She Leads Africa

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Dear Woman, It’s time to dance like no one is watching

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has recently concluded a three-nation African tour. Setting Brexit issues aside for a moment, in both South Africa and Kenya she joined some youngsters in dance routines and well her dance moves, or rather lack of them, set the Internet ablaze. A television host in the UK compared her dance moves when in Kenya to picking fruit from a tree. An ABC news article also compared her efforts to one trying to reach for groceries from a high shelf. As Africans, we have been bestowed with the gift of rhythm and dance is one of our things. We can all agree that Ms. May is not gifted in that particular aspect. While I can pull a few moves myself, I absolutely love and agree with Robert Davidson’s tweet on Ms. May’s moves: “Good luck to her. Throw yourself at it knowing you’ll make a bit of a prune of yourself in front of the world’s media or sit on sidelines looking aloof. I say right decision ‪@theresa_may – who cares what the haters say, strut your funky stuff”. How true this is! Tell me, how often do we find ourselves sitting by the sidelines because we fear what people will say or think? How often do we wait for the perfect opportunity to come our way before we take the plunge? Do we first seek validation from our friends and family before we garner the confidence to step out? In the words of H. Jackson Brown Junior, “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor”. If you are on the sidelines, watching, criticizing, doing nothing about your circumstances, then nothing in your life is going to change for the better. [bctt tweet=”Do not wait to be asked, ask for what you want” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] A Harvard Business Review article by Andromachi Athanasopolou, Amanda Moss Cowan, Michael Smets, and Timothy Morris on the outcome of a study of the leadership journey of twelve female Chief Executive Officers resonated with me a lot. It indicated the fact that as women and particularly with regard to leadership, we tend to play on the sidelines. The study had five recommendations that women who want to scale the leadership ladder ought to take, and one in specific reverberated with me. It is as simple as this, do not wait to be asked, ask for what you want. The words below from a male Chief Executive Officer who took part in a larger study on the same topic of leadership brought it all together for me. “I was actually talking with a young woman who was asking me something about an opportunity, I mean I had never met her before….we were chatting about career advice and she said, you know, I’m just not sure I have all the skills they’re looking for, I don’t know if I should , you know, go for that or not. And I said, you know that’s the last thing in the world you should be worried about, don’t take yourself out of something before you’re even in it.” When I read this, I was so saddened for the young lady in the story but upon further reflection, I realized that this is the story of my life and the lives of many other women across the world. How sad! As women, we seek perfection before taking the plunge. But common sense should tell us that circumstances will never be completely perfect. It is okay to make a complete fool of yourself as you try out your new venture. Whether it works out or not, you will have learned how to do it better the next time. It is okay to voice your opinion in that meeting, even if it’s contradictory and not so well put together. It may just be the solution that will move your company forward. But if you keep quiet and tell your colleagues later that you had an idea that could improve things, you are not helping anyone. [bctt tweet=”It is okay to make a complete fool of yourself as you try out your new venture.” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] We have to get tired of wishing we were better, more courageous and that we could take more risks. Let us stop wishing and start doing! Really, what is the worst thing that could happen, if we dared more, if we risked more or if we tried more! Despite the whole world poking fun at her, Ms. May remains the second most powerful woman in the world and from her response to all the jokes about her dancing, she is perfectly aware she cannot dance. She shook off the criticism saying “I think the chances of Strictly Come Dancing (the UK version of Dancing With the Stars) coming calling are pretty minimal”. Our new mantra ought to be “Try Everything”. That is where the magic is, that is where the magic happens. In the discomfort of not knowing how things will turn out but with the exhilaration that we are slowly becoming the best version of ourselves. Transcend to your next platform, queen. Dance like no one is watching!       Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.