Why It's Important to Learn from Men

Women are strong. There's no denying to that. But we live in a male-dominated world where almost everything is governed by men in various disciplines, from politics to sports, science to business. In fact, only five percent of female CEOs made it to the Fortune 500 in 2018.

Due to the myriad of men in various disciplines, we tend to picture a short-haired figure in a suit and tie with a briefcase every time we hear the words "hard work," "career" or "successful." In return, our society has fostered an idea that when someone succeeds in something, it's due to the simple fact that they're men and not because of how much work or dedication they've put in regardless of their gender.

Competing is about learning from someone else to compete with who we were yesterday instead of trying to be better than them.

This idea has been enforced in our heads again and again—often enough to let us think that men are the root cause of the issue instead of evaluating our own work, experiences and people skills. Unconsciously, we have let ourselves to make excuses for our lack of experience and knowledge to believe that we get rejected because of our gender when that's not always the case.

Sometimes, men are exposed to different experiences which shape their behavior and allow them to apply new ways of thinking in the workplace, whereas women are constructed the other way around. However, it's never too late to change our way of thinking and to learn from other people. We should not limit ourselves to having women as our only role models and we should not be afraid to look up to men as well because we believe that we can truly be as good as them.

It's never the case of one being better than the other, but it's about how one can learn from the other. Competing is all about learning from someone else to compete with who we were yesterday instead of trying to be better than them. In that vein, these are a few things that I have observed from men throughout my life—from my father to boys in my physics class and even strangers in career fairs.

1. Forget about your gender

Sometimes, we can put a huge emphasis on being one of the few women in our respective fields. There's no question that this is an achievement as we have come a long way to be in that position. However, we occasionally glorify this idea to the point that we forget to do the best as men can do. We are inclined to think that our work is already good enough as a woman when we should also shoot for higher targets.

Or even worse, some women tend to believe that they are not as good as men because men are naturally good in that field and that's why there are more men in it. While men, on the other hand, see themselves as individuals instead of a gender. Ann Shoket, the author of "The Big Life," stated, "The advice I always give is to forget you're a woman, that you're a person with a good idea just like anybody else." We as women have to remember that we are in our positions right now like any other person in the field because we are good enough to be in it. 

2. Show your strengths

People tend to see men as charismatic figures because they're not afraid to talk about their strengths and positive attributes to people, which implies that they are confident about their abilities. I've seen men going up to companies in career fairs discussing their strengths although they later admitted to me that they knew nothing about the company and chose to simply go for it. 

On the other hand, women tend to hide their intelligence from people even if they do have a Ph.D., a 3.8 GPA or an internship at Vogue. We tend to think that speaking about our aptitudes is just a way of showing arrogance when in fact, the professional environment is the perfect place to do so. People around us pick up on how we feel about ourselves, and sometimes trying so hard to be modest doesn't get us to where we want to be. There's no point in having a Ph.D., a 3.8 GPA or an internship at a leading magazine if we let people treat us like we're anything less.  

3. Stop overthinking

It's always good to plan things. But sometimes we have to remember that things don't always go as we plan and we have no choice but to improvise. Everything doesn't have to be perfect and it's better to see your mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures. We view small failures as fatal flaws and fear that our career will take a negative turn because of them.

In reality, mistakes are just reminders of what we need to work on and everyone has to go through them to get better. We get extremely anxious when something does not go our way or when that grade is 99 percent instead of 100 percent. On the flip side, men I've talked to admit that they're grateful to have passed with a B- because they know that their worth does not come from a number. 

This also happens in relationships where we overthink their emotions, how often they reply back to our text messages and other small gestures. It takes us a few months, advice from 12 other people and online articles to tell us the signs of whether they're serious or not about the relationship. When in reality, we could just be a little more straightforward and ask them about what they think. Men do not have the power to speculate or control our feelings, but we do. In fact, sometimes relationships end not because of something that went wrong, but because of us stressing out about something that should be left as it is.

4. Learn to get what you want

Men believe that they deserve what they want and that's how they end up getting what they want. Men are not afraid to pursue the prettiest girl on the block and their persistence to pursue the girl is where they practice the art of resilience when looking for jobs. I cannot count how many times my girlfriends told me that they're scared to talk to a good looking man because they think that they're not on their level. This is an attitude that also reflects in their careers because this leads them to shy away from applying to the best jobs or asking for a raise, solely because they think that they don't deserve it. Women stress about satisfying others first, and they don't realize that asking for what they deserve or for a simple favor wouldn't actually hurt that much. 

Learning from men does not mean that you need to get rid of your sexiest high heels or to turn yourself into a man to excel in your career. Learning from men does not, at all, means that you're putting your fellow sisters down or having the mindset that you're better than them. Learning from men also does not mean that you're dragging men down to feel good about yourself. We grow to plant seeds on other people's pots, we fill our cups to fill other people's and we are empowered to empower other people. 

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