Chase your dreams for your child to grow up with a role model

From an early age, parents must actively guide their children towards finding and emulating a role model. Of course, this pattern can change over time as the child grows. But having an idol can go a long way in helping kids work tirelessly towards their passion, and if they face challenges along the way, the motivation this role model can provide is unparalleled.

As I mentioned earlier, my personal role model is my mother, a professional who raised a family wonderfully while managing her career. She inspired me to be an ambitious woman myself. From her, I learned to pursue my passion in parallel with having a family. She always planned her days meticulously, drawing on the help of my grandparents, my father, domestic help and nurseries. Later, when my sister and I were teenagers, she trusted us to be competent enough to take care of ourselves. She always knew how to manage every aspect of her life; she was the Wonder Woman I had around me at every stage of my life. By following his path, I too entered the world of finance. Her success inspired me and pushed me to give my best academically.

It is refreshing to see that women now have several female role models in various fields – academics, sports and business – which were previously lacking. For example, I have noticed in recent years that cricket in India is gaining momentum among young girls, with successive exemplary performances from our women’s team. This led many girls to look up to Mithali Raj (Captain of India Women’s National Cricket Team) as a role model and pursue professional cricket. Such idols are not just limited to cricket. Badminton has PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, tennis has Sania Mirza, athletics has Dutee Chand and Hima Das and boxing has Mary Kom, among other shining examples. We are now seeing more and more girls getting into sports professionally and harboring the ambition of one day representing India on the international stage.

Awakening the Rainmaker, by Nishtha Anand; Bloomsbury, 292 pages, Rs. 599

Seeing an admirable and relatable role model shatter the glass ceiling and set records gives many others the firepower and motivation to give it a shot too. Generally, people are inspired to do something when they see others doing it. When women see other women in successful roles, they find it easier to aspire to the same heights. Seeing more women in leadership positions will not only encourage others, but will also raise awareness among their parents, peers and the wider community of the immense opportunities available to young girls. But it’s not just female idols that can inspire women, men can be role models too! A model should not be chosen based on their gender. Cricketer Shafali Verma has become the youngest Indian to reach an international half-century at the age of 15. By reaching that 50, she broke the 30-year-old record of Sachin Tendulkar, who was 16 when he reached his first test in half a century. Interestingly, Shafali’s professional role model is Sachin Tendulkar. His personal inspiration and support was his father, who wanted to become a cricketer himself but couldn’t due to family pressures. Similarly, Sheryl Sandberg’s professional role model is Mark Zuckerberg, just as Warren Buffett is the role model for several women who want to be amazing investors and great leaders. Male leaders who understand the importance of diversity in the workplace and encourage it are also an inspiration, a positive reinforcement to give wings to ambitions.

As a young woman, make your choices freely. Chase your dreams – you might want to get out into the world or you might be someone whose happiness lies in staying at home. The key is to make your own choices, free from guilt, and not fall into the mold of society’s expectations. …

For today’s generation of young women, I say you need to learn to trust your own life choices, to value yourself for the contribution you make by staying home or going out. Be the change you want to see in the world. You are the only person who can change your life. Change will come slowly, one day at a time; do not lose hope. Eventually, you will learn to love yourself and value your dreams.

Just as you work tirelessly for your family, you must find the motivation within yourself to work for your dreams. Make your own choices from a position of self-confidence, not as a compromise or because someone else made the choice for you. There is simply no age barrier to do so! You may be a young woman just starting out, in your 30s or 40s, married with young children, or even older, with years of wisdom behind you. Take that first step in the journey of valuing yourself and pursuing your passion.

Excerpted with permission from Wake up the rainmaker by Nishtha Anand, published by Bloomsbury India

Rebecca R. Santistevan