I recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Kiran Bedi, India’s first and highest ranking female Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. Her speech, aimed at career women, was one of the most inspirational that I have ever heard.
While we were waiting for Dr. Bedi to arrive, there was a current of excitement among the audience. And once she entered, her presence was almost tangible; she has this aura of energy and awe surrounding her, and the anticipation mounted.
Her hold over an audience was undeniable, as once she started talking there was not a murmur to be heard among the crowd. Since the lecture was aimed at women, she started by asking us what we really wanted to hear her speak about. She initially shared various strategies that she personally used to achieve all of her professional goals, and then opened the floor up to questions. It was an extremely inspirational and very interactive session, and though it’s hard to recreate that energy in words, I’ve attempted to capture the essence of her talk.
The most important thing she mentioned was to create a mission statement for your life. This, she said, would help you to know what you want, what is important for you. If you’re a person who is focused on your career, for instance, you will need to design the rest of your life in such a way that you are able to focus on your work without being pulled in multiple directions or feeling guilty about not concentrating enough on your home and family. On the other hand, if your family is more important for you, then you know that you don’t really need to compare yourself with the other go-getters at work. Then you know that you need to find a job and a position where you can balance your work with your home, and you don’t set unattainable goals that then de-motivate you. So, creating a mission statement will help you to know what you want — and be true to that.
When she was asked about her career and how she moved up the ladder among the male dominated IPS cadre, she said the answer was “focus.” Focus on what you want and on doing what you have to do — the rest, like promotion, will come. When you are true to what you’re doing, and are focusing on getting what needs to get done, done, recognition is bound to follow.
Another important thing when in the corporate arena is to strengthen your home — that has to be your sanctuary. Then no matter what is happening on the outside, at home, where it matters, you can come back and be rejuvenated. Make friends with your mother-in-law; she can be your best support system, Dr. Bedi advised. If she believes in you and helps you, then you can go to work knowing that your home is well taken care of. But at the same time, she warned women against putting all of their finances into a joint account.”Keep a personal account. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and it’s important to be protected,” she advised.
Her greatest strength has been her own inner strength. “Strengthen yourself from the inside,” she advises. “Be of inner steel, strong and pure steel — be secure in what you are. The security has to come from within. If you are strong inside nothing can shake you. You can deal with anything. Tomorrow if people around you are not there, can you move on on your own? That is inner strength.”
It’s also important for you to be your own friend, she counsels. Just the way you ask a friend for advice, ask yourself for advice. Would you be comfortable choosing a certain path? Ask yourself that. Be in touch with who you are and be true to that, that’s one of the important life lessons she shared with us.
Dr. Bedi is also a firm believer in the power of the mind. “The mind is wonderful — it can enslave you and you can enslave it — depends on your thoughts, which can change,” she says. “Thoughts are powerful. When you’re thinking of something, you’ll get the right kind of books/music that will speak to you, that will help you move in the direction of your thoughts.” That’s why she advises people not to focus on their problems. Focus instead on finding solutions — you’ll get answers in a few hours…suddenly, unexpectedly. Work on your mind; change its pattern from negative to positive. The best way of dispelling negative thoughts is to read inspiring books, listen to inspiring music, meditate…It helps.
Filled with anecdotes from her own life, as well as the problems and solutions she gave to people through her television show Aap Ki Adalat, her lecture was uplifting and thought provoking. It left us with a sense of empowerment and a road map of suggestions that we could follow to be more in tune with ourselves and to be successful in every sphere of our lives.