Take a Girl Child to Work Day 2016


A Special Message from me to you

As I write this to you, I am a month away from my 40th birthday. I have been working for 20 years already and I have held numerous positions in various different industries. It occurred to me what a wonderful initiative the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day, really is, especially as women of my generation and the generations before me, never had opportunities like this. We did not grow up in a time where young women were truly encouraged to be all they could be and we still battle misogyny and sexism on a daily basis. I hope that the work that my sisters and our mothers and grandmothers in the feminist struggle have done, will benefit you and those who come after you and I hope that you will live and work in a world where it is not somehow a disadvantage to be a woman. Here is what I wish someone could have told me when I was a young woman: 

Being a Woman is a Blessing and an Advantage

There was a time when it was believed that women were the ‘weaker sex’ and it was frowned upon for women to work outside the home. If women did join the ranks of the workforce, it was really only acceptable to be a secretary or a teacher or a nurse. You are not encumbered by these imagined obstacles and the world is your oyster. You can be anything you want to be and you can be really good at it. You have a distinct advantage being a woman in any profession, as we bring with us immeasurable mental strength, wisdom, empathy and caring. We are able to see dimensions to problems that our male counterparts are often not even aware of and this gives us a distinct advantage in many situations. Trust your intuition or your ‘gut’. Learn not to question that inner voice and just trust it. If your gut tells you that there is something ‘off’ about a person or situation, trust that feeling without seeking validation and listen to the voice because it will never steer you wrong.

Do not ever feel that you need to diminish your intellect or your sense of humour and wit or even your femininity, to ‘fit in’ in the workplace. Learn from an early age who you are and realise that ‘who you are’ is distinctly different from ‘what you do for a living’. Know what your values are and understand that your top 5 values are likely to change as you progress through the various stages of your life.

You are your own person and your single biggest weapon and obstacle, is your own mind.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.

Believe in yourself and your own abilities. If you think you may fail, then you probably will. But if you truly believe that you can succeed and achieve your goals – no matter how lofty – then you will.

You will find the resilience and I promise you that you will learn throughout your life that you are stronger than you know and no amount of difficult days will ever win out because you will always prevail. You are Woman!

What I have learned in Life

I have learned many lessons in my 40 years so far, some of the most important I would like to share with you and hope that perhaps you may not have to learn these lessons the hard way, through hard work or heartache or tragedy.

Always be a lady. Show dignity and grace in the face of adversity and harness your unique strength and intuition in all circumstances. Make sure that you project the image of who you truly are, aligned with your values in life and the life-stage where you find yourself. Have good manners and learn how to act in different situations, so that you never feel inferior or lack confidence.

Never sleep with makeup! It is really bad for your skin and it ages you.

Always choose to be kind, no matter how horrible someone is to you. You don’t have to resort to their tactics and you will never ever regret choosing kindness. Remember that how others treat you is a reflection of who they are and is in no way a reflection of who you are or what you are worth. Learn to never take anything personally – nothing that others do (regardless of what they may tell you) is about you.

There really are only 2 main emotions in life: love and fear. Learn to recognize where people are acting from and be kind and compassionate, especially when they are acting out because they are really just afraid.

Be impeccable with your word. Do not speak ill of others or participate in gossip. Tell the truth in a loving, kind and compassionate way.

Savour the moments in your life. Life is about experiences and moments, not ‘stuff’. It is about connecting with others and realizing that underneath it all, we are all more similar than we are different.

Learn how to change a tyre, change a plug and hang a picture. Learn how to cook because dining with loved ones is one of the most sublime pleasures in life.

Be responsible with your money and be selfish with your time and attention.

If you wish to become a wife or a mother, then be the best wife or mother you can possibly be. Teach your children to be good, kind and responsible people.

If you choose a career and a life filled with travel and rich experiences, then do that and don’t feel like you have to feel guilty about your choice. This is your life and you have to live it in accordance with your personal values and in integrity with who you truly are. If you do this and you always know your motives for choosing something, you will not have regrets and you will be kinder and more loving towards yourself.

Which brings me to the final, most important life lesson I would like to share with you: always speak kindly to and of yourself.

Speak to yourself and love yourself the way you would a good friend and trusted confidante.

What I have learned at Work

Never stop learning and striving to be the master in your field. Display leadership, no matter what your position is or what level you are in in an organization. Read books and learn as much as you can. Know that your integrity is everything and it becomes a large part of your professional reputation and the way that others perceive you, so do not gossip and do not lie – this includes over-promising and then not delivering on what you had undertaken.

Always communicate clearly and don’t forget to tell people ‘why’ you are doing something or why you are asking for their assistance. If you cannot meet a deadline, communicate this to the person and tell them why.

Learn to say ‘no’ without giving a reason or making excuses for yourself. Always know your worth and walk away from people or situations that do not bring out the best in you.

I wish you all the best as you embark on your journey as a woman in this life!

(c) Deborah A Hartung 2016