary texts before?  

I already wanted to be a writer and had already dropped out of Accounting even though I was still showing up on campus, mainly for the library and the beer at the UCT Club. After dropping out and while sleeping on a friend’s couch, I met her roommate, a shitty English major student who ridiculed my lack of knowledge on English classics, which he referred to as “true and pure literature.” Fuck him! But as much as I hated the insecurity he planted in my head and wanted to dismiss it, I desperately went on a search for these books that I’d fail at becoming a writer if I didn’t read. The first were Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, followed by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and then George Eliot’s Simon Marner.

I enjoyed them very much but the actual author who took my spark for writing and turned it into an intense flame, filling my head with passion and possibility was Fyodor Dostoevsky. When I first read Notes from Underground I knew I had found my path. Writing, books, and words were what I wanted to consume and produce, for the rest of my life. Then I read Crime and Punishment and the literary world became home.

While chasing my dream of becoming a fiction writer I also discovered poetry that would create a deep love for the genre. I read Miss Maya Angelou and I was hooked. She had me with Phenomenal Woman, I was sold. Then I read Tupac’s The Rose that Grew from Concrete and Langston Hughes’s poems. I fell in so deep that I tried my hand at it and published my own collection, Poetically Ghetto. Another topic for another day.

I was still reading strictly fiction and poetry until in my early twenties when I met my now husband, who only read non-fiction. We influenced each other’s preferences and shortly after we met he was reading David Baldacci and I was collecting a lot of books by the likes of Stephen Covey, Robert Kiyosaki, Robin Sharma, Robert Greene and Napoleon Hill.

And so began a vigorous journey into extensive reading, and intensive self-education.

“A teacher can kindle your mind and let you memorize information, but true education is often self-education.”
― Debasish Mridha