International Women’s Day: Choose To Challenge

The following blog was written by Rimla Akhtar for The Good Board for IWD 2021. The original piece can be viewed here –
International Women’s Day: Choose To Challenge with Rimla Akhtar MBE — The Good Board

Time, perhaps, is our most in-demand resource. Our pace of life continues to increase, as we’re being kept more and more busy. As my mother says, we’re human doings right now, not human beings.

So, what about time? Time to be, to stop and think through, to reflect, to understand where we stand and, most importantly, to really know why we do so. 

The fact is that if I hadn’t taken time 10 years ago to really think about my intentions in life, to define my purpose and what brings me joy, and to align that with my work life as well, I wouldn’t find myself in the position I’m in today, working in some fantastic roles. I’m in roles with which I have a heart connection and through which I feel I’m making a positive difference in the world. 

Not everyone has to take a detour in their career like me – your impact is within your sphere of influence and using the resources you have. And your impact matters. 

So, I’m choosing to challenge you. The one person reading this. Take the personal responsibility to challenge yourself first and foremost. Don’t just look at the actions, or inaction, of others. Start with you. Look at where you can make a positive difference within you. Give yourself the time and space to really reflect and be(come) self-aware, make the changes within yourself first, because that creates the ripple effect in everyone who comes across you.

We seem to find a sense of safety in only believing what we always have, only behaving in the way we always have, and in expecting others to think and be in the way we do.  Our world is becoming increasingly polarised, with little acceptance (not tolerance, as some choose to describe it) in society of diversity of thought, opinion and experience. At the same time (and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence), there are so many historical and more recently developed social and environmental injustices that require firm and swift action. It’s up to us to take responsibility to make that positive difference in our own small or big way.

What are your biases? Do you just believe what you read or hear about others? Are you in an echo chamber where everything and everyone reinforces what you believe? Do you seek alternative views and opinions?  Where could you be better and more open? Is it about being more compassionate, understanding, vocal or supportive? Is it about listening and accepting more?

This might sound like a lot, but it’s actually the simplest thing.

The word “jihad” has been so misused when speaking of my faith: Islam. It actually means to “struggle” and we’re taught that the greatest struggle is with oneself. It is most simple, yet most difficult, to look within. But, the beauty is that, when you do, you have the potential to achieve the most stunning growth. And, if we each do just that for ourselves, one person at a time, we’ll be building the more just, better world we so desperately want to see.