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Empowering the Career Girl

How to Overcome Challenges On Your Career Path

When you hear the word, challenge, what readily comes to mind? What do you think about when you choose to use a challenge? What are you thinking? I bet you are thinking of obstacles, problems, or competition. You may be right. Indulge me momentarily as I take you through a brief bio of the "challenge." Challenge, as a word, emerged in the 12th century from the "Old French word "chalongier," which means "to complain, protest; haggle, quibble." The old French word is derived from the vulgar Latin word "calumniare," which means "to accuse falsely." "Calumniare" is derived from the Latin word "calumnia," which means "trickery." The word "calumny" is also derived from "calumnia." 

The word "challenge" was first recorded in Middle English in the 12th century. (word etymology). The word has since metamorphosed to, "something one can be accused of, a fault, blemish;" mid-14c., "false accusation, malicious charge; accusation of wrong-doing," also "act of laying claim" (to something), from Anglo-French challenge, Old French change "calumny, slander; demand, opposition," in legal use, "accusation, claim, dispute," from Anglo-French chalengier, Old French chalongier "to accuse, to dispute" (see challenge (v.)). The accusatory connotations faded 17c. The meanings "an objection" in law, etc.; "a calling to fight" are from mid-15c. The sense of "difficult task" is by 1954."


In all its evolution, the word challenge consistently calls for overcoming a situation. As career women, we are not without things that challenge our progress. Any of those obstacles or challenges can be overwhelming. Though the list could be longer than ten, most of those challenges can come under a lack of clarity of purpose, innovation, negativity, self-doubt, work-life balance, fear, and lack of vision.

Lack of clarity of purpose- Clarity of purpose is an essential element in the success of any event. It could be your birthday party, your vacation, your friends, your career, and indeed, your life. Without clarity of purpose, you lack a destination, and without a goal, the journey can take you anywhere. You are too precious to gamble with your career. Many women end up in an office without knowing why they are there. They may or may not like the job, but because they need more clarity of purpose, they are not sure of the source of their discomfort. With clarity of purpose, you can be more purposeful in applying for employment. It is your north star, and it will keep you on the right track for you. Before you venture into a career path, you should know why you want that path and which organizations will serve your purpose better. 

Lack of innovation- if the field of invention seems dominated by men, it is not because women need more innovative abilities. History has shown that men have taken credit for innovations pioneered by women in the past. Women are often relegated to the background because "One of the reasons that women often get overlooked, besides good old fashioned sexism, is that there are vast misconceptions about what makes someone a good innovator. All too often, we imagine the best innovators to be like Steve Jobs--brash, aggressive, and domineering--when actually just the opposite is true." ( Greg Satell, author, mapping innovation@digitaltonto). The fault is not with us but with societal misconceptions. The most effective way to smash that erroneousness is by being innovative. Innovation does not necessarily require that we come up with something huge. Innovation can come in the form of new disruptive products, services, or ideas that are different from the norm but lead to a better similar outcome. Innovation requires thoughtfulness, observation, and actions. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.

Negativity - gender stereotyping is not yet history, and it continues negatively impacting women's careers. These stereotypes contribute to the formation of managerial and leadership behaviors. Though there are many more women in the workplace than before, it has yet to overcome the discrepancies in the various roles in businesses and even in the female-dominated environment. For instance, there are 16,721 doctors currently employed in the United States. 54.2% of the doctors are women, and 45.8% are men, yet the male doctors earn more. (Zappia, the career expert). According to Zappia, Women Earn 85¢ For Every $1 Earned By Men at a rate of Male Income $217,375Female Income $185,09.The discrepancy doesn't end there. Men dominate the leadership positions also. How can a career woman overcome these institutionalized challenges irrelevant to her ability to perform? Women have to speak up more often than not. Ignoring a situation will not make it go away. It has to be recognized for what it is and approached with the right mindset and focus for a win-win situation. No scientific data shows that women are less capable of leading than men. Instead, several data show that women are as good and, in some cases, better managers than men.

Self-doubt- One of the things that can hold you back from your opportunities to grow in life is self-doubt. It is the belief that you need to be better, not just qualify, though you may be better qualified than others in the group. Women tend to suffer from this shortcoming more than men. There are many reasons why women have imposter syndrome, and it goes back to stereotyping, culture, and the patriarchial system. It causes us to be too self-conscious, comparing ourselves to other people and concluding that others are better. At some point, it might have been considering humility to put yourself down or not blow your trumpet. While we can't change the past or upbringing, it is possible to overcome self-doubt. In business, if you don't promote your strengths, skills, and accomplishments, you will go unnoticed, and with that goes the chances of reaching your career goal. There are so many ways to deal with self-doubt. You can confront it by asking yourself why you think you are not good enough. You can take stock of your strengths and weaknesses and look for improvement. Some courses or workshops can be beneficial. Awareness is a powerful thing. Now that you know that self-doubt is an obstacle to your career growth, it is time to do something about it.