#VoicesofWomen: Keep Learning Stay Happy, writes Harini Srivastava, in her winning entry at VOW. Read On!

5 min readMar 30, 2022

Once upon a time, a crow used to nest on a tree on the courtyard of a family living in a village. It used to notice the family closely. It realized that the children went to school and were hence getting smarter day-by-day. It then took its baby to the village school. The Little crow would sit at the window and learn. One day, the little crow caught a big piece of meat. It went to the nearby forest to eat in peace. As it landed on a tree branch, there came a fox who noticed the meat. The Fox said “Hello little one, I heard that you have joined school. Can you sing me a rhyme”? The fox expected the little crow to open its mouth. But the smart little one held the meat under its paw and started singing. The fox then said “I heard you dance well too. Can you perform for me”? The little crow took the piece of meat in its beak and started flapping its wings. Trying to trap it, the fox then said “can’t you sing and dance together?” The little crow flew up the tree, secured the piece of meat on a tree nook and performed both together.

This is a childhood story from my grandmother. As a child I was amazed that a crow can attend school and become smart. May be that was one of the reasons I wanted to explore formal education. However, as I grew up, I started believing in the fact

One lifetime is not sufficient for us to gain the knowledge in this world.

Just looking up a website like amazon or good reads and estimating the time required to read all the books at least once confirms it. In this perspective, just a thought of “do I need to upskill” seems to be a crime. As Einstein said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease at death”.

Decades ago, when women ventured into corporate spaces, they were learning. Learning the new corporate ways, running businesses. These women performed and took the businesses to helms of success. They even paved the path for other women to be encouraged for the corporate line up. There has been no look back since then.

There has been an intense inflow of female counterparts in all walks and at all levels. To the extent that there is peer competition amongst the women.

While the approach to problem solving is different for every woman, it stands true for men folks as well. Hence, the belief that my perspective will lead me to success is a myth.

Let me narrate another story I heard from my teacher. There lived an axe cutter working at a firm. As a diligent person he would minimize his breaks and work hard. Another man joined the firm and would take frequent breaks. At the end of the month the new wood cutter earned a better remuneration. When asked how so, the man replied “every time I would take a break I would sharpen my axe. Hence I cut more wood”. This, I believe is the approach we as individuals need to adopt. We may be having different axes, one for technical, one for financial, one for critical thinking. The idea is to keep sharpening the axes. All of them.

Each time we sharpen the axe we have an inorganic growth in our careers. Something which is uncomfortable, unsettling, differentiating. But it definitely has faster growth, better expertise and a competitive edge. The idea is to sharpen the axe.

It is not advisable that we intend to sharpen all the axes at once. It may be practically impossible and stressful.

The idea is to choose one at a time and work upon it.

May be a new mother would like to work on parenting and the new graduate wants to acquire practical technical knowledge. A middle aged woman wishes to pursue a doctorate and someone wishes to change course on psychology.

Depending on the position and requirement in the office, and the personal set up, we may choose to upskill the chosen skill. This Chosen skill will be the “Bespoke Skill” for that part of life.

One may choose only on one area and be a master. So be it. But to be successful, to be an outlier and to be visible in what we do, upskilling is mandatory.

Many may argue that this is easier said than done. We are hard pressed in all dimensions. Please accept and agree that the women run multiple shows at office, at home, at social networks and many more. The best way to get over this is to have a personal eco-system. Here are a few changes I made to my eco-system.

1. One of my senior friends once suggested “spend 10–15% of what you earn to create a support system for you”. This helped me a long way, to spend with a free hand. The feeling I get after I pay every month is that of supporting a family as suggested by another mentor- Ami.

2. Many books suggested me the importance of managing time. It came with a lot of efforts but it eventually did. I did make a choice of derailing my set routine to accommodate and study for one of the courses I decided to pursue. I lost on something. But did gain on the course. Matter of priorities.

3. Do not fret over a spick n span house which our mothers managed. I had to let loose with great difficulty. We live in a home not in a hotel.

4. Learn to laugh and let go. When someone points out a silly thing, just laugh and let go. When in doubt, sorrow or in anxiety just laugh and let go.

Remember, even the animals shed skins and plumages to look beautiful. We, humans, blessed with a thinking mind, owe it to the nature to learn and upskill.

Keep Learning- Stay Happy!

Author: Harini Srivastava is currently employed at Tata Motors and is the winner of VOW(Voices-of-Women), an annual women focused blogging contest presented by We-Ace, powered by IBM

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