Anju Jain's book Step Up: How Women Can Perform Better for Success, speaks about gender disparity, draws out the commonalities among women and defines the challenges they typically face. The subject matter of the book is not something we haven't heard about before, but the practicality in her writing makes this book relatable and distinct from others.
As one flips through the pages, one realises that this book has beautifully captured the daily challenges a woman faces in her personal and professional life in a very concise manner by way of illustrations, practical reasoning, interviews, personal experiences and research data. The author has illustrated different roles of a woman's life - as a working professional/entrepreneur, wife and mother, and the struggles related to performing multiple roles simultaneously and striving to fulfil responsibilities and aspirations. She has not only highlighted the struggles, but also given practical techniques and strategies that a woman can employ to achieve success.
She emphasises that women should have clarity of purpose and vision for their life. Women should determine how important that purpose is to them and then commit to achieving it. Having done that, she states women should 'onboard' and align all the stakeholders in her life - be it her spouse, children, parents, in-laws, organisation, colleagues and extended networks - with her vision. The constant efforts of 'onboarding' people and their support would help women focus and prioritise on what is important to them, which in return will help them realise their aspirations.
I agree with the author that a healthy partnership is important to succeed. What is refreshing is that the book does not have a feminist undertone and is not anti-men. Rather, it breaks the stereotypes and looks at men as contributing participants to women's success.
The book gives very practical takeaways to women on setting goals, making a plan of action, prioritising, taking control, making conscious choices and informed decisions to lead a more fulfilling life. It presents a holistic picture that explains how society and role divisions have evolved, their impact on the present scenario and what can be done to enable a change going forward to see more women in leadership roles. She has interviewed leaders, both women and men, on the challenges they faced and the solutions that worked for them. Their anecdotes and life stories are indeed inspiring.
'Believe you can and you are halfway there', I truly swear by that statement! I relate to Anju's theory about visualising positive outcomes and having self belief. Fear and self-doubt tend to manifest struggle and failure. I know that I wouldn't have had the courage to leave my cushy job and take the leap of faith to start my own venture if I did not trust my capabilities and didn't have the ability to sustain through uncertainty. As a woman entrepreneur, I have personally deployed many of the strategies that Anju has emphasised in her book and have found them to be very useful.
The reviewer is Founding Partner at Burgeon Bizsupport LLP