Reflection - Women in Leadership (Week 5)

Submitted by Wangsa Jelita on Sun, 2017-02-19 20:30

E-poster for MOOC Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change - week 5


I would like to start this writing with a confession that I have mixed feelings about this last session. (In my defense, that is the reason why it took me so long to finish this reflection).

But on a more serious note, I really cannot believe how time flies. (Five weeks already, really?!) I suppose it only indicates how enjoyable facilitating this course is. I am really hopeful that the people who were involved felt the same way.

And to be frank, I did not expect to be affected THIS much. What I meant by that is though I did know that I would learn something new at the end of the course—which, I thought, would very much relate to my work—I just did not really anticipate that the lessons that I got would be a lot more personal. I am not sure how to put it into words (or whether I want to), but really, for that particular benefit, I, personally, am beyond grateful.

And not to mention, I also love the way the course ended. I could tell that there was just something empowering about having three women—with strong personalities and positive outlooks about life—sharing their stories, showing their vulnerabilities, as well strengths, on the same stage and at the same time. The discussions I had with them—from how we should define success to other topics which might seem to be arbitrary (which was not, really)—was amazing. I was so glad that many participants came up to me after the session and said the same thing. I’m thankful for all the stories that Mba Farina, Mba Nina, and Yasmin shared that night.

Flashback to weeks before the course even started, the struggle in finding the right guest speakers was real. (Per usual.) It was a long debate about who should be invited for the last session, but once the decision was made that we would be inviting these three women, the reason was clear. Let me explain why.

One of my ever-fav TED talk is of Alain de Botton, in which he encouraged each and every one of us to really examine whether our definition of success is really our own. He explained how easy it is to be inflicted by the expectation made of others, that more often than not we confuse it with our own goals. With that in mind, in the session when we would be redefining the word ‘success’, I believe we need people who are certain about theirs. Having stalked each and every one of them quite intensively (well, except Yasmin because I know her pretty well already), I suppose it is safe to say that they would make good role models for that particular matter.

Now the interesting thing is, I found that there are few things in common between the three of them, and the most profound one is their love of questions. I was very much interested in knowing more how each and every one of them dares to question things that not many do and, more importantly, what those questions are. Therefore, in this reflection I would like to share three questions from the evening that intrigued me the most.


“What are the things you cannot compromise with?” – Yasmin Indriasti.

I believe that in order to better understand ourselves and our relationships with the people around us, there are profound questions that we need to find the answers to. I am sure this question is one of them.

Firstly, I found this question beautiful because I think it really requires us to be very honest about ourselves. Some people might answer “their family,” some would say “time,” some other, perhaps, would respond with something else. I am certain that it is not about imposing one answer to everyone, but instead, it is more about acknowledging and having the courage to be our authentic selves.

The second reason why I really love this question is because it helps us to realize what our values in life are. Our answer to this question will show what distinguishes us from others, it is what makes me me and you you—which sometimes, for the best/worst, may also set the tone whether two people will grow together or apart.

On the one hand, one of things that I have learned as I grow older is that when we know better about ourselves and when we decide to choose certain values to live our lives with, we may find fundamental disconnect between the way we see our lives and the way others do. And sometimes it is just difficult to overcome. And this leads me to my next favorite question in the evening.


(Left-right): me, Farina Situmorang - CEO at Catalyst Strategy, Nina Moran - CEO at Aprilis co., Yasmin Indriasti - Co-CEO at Wangsa Jelita


“If you know what you want, and it’s not everybody else wants, so what?” – Nina Moran

I think one of the things that I keep learning over and over again is the fact that all people are not the same. Our temperaments are not the same, neither are our upbringings, so how come we expect everyone would eventually value the same thing?

And while this sounds easy to understand, I found that it is also easy to forget. And I have seen and experienced myself many times that one of the bitterest moments in my life often happens when I forgot to acknowledge the truth that I, too, am different.

Now the thing is, when we choose certain values to live our lives with, it means, by extension, we have to reject other values that contradict them. For instance, when we decide to value a healthy lifestyle, we will have to reject the idea of smoking and eating unhealthy food. Another example from my own experience is when I choose to value decency, I will be rejecting anything that against my definition of being a decent person.

Sometimes, however, this also means that we have to disagree with other people. And while rejecting things—that do not sit well with our own values—may give us the heebie-jeebies (especially when we deal with our loved ones), I have learned (and now firmly believe) that we should never avoid it, no matter what. By all means, rejection is something we all have to learn to cope, whether when we are being the rejector or the rejectee.

Another reminder from the discussion that I got was that it does not mean, by the way, that we are allowed to be disrespectful towards others whose values are different. It simply means that we have to have the courage to be true to our own selves. And this resonates well with one of the most beautiful advices I have ever received, that “one of the keys to live life to the fullest is to learn to be comfortable with saying AND hearing: NO!”


And finally..


Discussion session in week 5, on defining "success" and beyond


“What are you making the decision out of, fear or love?” – Farina Situmorang.

During the discussion, Mba Farina further mentioned that, I quote, “when I make decisions out of fear, it always takes me to harder paths.” To be honest, I cannot begin to tell how her words resonated very well with me. As a matter of fact, if I could sum up what 2016 taught me, I would say that I must be aware when fear overcomes me next time. The bias caused by fear once affected my decision, so much so that it cost me something that was just way too precious (I promised I would never let myself made the same mistake).

On the other hand, I actually believe that every emotion we experience (including fear) is actually useful. At the very least, I believe it gives us some signals that may help us to better understand our situation. An easy example would be when I fear I may fall on slippery surfaces, I will be extra careful when I walk. Another example is when I fear of coming late to a meeting, I will spare at least three hours before the time to get myself ready. The point that I want to make is that, I believe that fear, in a certain dose, is actually useful. It inspires us to make good decisions and even take some proper actions.

Now with that information in mind, I wonder: when does fear serve us well and help us in making good decisions? Or to put in other words, when does fear actually lead us to make bad decisions? I do not have the answer to this, to be honest, but I do think I came close to find it.

Just recently, I had a delightful conversation with a very intelligent woman who does really well in her career. (Spoiler alert: I am thrilled that she will be one of the guest speakers in Wangsa Jelita’s event next month. Further information about this will be shared soon). She told me her story when she worked as a consultant with crazy and demanding working hours while just gave birth to twins. Fearing of not spending enough time with her newborns, one day she decided to tell her supervisor that she just wanted to take projects that would not require her to travel as much as she used to. Her supervisor approved. But what she realized then was, due to her specific request, the projects that met her need were only ones that she disliked, ones that she was barely passionate about. She said, I quote, “at the time, I felt even bitter for not spending the time at home with my kids.”

The reason why I mentioned this story is because it helped me to understand that, yes we still have to be aware when we fear something, in fact, I still believe that we have to consider our fear when we make decisions. But what we need to remember is, we should never let our fear affects us so much that we would make decisions to settle for less than we deserve. We should never let fear (or any other emotions) leads us to do things that are against our values and/or things that, using Yasmin’s term, we cannot compromise with.


Group Photo at the end of the session



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