Insights (Blog) - Diversity & Flexibility Alliance

Do You Have the Mindset, Confidence & Grit to Truly Succeed?

This article by Manar Morales, President & CEO of the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance, was written for the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance.  Manar is honored to be speaking on “Mindset, Confidence & Grit: Positive Change for Positive Results” at the AFWA’s “Women Who Count Conference” at 2:15 pm on Saturday, October 28 at the Westin Alexandria, VA. Contact the AFWA for more information on registering.  


You have a top-notch degree. You’re smart. You’re a hard worker. You know where you want your career to go. But do you have the right mindset to succeed professionally in your organization? Do you have enough confidence in your skills to earn respect and a path to leadership? Do you have the grit and resiliency to overcome barriers?

Many of us are competent, but we lack the true confidence to excel. In fact, research shows that of the thousands of thoughts that run through our minds each day, up to 80% of them are negative. We have to train ourselves to have a positive mindset and fight off the negative thoughts. We also have to learn to stay true to ourselves and not allow other’s opinions and perceptions to influence our goals. By learning how to develop the right mindset, build confidence and maintain grit, we can acquire the traits needed to face difficult situations and grow professionally and personally. It’s so important to learn these skills that can affect all aspects of career development from performance to networking to self-advocacy, and beyond.

So many of the critical steps in career development depend upon your mindset, confidence and grit. When you are defining your success and mapping out your ideal path, it’s essential that you are confident you can reach your goals. It’s critical that these goals include what success looks like to you in the three main areas of your life: home, career and world. I like to call it a “360 approach to life” and it should outline what makes you happy and how you will create significance in these three areas.

When considering what makes you unique and qualified for the next step in your career you have to own your value and be able to advocate for yourself. Additionally, when obstacles do arise in your career path, you must apply a growth mindset and see the challenges as temporary setbacks and potential opportunities for growth. Remember, the only way to create a strong reputation is to believe in yourself and perceive yourself as you’d like others to perceive you. Finally, in most professions, networks, advisors, mentors and sponsors are essential to career success and these individuals can only be supportive if you are confident in your own skills and project that confidence to others.

Whether you’re new to the profession or a seasoned employee, there’s always room to evaluate where you are and where you want to be. Do you need help harnessing your confidence, mindset and grit? Ask yourself these questions:

1 Do my positive thoughts outweigh my negative thoughts?

2. Is there a gap between my thoughts and my actions?

3. Am I being truly authentic (to myself and my goals)?

4. Do I have a growth mindset?

5. Do I take criticism personally?

6. What does success look like for me?

7. Does my vision set me up for happiness in all areas of my life?

8. Are other people’s opinions influencing my goals too much?

9. Do I truly believe in my strengths and abilities?

10. Do I take risks in my career?

11. Am I surrounding myself with positive and supportive peers and co-workers?

12. Am I taking care of myself (nutritionally, physically and emotionally)?


Join Manar on October 28 at the AFWA “Women Who Count” conference to learn how to harness your confidence, mindset and grit.




Deadline for Benchmarking Survey Submissions
Extended Until September 22

Plus All Participants Get a Free 30-Minute Implementation Call

We have extended the deadline for accepting submissions to our 4th Annual Law Firm Flexibility Benchmarking Survey until close of business on Friday, September 22, 2017.  We encourage law firms to take advantage of this unique opportunity to gain valuable information and insights into the effectiveness of their flexible work policies, the biases that may be present and how they compare to the rest of the industry. Our goal is to help improve individual firm’s flex policies and help to change the culture of the industry as a whole.

In addition, once the 2017 report is released, the Alliance will offer a free, 30-minute call to all participants to discuss how to implement flexibility best practices from the report.

Five ways you’ll benefit from participating in our Benchmarking Survey

  1. An Opportunity for Self-Assessment

By completing the survey, you will, in essence, be performing a self-assessment of your firm’s flexibility policy. The questions on the survey were designed to determine holistic flexible work usage (including reduced hours, telecommuting, flexible start/end times, annualized hours and job sharing) by attorney or staff member position, gender, race and sexual orientation. By evaluating your firm’s answers you’ll have a glimpse into the successes as well as the gaps in your policy and its usage.

  1. It’s a Small Investment of Time for Large Benefits

This year’s survey has been streamlined and modified to reduce the number of questions related to usage data and attrition. The policy-related questions focus on information that is readily available to most flexibility program managers. It is our hope that those completing the survey will be able to do so in a shorter amount of time thereby making it well worth the effort for the critical data gained.

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Spotlight on Flex – Alan Bryan

The Spotlight on Flex showcases professionals from member organizations who exemplify personal and professional success while working a flexible schedule. Their stories illustrate the long-term benefits that flexible schedules offer to both individuals and organizations.

This month, we are pleased to share insights from Alan Bryan, Senior Associate General Counsel for Legal Operations & Outside Counsel Management, Walmart Stores (Bentonville, AR).

Alan BryanDiversity & Flexibility Alliance: How have you made flexibility a priority and a success through your career? How has Walmart supported this?

Alan Bryan:  I started at what was then Arkansas’s largest law firm as a general litigator where I was eventually made partner. I got engaged about eight years into my career and explored transferring to my firm’s Fayetteville’s office since my fiancée (now wife) was originally from there. I eventually relocated, and that move also caused me to reflect on where I was going in my career.

Even when I made partner, I realized my next chance for leadership at the firm (chairing a committee or being a section leader) was a long way off. I knew what I really wanted was to lead and influence people, and I had to think about what my long term options were. The firm, among other things, did not offer leadership opportunities for junior partners. Even in law school, I had always been interested in working in-house, and Fayetteville is roughly 25 miles south of Bentonville (where Walmart is headquartered). An opportunity presented itself, and I started working at Walmart managing litigation in July 2011. In May 2013, I was asked to lead all of the company’s outside law firms. Since then, I’ve also taken on the role of managing several of the legal department’s initiatives for its Legal Operations group.

In terms of flexibility, many organizations have what’s stated, but that doesn’t always correlate to the reality of what’s expected – time is finite, and time is money. That was certainly the case at my law firm – what was said wasn’t always what happened. I knew Walmart fully supported flexibility and the idea that you can manage how and where you work at the same time.   You have to find a place where you can secure what you want and get to where you want to be on your own terms.

My wife is a neo-natal intensive care nurse and primarily works the night shift. We had our first child within the first year I started at Walmart and our second child a year and a half later. The company understands I’m the only available caregiver in the mornings, and sometimes I have to shift when I arrive into the office to accommodate my kids’ schedules.

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