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Lessons from IMF's leading lady

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Like most people, I have a healthy admiration for Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund. She has been made it into celebrated lists such as the top ten Forbes’ most powerful women. Having been born and bred in what is among the world’s top ten largest economies, I always assumed she was born into a cushy existence, allowing her to explore the prestigious positions that she has held professionally.

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It was only recently when I listened to one of her interviews that I realised how misinformed I was. Her struggles and achievements highlight the intersection between family and professional pursuits, and how what we do as home-makers is intricately intertwined with our work and ultimately, the lessons we pass onto our children.

Living your potential

You spend your life with your childhood. Lagarde’s father passed away when she was 16, and her mother was left taking care of a large family single-handedly. She (her mother) was a horse rider, car racer, teacher and mother. Growing up with strong role models in her mother and grandmother, she acknowledges how extraordinary they were and how much their influence has given her confidence to succeed, even in male dominated roles. As women, living up to your potential passes on a message to your children and to other youth - that being your best self is not only beneficial, it is mandatory.

Get over it

On failure, she tells women to ‘get over it and move on’. Twice, she says, she tried to get into the National School of Administration in the French system, and both times she failed. The importance for women to take the learnings they can from situations like those, reflect on them and not allow failure to hold them back cannot be overemphasized. In one scenario you may face what you consider a failure but it could very well mean that the experience is preparing you for a bigger role down the road.

Diversity

In the face of diversity, go. Lagarde emphasises that you should pick your fights where you feel strongly but at other times, if you do not feel treated right or given the same opportunities as everyone else, in any position or circumstance, leave. Whoever it is or whichever organisation does not deserve you.

 

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