On this week’s episode of the Northern Power Women podcast, we’re bringing you life lessons from Ameena Ahmed. Ameena’s background is in senior executive roles including CEO roles in 3 sectors, profit, public and not for profit. Her passion to create environments that enable people to develop to their greatest potential, and to lead organisations that combine purpose and profit to make a difference and improve the lives of people in society. In her episode, Amina shared some great advice about what people should put on their CV, and how she managed to cope with the guilt-factor as a working parent. Wanting to learn more about the insights and experiences Ameena has to offer the Northern Power Women community, we asked her to talk some more about the fascinating topics she touched on in her Life Lessons segment.
How should somebody go about improving their discipline?
Being a master of self-discipline is a difficult thing. I think it is a lifelong thing as well. It needs ongoing practice. And as with anything it takes time to develop. Self-discipline is essentially the ability to control one’s actions, feelings, and emotions. It is often connected to willpower, which is the control of one’s impulses and actions. But I think we can all have will power that can disintegrate. We all know about New Year’s resolutions, for example, and how easy they are to break. So, I think it is more than willpower. It is about not being hard on yourself forgiving yourself and moving forward. Because putting new ways of thinking do not always go according to plan, and you have your ups and downs. But the key is to keep moving forwards. When you have a setback, acknowledge what caused it and move on. And not to get wrapped up in guilt, anger, or frustration because these emotions will not help build or improve self-discipline. It is good to schedule rewards for yourself. To give you the incentive to keep going and certainly not to wait for it to feel right. Just schedule it in to do what you plan to do. And create a good habit. So essentially, developing self-discipline is about choosing your goal. Finding new motivation dealing with the obstacles that will arise. instilling good habits that replace old habits and just keep going each day; every day is a new day, so to speak.
What advice do you have for someone starting in the new sector?
I think a starting point if you have recently lost your job, or simply decided it is time for change, or seeking new opportunities, the first thing to do is to really look at your CV and repurpose it and demonstrate how your experiences relevant to the new sector.
You will need to identify the culture of the sector and who is hiring so that you can talk their language and then you need to assess and highlight your transferable skills. Because it does not mean you are starting from scratch with absolutely no skills, you have got strong set of transferable skills under your belt, which can be just as beneficial. Match that to the job description of the role that you are thinking of taking on. And if you identify any gaps in your experience or your knowledge, then do your research. I think the key thing is not to be afraid to explore new territory. Whenever I have moved sectors, I have always leveraged from a fresh perspective. That means getting rid of all preconceived notions and fully immersing myself in every aspect of that sector or role to gain a true understanding of the market. By moving sectors, you can be unbiased and bring a fresh perspective and viewpoint which gives you a potentially a strong competitive advantage, so you talk to as many people in the in the sector as possible and ask lots of questions. Get to know the key players and connectors and absorb all the new knowledge. There are pros and cons of moving sectors but do not let that stop you!
It is important to consider the feedback and ideas of people who have been in that sector or industry for a longer time. However, you do not always have to agree with them.
In a post pandemic world, how important do you think our working relationships are?
Well, we are all familiar with the term hybrid working. And it seems safe to say that most businesses will enable more employees to work from locations other than a physical office and split their time between office and home. But interestingly, it seems that less employees want to solely work remotely. So, whilst there is Company advantages in terms of reducing costs, inefficiency etc. Many who have been working remotely in the pandemic and unable to see their co-workers, let alone just about anyone outside of their household, then workforce connections are especially important. What we formerly took for granted see in our co-workers every day maybe we did not realise the how valuable that was. I think teams will be a lot closer but now they are more able to move back into the workplace. In a sense, relationships with ourselves and our co-workers and employee employer relationships have permanently shifted for the better! Certainly, connection is not just about socialising. It is much more about human interaction. So, I think it is important for working relationships to be based on being heard, appreciated, and acknowledged. And that could be about recognising somebody’s contribution to a project or task and really valuing them. Or it could be about an intranet system in which everyone can interact with each other. So, it is about leaders understanding what employees like about their workplaces before the pandemic and the things that they have enjoyed seeing change because of the pandemic. There is also going to be much more emphasis on health and well-being concerns of staff returning because the pandemic impacted by isolation and loneliness has taken a toll on people’s mental well-being. Employers will really need to have more compassion in their leadership to deal with the stresses that employees are feeling. There is a need for trust in leadership. My work as a business mentor and executive leadership coach brings includes bringing together like-minded peers in safe, confidential groups to raise the emotional intelligence and skill set of business owners and leaders to both enhance the culture of their organisation and enable them to self-manage as the organisation grows and develops. So, developing compassion, trust and self-awareness are all key traits of leaders going forwards post pandemic.
What practical steps have you taken in the past to overcome feelings of fear?
I have always remembered the acronym for fear, which is ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’. So how I have overcome it, is firstly by naming the fear. And once I have identified it, then I feel more confident and in control. Because I separate from the emotional hijack that fear gives.
Lately, I have been more able to practice gratitude as my heart has opened more, and that allows me not to drown in fear. So, it is about raising into a positive mindset or life state. Gratitude is present moment focused- what I am grateful for, whether that is walk by the sea, or experiencing love from family, friends, pets, etc. While fear is future orientated it is based on what might happen!
To get me into a positive mindset because I practice Buddhism, I am constantly reciting positive affirmation in a way through my Buddhist prayer/ chanting.
And there’s things that I focus on like ‘I am, love and compassion’ as a mantra, or if I am in a situation in society, then I can chant inside, or I can think inside ‘I am prepared for this challenge’.
Once I realise the fear is not real, then it dissolves the obstacles. And if the fear is real, then I am prepared to deal with it and respond. appropriate appropriately to grounded or to stay safe.
Like most of the people’s my early childhood laid down emotional patterns and behaviours in my life. For me, I had a deep-rooted fear of being too visible, because I grew up in an environment which it was not okay to speak up. So, playing it safe, became the norm for me, that is playing it safe in terms of seeking approval, and fearing criticism. And I have done a lot of personal development work on reprogramming some of those childhood patterns that was set pre seven. And that has certainly helped me to tackle fear.