"Ignore the glass ceiling and do the work. If you're focusing on what you don't have, focusing on the limitations, then you will be limited." - Ava Duvernay
The continuing scarcity of senior women leaders at the top creates a need for a new paradigm on how women show up in the workplace. We are no longer constrained by the glass ceiling because we get to break through it if we can learn a new way of showing up.
It’s time for the women to take their place at the top without excuses.
Marcus Buckingham said it best; “Break ALL The Rules!”
Women have a need to take care of others. For the most part, it’s in our DNA. That’s why evolution made us the mothers in society. But the problem is we focus too much on taking care of others, and we leave little time for ourselves, our career, and our life goals.
We need new rules. And we must continue to break them as we reinvent new ones. It’s the natural cycle of growth and change.
Rule #1 – TAKE CENTER STAGE
You are the most important person in your life. A friend shared with me a conversation she had with her husband when she said, “I love you,” his response was, “I love you too, but I love me more.”
It’s a telling response since he had a very good sense of his value in the world, and that self-love equals greater love for those around you.
Be the caretaker, the mother, the compassionate sister of mercy, but PLEASE make sure you are taking care of you first. Just like the mask on an airplane, you need to put it on first. No one notices wall flowers, but they notice the redhead with the sassy walk, and the full of herself attitude that gets things done.
Rule #2 – PROCEED UNTIL APPREHENDED
It’s okay to maintain your collaboration, your caring, and your nurturing self, but please don’t ask if it’s okay if you proceed. Far too many women seek validation and approval which limits your ability to create an impact.
Act decisively to make things happen. Stop asking permission and start putting forward these great ideas you’ve been sitting on, and start campaigning for the roles you want. Nobody gets very far when you’re waiting on other people to make the decision for you.
And if there’s someone standing in front of you with a know-it all attitude, then your job is to come prepared with the right information and start the conversation to move your goals forward.
Rule #3 – PROJECT THE POWER OF YOU
Why do we continue to ask people if it’s all right? Or apologizing for taking up space by saying “sorry to bother you.” You know what I’m saying. That Uriah Heep ‘ever-so-humble’ stuff that gets in the way of making decisions and taking the actions that lead you forward.
Modesty is fine in moderation, but too many times women take it to the extreme. What happens? They get passed over, ignored, undermined. Enough of that. Stop apologizing for your success. Own It! You deserve it. If you’re not feeling confident about that, then fake it until you believe it.
Stand up tall, plant your feet and take a deep breath with your arms extended. Fill the room with you, and then go the meeting. Make eye contact, watch that little girl voice, and match your facial expression with that powerful body of yours. Watch the reactions in the room and take credit for who you are. Strong, Smart and Capable.
"Don't think about making women fit the world - think about making the world fit women." - Gloria Steinem
Rule #4 – BE POLITICALLY SAVVY
Okay. We know it’s 4.30am and you’re working on that presentation you are giving in two weeks’ time! I also know you worked at least 60 hours last week, attended three networking events, and put in time with your family while doing household chores. While no one could accuse you of being a slacker, your stress is beginning to show. Is this serving you? Could you do it differently? A few easy questions.
Are you developing a strong network of meaningful connections to extend your influence?
Do you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and who could help you get there? Are you building strong alliances, sponsors and collaborations to achieve your desires?
If you’re not doing all of this, then start now. You have more support around you than you think. Start looking for it.
Rule #5 – PLAY TO WIN
Are you a door opener who allows other people to walk in first? Do you feel like the other person has a better reason to be there before you? Are other people’s desires more important than your own?
Now, I’m not asking you to behave like a hole that begins with an A…but do you really want to come in second?
Playing it safe is staying in your comfort zone, which, let’s get honest here, is really your discomfort zone. Decades of resentment and frustration at watching someone else get all the accolades, the work, the benefits takes its toll.
So here’s what I want you to think about the next time you give someone the space to go ahead of you.
Seize the opportunity to show what you’re made of. Talk about the contributions you’re making.
Ask for what you want, and expect to get it.
Take bigger risks, and make yourself visible at the next meeting, the next conversation, the next confrontation.
Take on high-stakes projects that you have no idea in hell if they will work, but you’re willing to take the risk and use your ingenuity, your creativity, and your masterful sense of self-worth to make it happen.
Build your credibility and your influence by showing up in the best places, giving your ideas an airing, and asking how you can serve others with a view to serving your own needs too.
You were born to win!
Rule #6 – EMBRACE ALL PERSPECTIVES
Life is not an either/or. It’s a both/and choice.
Choice is always present, and even when you think you don’t have a choice, you make one by choosing nothing.
Learning how to be flexible, and deal with ambiguity is the mark of great self-awareness, self-control and mastery of your emotions.
Next time you are confronted with the either/or stop and think if there is another alternative. How can you satisfy your own needs, and the needs of another?
My favorite quote is from Tony Robbins who said; “The quality of your life is determined by how much uncertainty you can comfortably live with!”
Embracing all perspectives means that there are no comfortable answers, but you are willing to explore possibilities.
Be compassionate, be generous, and be humble. We don’t know all the answers, but the fun is in the discovery of what they are.
Lend a hand to someone who is on the way up, stop and inquire how someone else is doing, and suspend all judgment so you can be open to receiving amazing information that will elevate your life to new heights.