With the increase in professional women presenting for therapy, I’ve developed what I call the ‘GLAM Quotient’ to assist working women reach their full potential.
GLAM is an acronym that stands for Grace, Leadership, Authenticity and Mindfulness — four concepts that I believe are essential to attaining a balance and preventing burnout.
We live in a time when women have accomplished so much. We have more choices than we’ve ever had, but somehow our lives are more stressful than ever. There is pressure from all sides. We want to be perfect mothers, but with it being almost impossible to survive on a single income, both parents work to ensure their children are well-provided for. As our careers take off, our biological clocks begin to tick and it almost seems like something has got to give. While roles may be changing, women still tend to be the primary caregivers. Society seems to expect it of us.
So, where does GLAM fit in?
I always say that women can do anything men can do…and in high heels. We live in a time where anything is within our reach, but in order to compete with men, why should be try to be like men? It makes more sense to use strengths that men don’t have…we need to be proud of and capitalise on our feminine qualities. Be graceful…maintain your natural disposition to be kind, helpful and caring. You don’t have to wear a power suit in the boardroom. Be yourself! If you like wearing pretty dresses, then so be it — if you do your job well enough, there’s nothing more to prove. You will always be remembered for the way you treat people. Whether it’s the CEO, a car guard or cleaner…share a smile and a kind word wherever you go. The good you send out into the world will eventually return to you.
There are many books and theories on leadership. My view is that remarkable leadership begins with a vision. We need to clearly envision our goals and be so passionate about it that the rest of your team feels as motivated to work towards these goals. To be a phenomenal leader, you need to lead by example. Whether it’s your children at home or your team at work, display the behaviour you would like them to emulate. A remarkable leader identifies the strengths in her team and reminds each person of his or her strengths. By making others feel good about themselves, you give them the confidence to perform better, thus leading to more positive outcomes.
Surprisingly, I see more grown women trying to fit in and fall prey to peer pressure, than I see teenagers these days. It’s a sad reality, but at a time when women are meant to be confident to make their own decisions, many feel pressured to live up to certain ideals and expectations. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that by being authentic — by having the confidence to be yourself even if goes against popular culture — your circle will become smaller. It’s not because there is anything wrong with you, but because you will begin to respect yourself enough to distance yourself from people who don’t make you feel valued. People who are insecure about themselves will always find a reason to pick on you or make you feel bad about some aspect of your life. Don’t let this deter you from being who you truly are. Being authentic means that you are able to speak your mind, dress the way you feel most comfortable, engage in activities you enjoy, etc., without being bothered about whether its what’s trending at the moment. As a mother, remember that you have children who will do as you do — not as you say — so be wary of the type of behaviour you display. In a world with so many choices, where you can be anything, always choose to be yourself.
With roots in Buddhism, Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of stress, anxiety and depression. Juggling so many roles and responsibilities, our minds are often running wild — thinking, planning, worrying… Mindfulness basically means focusing your mind on the present moment. We can’t change the past, and by focusing too much on it, we may become depressed. Worrying about the future is futile as we cannot be certain that we will live to see that. Excessive worry about the future can lead to extreme anxiety. All we can control is the present moment. So whatever you are doing, focus on it wholeheartedly — use as many of your senses as you can to ground you in the moment. Whether you are enjoying a cup of tea, going for a walk or having a conversation with your children, try to be completely present and eliminate distractions. Technology has become one of the biggest distractions in our lives. When you are interacting with your family, set your phone aside and show your family that they are more important than anything on your phone. Meditation is a useful exercise to keep you grounded in the present. If you find this too hard, some equally useful techniques are breathing exercises and adult colouring books. Having this quiet time, helps you reflect on how you are feeling and to identify possible signs of burnout. While as women we may have been raised to be self-sacrificing, to put everyone’s needs before our own, we need to remember that if we are not completely nourished, we cannot possibly take care of others.
So, if you want to be a great mother, CEO, employee, wife, daughter, etc…it begins with taking care of YOU…it begins with GLAM!
Rakhi Beekrum is a psychologist in Durban, South Africa.
Originally published at medium.com