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Do you feel flustered at work sometimes, and wonder why your career isn’t moving ahead? Then Sailaja Manacha’s Step Up is for you.
How many of us have looked at mutual funds or SIPs and wondered why on earth they have to deal with all this jargon?
You are certainly not alone in thinking like this. Give or take, many women out there feel confused and stay quiet, in the fear of being rebuked or worse, ridiculed.
Step Up, a book written by Sailaja Manacha ably captures this confusion and forces us to confront it, and slowly, overcome it.
This book came to me at a juncture where I was stuck between deciding whether I was a failure or I was just plain lazy.
At this point, I would like to clarify that I read pretty fast and I took a long time to go through this book.
As I kept reading, things began falling in place. After reading the first two chapters, (by this I mean, just reading, and not implementing it in my life), I closed the book and sat down.
I realized that I had a unique opportunity to do something about my habits that were not allowing me to move ahead. I recognized the REDs in my life and decided to note them down. At work, I observed myself and took copious notes. Whenever I tried to attempt something creative at work, the Inner Critic would surface and ruin my efforts. After reading this book, I sat down with a notebook and a pen to give a shot at the Practice exercises.
Sailaja Manacha has brought us some pointers that provide women with the necessary tools to become powerful leaders. These are tools that are practically applicable, and easy enough to be used by the avaerage working woman.
The book is divided into easily consumable parts. The chapters are not too heavy or too light, and contain a lot of anecdotes, making it engaging, chunked neatly into sections, making them easy to locate. The practice sections make a lot of sense and it is advisable to keep a paper and pen to mark your responses once you complete a chapter.
Initially, I thought it would be like any other self-help book where they tell us to do this and that and promise a mind bending miracle. Such is not the case with Step Up. I think Sailaja has aimed it at mostly working women who would derive great benefits from such a book.
While reading the book I recollected many past experiences where I could have used the methods given in the book. There was a time when I wanted to ask for support but just could not bring myself to do it. After going through the list of REDs given in chapter two, I decided to be kind to myself and ask for support. In fact, when I directly asked peers to share my burned, I realized I had opened up something. It was pure exhilaration.
Every woman needs to create a space for herself and that comes from understanding, and being aware of who she is. I believe that every person is a leader. Within the space of day-to-day responsibilities, we can choose to step up to the life we want to live by saying: “These are things I care about and this is what I would like to do.”
The devil is in the details
At work, I was facing a situation where I was doing a lot of good work but I felt that I was not projected for a plum project that some select team members were making a beeline for. I had considered speaking to my Manager but something kept me from doing it.
I realized after reading Step Up that conversations become ineffective and incomplete if I do not pay proper attention to the details.
Don’t accept anything without questioning
As Sailaja says sometimes we are blindly receiving what the other person is saying. I would accept without questioning. This was my problem. I had been passive for as long as I could remember. I used Sailaja’s Anatomy of Action to spot some aspects in me that would help my cause.
Being mentally present
I realized that I was able to easily identify aspects that would help me care for myself more. Another very important takeaway for me was the act of being present and centering myself. These were very important for me at the workplace.
Expressing how I felt
I had these colleagues with whom I would just clam up and not express my displeasure or disagreement in the fear of their reactions. I had to keep reminding myself that my body was involved in the thinking process and I was teaching it several things. Some of them were very wrong lessons.
By centering myself, I was able to become aware of my internal states and keep tabs on the external environment through my physical senses. It was quite an eye opener for a person like me.
Requesting for help
Lastly, one important aspect that I learned to do with the help of this wonderful book was that I learned to request. Earlier, I used to think I had the whole world on my shoulders and I could not move without letting everything shatter. So wrong I was!
Step Up must be treated like a workbook, if I may say so. It is a guide to navigate this maze of relationships and worldly matters, especially for women.
I would like to add an afterthought here. Most women I know, including myself, are so nicely conditioned that throughout our adult lives we just go on hearing the little voice in our heads and believing everything it says. I have been a sad recipient of this phenomena till I learned about Child and Parent states in my MBA class. It was a nice refresher to read and implement it through this book.
Of course, when we are thinking beings, we automatically sort things into buckets: I like this, I am not too fond of this.
Though I loved everything about this book, there were a few things I wasn’t so sure of. I felt the chapter on assertive men, the last one, Wind Beneath Your Wings was not what I expected it to be. Also, the idea of self-care, I felt should have appeared much earlier or should have had a separate chapter to itself.
Would like to wrap up by saying that I am glad I was sent this book. I am a firm believer in the wisdom of the universe. Nothing happens by chance. Everything has a purpose. And this book came to me by the infinite love of the universe trying to send me a message.
Do pick it up if you have ever wondered why you feel tongue-tied in meetings or are not able to further your career as you might wish.
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Book reviewer | Author of 'Once Upon a Reunion'
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