All my life, I’ve lived by a simple mantra: “Be so good you can’t be ignored.” Even as a young girl in India, I was keenly aware of gender discrimination. I learned early on that women must work twice as hard as men to gain recognition and opportunities.
But thanks to those seven words, which my mother all but infused into my DNA, I never doubted my abilities. I just had to be so good, no one — not my relatives, my teachers, my friends, or my bosses — could ever ignore me.
This mantra taught me that the more capable I am, the more influence I have. And influence is what allows us to achieve our goals and drive change in our organizations and communities.
Adopting the philosophy of being so good you can’t be ignored will transform your perspective on your work and your personal life. Here’s how to shift toward this way of thinking:
1. Cultivate Self-Awareness
Look back on pivotal experiences in your life and note any patterns. When did you thrive? When did you shrink away from opportunities? Identify triggers for both your successes and failures, and use that knowledge to do better going forward.
Ask your friends, family, and colleagues for feedback as well. Those closest to you may illuminate strengths and destructive patterns you’ve never even noticed. Their insights may lead to powerful breakthroughs.
2. Be Ruthless
As you develop a clearer picture of your patterns, become your own toughest critic and strongest advocate. Don’t shrink away from difficult truths or downplay your attributes. Invest in improving yourself where necessary, and insist on getting what you deserve in your personal and professional pursuits.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Compartmentalize
You don’t need to be the absolute best mother, wife, employee, and boss all at the same time. Just be the best version of yourself based on what your current circumstances demand.
When I’m visiting colleges with my daughter, I focus exclusively on supporting her. I’m not thinking about what’s going on at work or how to advance my career. But when I’m at work, I’m completely invested in the task at hand, not thinking about my daughter’s college decision or the to-do list that awaits me at home. Separating the spheres of my life allows me to give everything I have to everything I do.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Slack Off
Being good at what you do demands hard work and discipline, but no one can be “on” 24/7. Our brains need time to rest and process information; they can’t handle constant cognitive demands. Make time to do something restorative every day, even if that’s just watching your favorite sitcom on Netflix for 20 minutes.
By living the words “Be so good you can’t be ignored,” women can claim ownership of our destinies. We’ll continue to encounter discrimination and personal and professional challenges, but I believe character is born in adversity. And when you’re exceptional at what you do, you force even the biggest skeptics to pay attention.