Get real!

Have you ever had the misfortune of meeting or knowing a gender-insensitive man in your office, workplace or organization? They are not difficult to spot. These are the bunch of people who turn resentful whenever a woman is given the opportunity to shine and captivate an audience including management or leadership; and feel threatened whenever a woman is acknowledged capable to execute a man’s supposedly highly sensitive work. Get real! This is not the forties man! Today is 2004, and with that the changes in mindsets, attitudes and paradigms.

Have you ever heard of the cellular phone and texting? Telecommunications has become the global paradox. With it, the world has become both bigger and smaller at the same time. The world has turned bigger because with each technological advancement and discovery, we are expanding our horizons; and smaller because now, we can easily connect to the farthest country on earth. Thanks to telecommunications.

And yet, here we are confronted with adult men whose mindsets are remnants of the Spanish era – where women were boxed and their opportunities limited to getting married and raising children. Hello!

I can only commiserate with the miserable lives of these men whose attitudes on women are very parochial and stereotypical. Their minds are so small and shallow. No wonder they have not gone a notch higher in stature and prominence.

It’s not enough that they sabotage a woman’s best effort; they even go to the lengths of assassinating her character. And with that, they start thinking they have won the game. Sorry people, women are cut out differently. Let us revisit the strength of women, shall we? Women are stronger emotionally. Women keep families intact. Women hold the balance in the family. A woman is the epitome of equilibrium through all the bad and tough times. That’s why we dearly love our mothers.

There are also supposedly younger men who have become disciples of these narrow and shallow-minded gender-insensitive adult men. You think that because they were born much, much later, they are more attuned to the changes in the world. You think wrong. These young gender-insensitive men easily fall on the list of disciples because they don’t know anything at all. They don’t read books and don’t adopt new thoughts and paradigms. They simply remain ignorant, dull, and worse, mediocre. Poor men. To think, they come from a younger generation.

So what do women do given the undeserved criticism of these traditional, dull, mediocre small-minds? I can only venture one recommendation. Take the high road and continue making a difference. You owe it to your Maker to maximize your gifts. According to the “Purpose-Driven Life” book, “by maximizing your potentials, you give greater glory to God who in the larger picture, made you for a purpose. Remember you did not happen by chance; God planned you.”

Sustain the desire to excel in the areas of your expertise and be the best in your field. The world will not stop to listen to the gripes and bitterness of a gender-insensitive man. If you listen to him, you give him undeserved attention. What good does that do to you? None. Remember, it’s not a woman’s problem if a man’s mind is small, shallow, traditional, and mediocre. If an adult man wants to grow up, by all means, let him. If he needs help, assist him. Bring him to gender-sensitivity trainings; women forums, and other women-related activities; provide him good books. 

But if his only concern is to criticize you and drag you down, forget it. As the book “Maximize the Moment” says, “some luggage is not worth carrying with you. It will only pull you down with its weight. You are better off without it.”

It has always been said that acceptance of a new reality or paradigm is a difficult and painful process. It involves embracing a new life – new attitude; new approach; new outlook while discarding the old life – old attitude; old approach; old outlook. It takes courage to take on something new, which brings discomfort and lots of fears at the start; and more courage to get rid of something that we have been comfortable with for a long, long time. Continuing on the path of denial may seem easier for a time, but if we honestly try to have a fresh look from the outside, we will soon realize that we have more to lose than gain. After all, the world will not stop turning on our behalf. It will continue turning without us.

If he wants to learn it the hard way, so be it. Sooner or later, it will sink in and from his new awareness, growth. But by then, you will have made your mark.

(This article was originally written for a newspaper column in 2004.)



Core values

What is the essence of leadership? Integrity. It’s as simple as that. I have read so many books on leadership written by both female and male authors, and their dissertation all boils down to one basic ingredient of leadership – integrity.

The past many weeks, we have been bombarded with attacks and counterattacks, offense and defense, call it whatever you want, on television, print, and radio, by either the opposition or administration camp, and all because of a recorded conversation between two persons.

I do not wish to explore the issue. It’s an overkill, to say the least. What I care about is the integrity of the leader, the first person referred to in the recording.

Why it took the leader so long to admit that she was the first person referred to in the recording is beyond me. Perhaps lack of courage. Perhaps waiting for the opportune time – after all, timing is everything. Perhaps waiting for the right public relations spin.   Whatever maybe the reason, it is moot and academic now. Everything is in the open. In fact, it’s like a market place now. It’s a circus. It’s very lamentable.

The leader has apologized to the country. It must have been an excruciatingly painful moment to admit one’s mistake after having been silent for a time. After the public apology, the circus has expanded.

Integrity cannot be compromised. When one occupies the highest position of the land, there are certain core values one has to uphold. A close friend of mine who occupies a position of leadership himself says, “all elections are dirty”; “all politicians do dirty tricks”; “is there a better substitute?”; “what we can do now is unite, support and contribute for the welfare of the country”; “the Filipinos are not politically mature as a people”, etc… I remember saying, “is that an excuse for us to condone lying and compromising integrity?”

I know that elections are perceived to be dirty in this country; all the more the lot of politicians, which is really unfair given the fact that there are many good women and men in politics, but maybe this is the beginning of maturity. Who knows? If we must walk on our bended knees to grow as a people, so be it. There is always a reason for everything. The good book says that. And I do not believe that we lack for good people to lead this country. That’s totally unacceptable. It’s a slap on the face of the Filipino.

I always respect righteous indignation. This comes out when deception is uncovered or a wrong is exposed. Naturally, people get angry when they are taken for a ride.

Time and again, we have always been asked to unite, support and contribute for the welfare of the country. I have heard this appeal since I was a kid. That’s why most of my professional life is devoted to government service because I want to contribute to society. But that is no excuse for compromising the truth.

John Maxwell, an author specializing on Leadership books, puts it bluntly, “it’s lonely up there”. True, it’s lonely to occupy a position of leadership for you are viewed from a magnifying lens, and everything you do or not do, will be interpreted differently by different people. Most of the time, you are alone. That’s how lonely it can get. But that is part and parcel of the sacrifice if one aspires a position of leadership. One will not become a leader if he or she does not aspire it. You have it because you aspired for it. It’s as simple as that.

That’s why it is essential to be surrounded by good men and women with impeccable character to consult with; supported by a group that consistently prays for the leader to be guided by wisdom and discernment when decisions are made on issues that affect the country and its people.

It’s not easy to be a leader. It can break one’s heart. It is a big sacrifice. But no matter how gargantuan the sacrifice is, there is still no compromise on integrity.

Note: This article was originally written by the author in 2005 for her newspaper column.