Every day, we are surrounded by images and individuals that remind us that we need more, need to have more and do more. In business, this pressure often comes from our competition.
Sometimes our competition can be intimidating. They can make us feel as though our ideas are too small or that we will never be as good.
However, it is not really our competition that is the issue here. It is our fear of reaching heights of greatness that we never thought of as possible.
Over-analyzing our competition can distract us from what we should be doing and where we should be going. We become accustomed to the falsehood that because someone else is winning, we must be losing.
Use competition to inspire and enlighten rather than disenchant yourself. Often those who see the most successful competitors in their industries as inspiration strive to do better in their own businesses.
Use your competitors as catalysts for change and sources of motivation. They are not there to limit your success. There are enough opportunities to succeed for all of us. At the end of the day, you need to compete with yourself and here are three reasons why it’s important.
1. It will stop you from comparing yourself to others
I think sometimes the anxiety that comes from seeing your competitors excel makes you question whether you are doing better than other people or not. What really matters is that you’re doing what’s best for you.
Do you feel like you are succeeding? Have you determined what success means to you?
2. It will keep you focused on your goals
If you stay focused on what you are doing, and your own journey, you will inevitably keep improving. Focus on your business goals will result in growing success.
The minute you take your eyes off your goal, you lose sight of why you started it all in the first place!
3. It will give your business the attention it deserves
Earlier, I wrote about how the devil was trying to drag me down with this curse they call inefficiency and being unproductive. As promised, I’m sharing three tricks I have used to get myself back on track.
1. To-do lists are wishlists if you don’t have deadlines
We all love to-do lists and know how important they are for keeping us on track. Most importantly, you get to buy a cute notebook to put them in. However, there’s a catch – for a to-do list to be effective, each task needs a deadline.
Deadlines are key. They help you prioritise. Tasks that have an earlier deadline should obviously be completed first. Writing that deadline in ink forces you to acknowledge this.
This strategy is particularly effective in making sure you get through all those boring tasks that you don’t want to do and end up putting off for weeks.
Anyone who has made this transition knows that the first thing you’ll notice is all the freedom you have. Mmm…doesn’t that air smell sweet?
#MotherlandMogul Tip: Unfortunately, freedom is a double-edged sword. The freedom to do whatever you want includes the freedom to wake up late, stay in your pajamas all day and generally chill a little too hard. Having firm and clear deadlines will help you avoid getting too relaxed and comfortable.
2. Delegation is the wurrrd
Being productive requires energy. Having energy requires a fresh mind. There’s a little something known as Decision Fatigue. This is one of those psychological terms that you NEED to know about.
In simple terms, decision fatigue refers to the idea that people make poor decisions after they’ve made a long series of decisions. Your ability to make good decisions is a lot like your willpower to say no to a tray of freshly baked cookies or fried puff-puff – it’s not an infinite resource.
This is why leaders like Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg wear the same thing every day. They don’t want to waste precious decision making juice on something as non-essential as their daily outfit.
What does this mean for you and your productivity? It means that to stay productive and get stuff done, you need to minimise the amount of decisions you make. This is where delegation comes in.
If there’s something that someone else on your team can do – hand it over, step away and let Jesus take the wheel. (Okay, that’s a bit of a joke. You still need to provide oversight – abi the Big Man only helps those who help themselves).
#MotherlandMogul Tip: Delegation allows you to free up all your juice for the stuff that really matters and focus on getting that done vs. doing a bunch of busy work, and then making yourself too tired to do the important stuff.
3. Find an accountability overlord
The problem with working for yourself is that you are only accountable to yourself. We’re human beings so it is natural to be a little too nice to yourself. Missed that deadline – girl you had bad cramps, it’s aiight!
Rescheduled that business development call – you’d already had two calls that day, you don tire sef! Missed your targets – um, if you don’t acknowledge it, it never happened, duh!
You need to find someone who is going to keep you accountable, and unfortunately your co-founder or partner is not good enough, sorry. Afua and I tried this out but found that it didn’t work.
An accountability overlord requires an element of shame. We know each other too well to be embarrassed if either of us dulls.
Our accountability overlord is called Jan. He’s an Africa-focused investor and used to be my older sister’s friend until I stole him. We have check in calls with him once every 3 weeks.
On those calls, we have a brief chat about what we’ve done over the last 3 weeks and compare it to what we said we would do in our last call. He also pushes us to make sure that all of the activities we’re doing are actually necessary and not just “busy work.”
Because Afua and I have a modicum of shame, neither of us likes to look like dullards on those calls so we make sure we get our work done. The 3 week cycle is long enough to actually run the business but not too long as to allow us to hide from our responsibilities.
For those of you who have investors or a board, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem – you’ve got enough hawks watching your back.
So there you have it. Three simple tricks to force yourself into becoming a productivity beast.
You want to be a boss. You dream of being the type of woman who is on her grind, building an empire and taking no prisoners. Chairman by M.I, I’m a Boss by Rick Ross, and Looku Looku by The Mavins are key songs in the playlist of your life.
There’s only one big problem – you think your partner might be a hater, #SwagDeflator – every #MotherlandMogul’s worst nightmare. One of the most critical factors that will impact your professional and entrepreneurial growth is your significant other. Having a partner who supports you is a godsend – their belief in your talents and dreams will have you thinking you’re Oprah 2.0 or the female Dangote-in-waiting. Having a partner who actively blocks your shine is the worst.
