Attention, All Superwomen!

In a Conversation with Friends, Adama Konteh Hamadi ’04 and Helen Li ‘04 discuss how to put away the cape, live intentionally, and find clarity and purpose in chaotic times.

Are you a “high-octane, high-performing, visionary” woman looking to make a significant leap career-wise? Has your inner critic been even more active during COVID times, when you find yourself struggling to perform to the high standards to which you typically hold yourself? Do you find it hard to set and maintain boundaries between work and home life, with work getting a disproportionate amount of your time and effort? 

If so, Adama Konteh Hamadi ’04 has some advice for you. 

During a recent Conversation with Friends with classmate Helen Li ’04, Hamadi, a clarity coach and life design specialist at dreamleaplive.com, discussed the “invisible scripts” we write for ourselves to justify everything from imposter syndrome to burnout. 

“Everything we want in life only requires two things, a willingness to see things differently and a willingness to have uncomfortable conversations,” Hamadi said. “Once you're willing to see things differently,  once you're willing to entertain that this may not be the only possibility for you, then you can start having hard conversations.”

Some of those hard conversations are solo endeavors: They may focus on giving yourself permission to be an imperfect learner as well as an excellent performer, or on how to more intentionally allocate your time. Others must be had with colleagues, supervisors, and workplace leaders to shape the conditions in which you will thrive. 

Of course, that can sometimes feel easier said than done, especially when individuals with intersecting and marginalized identities have inequitable access to power in the workplace. Power and privilege are themes that Hamadi explores with her clients, many of whom are Black women. 

Supervisors, mentors, and colleagues can be crucial allies to professionals from marginalized groups by cultivating safe spaces. The first step? Acknowledging that privilege exists. 

For managers and leaders hoping to empower developing professionals to speak confidently, take risks, and learn from their mistakes, Hamadi offers a range of solutions: offer leeway in how projects are executed, validate creative or unexpected approaches that achieve results, and include a wider variety of voices in decision-making processes. 

In addition to offering advice about broad, systemic changes, Hamadi shared practical tips for those hoping to start reclaiming time, sanity, or purpose today. 

Ready to combat imposter syndrome? Remind yourself of how others see you by examining why colleagues, clients, and friends praise you or regularly turn to you for advice. “That’s your superpower,” Hamadi said.  

Ready to start a new job? Make sure to advocate for yourself in your hiring negotiations by asking for what you want—not just what you think you can get. “I invite you to challenge your assumptions about what it takes to get what you want. I invite you to change your mind: about what's possible or what's required, or what it's going to look like.”

Ready to start and end the day with a calm sense of purpose? Set consistent habits, including daily reflections and journaling. “Even if it is just seven minutes [of journaling], you'd be really surprised at what you can get done.”

“If you take away nothing else, if there are no other habits that you instill or install, I would definitely suggest having protected thinking time first thing in the morning,” Hamadi said. “When you wake up, first thing in the morning and before you check your email, check in with you.”

Watch the full Conversation with Friends between Adama Konteh Hamadi ’04 and Helen Li ‘04 here.

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