With this in mind, we, at She Leads Africa, have come up with a few tips to help you spot a partner who will support your #MotherlandMogul swag. They’ll be your very own Swag Assist.
1. Was his mum a hustler?
To start, you have to take it all the way to the beginning. Our families and childhoods have a huge influence on what we think our lives should look like when we become adults.
If a guy grew up with a mum who was always on her hustle, he’s more likely to see your hustle as normal and ordinary. Additionally, if his mum is a hustler herself, she’s more likely to tell him to chill if he starts complaining too much about your work schedule.
This isn’t to say that sons of stay-at-home mums will want you to do the same. But understand that it may take him some time to get used to your hustle.
2. How much gendered language does he use?
Any potential partner who uses words like “men’s work” or “women’s work” should raise red flags.
To be a #SwagAssist, a guy needs to have his own beliefs about gender norms not what society has told him. He needs to be comfortable sharing the work at home. For example, if you’re running late at the office, he should put the kids to bed.
If you have a big meeting the next day and don’t have time to cook dinner, he needs to be fine with that. If your man sees the world in one particular way and thinks that you need to stay in your lane, he’s probably not going to be the Barack to your Michelle.
3. How hard does he try to upgrade you and your business?
Beyoncé told the world she wants to upgrade her man, but you should also have someone who wants your business to reach the next level.
There are plenty of guys who pay lip service to supporting their partners, but in reality they couldn’t care less. Does your partner think about how their personal and professional networks can help you grow? If they have special skills, do they use them to support you? For example, if he’s a banker has he offered to look at your numbers? A #SwagAssist will energetically try to support your professional aspirations.
“Align your partner with your ambition.”
–Bola Adesola, MD Standard Chartered Nigeria
4. What does he say when you complain about the hustle?
We all have times when nothing seems to be working, and we just want to roll up into the fetal position and give up.
Yes, we all want a partner who is occasionally going to baby us and tell us everything is going to be okay. Here’s the thing though, building a business isn’t child’s play and having a partner who is going to let you give up is not helpful if you’re really trying to be a #MotherlandMogul.
You need someone who cares about you so deeply that they’ll listen to you complain, but believes in you so much that they force you to get back up.
5. How does he react to your business success?
When you’ve just signed a big deal and you tell him, pay attention to his expressions and tone of his voice. Does he give you a weak smile, like kind Yetunde gave her boyfriend when he proposed with an ugly ring? Does he say congrats quickly and then get back to how bad the traffic was in Lekki? If the answer is yes, then you’ve got yourself a certified #SwagDeflator. A #SwagAssist will make it clear that you da real MVP.
He will give you Azonto, Shoki and the running man all at the same time. All of his social media followers will know that you just won. He’ll be so excited people will think he won the lottery. That’s the sort of partner you need walking with you on the journey to professional success.
Everyone knows that one of the easiest ways to lose a war is to start fighting on two fronts. Just ask any German commander circa early 1940s.
It takes a village to raise an entrepreneur – and guess what? Your husband, your bae, your partner, your number 1 is a critical member of that village.
We hope you find someone who cares about your professional happiness and success just as much as you do.
If you’re married and your guy is a swag deflator, please don’t cite us in the divorce proceedings.
Studies show that African women are the most enterprising and hardworking people on the planet. While we fully embrace this title as Motherland Moguls, we know this work takes its toll. While some pressure can increase productivity, sustained emotional and mental strain causes stress, which distracts us and makes us sick.
It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously! These five activities are time tested to keep the blues and pain away.
It’s time for professional African women to take self-care seriously.
There’s more to working out than getting a ‘bikini bod’. Exercise has been proven to stimulate the release of endorphins —that good stuff that makes you happy. Some people find long-distance running cathartic while others feel empowered with strength training.
From kickboxing, to dancing, to tennis, physical activity is a great way to release tension and increase self-confidence. No wonder Queen B. is always happy!
2. Set Goals
Goal setting is a proven way to reduce stress. Spend ten minutes reflecting and writing your goals each day. When you know where you are going, you are less likely to stress the small.
Think about your goals – short and long-term. Evaluate your actions towards your goals and celebrate small and big wins often!
3. Control your thoughts and perspective
Meditation is a great way to train the brain. Many people falsely believe that meditation means sitting still. Any activity that allows you slow down and take stock of life, events, and people is meditative.
Try this five minute meditation technique called The Heart of the Rose; it will also increase your concentration.
You know those annoyingly positive people who say “Turn that frown upside down” when you are upset? Well, sorry to break it you, but it turns out they are actually on to something.
According to studies, smiling reduces stress levels. When we get stressed our hearts beat faster; simply can reduce heart rate and calm us down.
5. Be your own cheerleader
The journey to lead the pack is tough. At times, there will be no one to cheer you on. But do not lose hope or give up. Knowing the power of a hopeful spirit, we share a positive mantra with you each morning.
You can also create your own. Remember, to keep your mantra truth; that you are strong, resilient, and powerful.
So Motherland Moguls, which of these activities do you already do and how do they help? Which acts of self-care do you want to implement this new year?