You know that you are meant to be doing something much bigger than you do now. You are even scared to say it out loud because no one would understand. Well, bring in your biggest dreams and your biggest fears and I will help you get there faster than you ever thought possible.
Recent research by Pew Research Center revealed 48% of women working in a male dominated STEM environment say ‘their gender has made it harder for them to succeed in their job.’ Being a woman also made it more difficult to secure a promotion. Fortune notes only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies have a woman at the helm. With International
Women’s Day just passing by (March 8th), it’s timely to discuss how women can smash through the glass ceiling on route to a successful and fulfilling career at the top.
As much as I could write for days about the faux pas of forgetting your roots, not updating your skills, not setting clearly defined goals, clambering over others in an ambitious ploy to get ahead… and how these can be detrimental to achieving a successful, fulfilling career, I want to delve deeper, right down to those challenges not many people talk about.
You know, the ones that matter.
And when you throw ‘fulfilment’ into the mix… Well, many forget to consider life satisfaction early in their career, with the resultant later regret.
After six years in the corporate management realm and three as a high-performance coach, I’ve discovered there are some common threads, some familiar mistakes, that hold women back from achieving their impossible and a life they love.
What are they? I’m glad you asked!
1. Being Comfortable in the Grey Zone
It’s common to become so darn good and praised for something, that you settle right down into that comfortable space. This is a mistake many highly talented women make. When you perform at a significantly higher level than those around you and are constantly looked up to as the expert — the companies veritable bees knees — the push from your team can drop away. Those who can move you forward may be off leading other teams not beside you, egging you forward. When you are a high performer, this adulation can be addictive, although not constructive.
The higher up the ladder you climb, whether in your own business or another’s, the less constructive criticism is on offer. Those below you don’t want to risk retaliation, those above you are contented… After all, your work is at a high standard. Little do they know what you might be able to achieve, if you’re brutally honest with yourself.
While you may be an elite performer, ticking off targets and growing a good team, compared to playing at your full capacity, you’re treading water. In the long run, this will cause you to underperform.
So, what can you do about it?
The moment you realise what you do is no longer significantly challenging; the point at which you recognise you achieve set tasks efficiently leaving ample time to twiddle your thumbs, bored and under challenged, it is time to chase that next challenge and push your boundaries further. As they say, if you’re not growing you’re dying. It’s time to move forward and create a new legacy.
2. Your Mentor - The Be All and End All?
What is more damaging than not having a support network? Having the wrong kind of support.
While you know you are meant for something greater than your current position, your company may not realise… or even have the know-how to enable you to achieve it.
It is at this point many smart people seek out a mentor.
However, there’s a catch. A mentor can only help you with something that s/he has done. They can only show you what they have achieved, given the circumstances they were working in. So, if you are reaching for a goal that somebody else has attained, this might be the best move. They can illuminate the best path forward for you, and support you as you progress.
But if you are one of the rare creatures, with an entrepreneurial heart and spark, who dream of following the path less travelled… even a path not yet created… this could either slow you down or jam you abruptly and unhappily on the wrong path. You need to find a high performance coach who will support you in chasing the unthinkable and encourage, guide and focus you on the best way to achieve the impossible.
If you wanna play a much bigger game, you need the right support network around you to challenge you, help you discover the secrets to break through previously unbroken barriers and do it (kind of) comfortably in your own skin.
This will determine how far you go.
3. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
The mindset harnessed, strategies followed, tactics used and people followed to get you here simply won’t get you there.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”
– Albert Einstein
Ok, so where you are now isn’t a problem per se, but Albert’s words clarify a truth. You are here because of your current thinking. To change, to achieve more, to explode from your current cocoon in a vivid array of accomplished colours, you need to grow and alter your mindset further.
As most would understand, you need a new set of skills to achieve something bigger, better and more fulfilling. But that’s where a lot of people stop.
And this will lead to a profound, potentially painful downfall.
Most of the time, in my experience, skill (or the ‘how to’) is the last element lacking. If you are chasing your next big thing and, after trying for a while you’re still not there, it’s because you haven’t quite achieved the right mindset. To explain in the simplest terms, the mindset you require at an employee level is completely different to being your own boss. An employee mindset in a business owners body is a sure fire way to failure.
This may sound like a fluffy topic, although the world of neuroplasticity and brain science shows it isn’t. And this single reason could explain why you haven’t got to where you want to, yet.
The incredible thing is, I’ve seen a two-second insight transform an entire outlook. This is how some elite-performing people have changed the world, sometimes overnight.
So, a crucial question to ask yourself honestly is, what beliefs do you hold that are getting in the way?
4. Ignoring Values That Stab You In The Back
Whether the desire is a new role, a pay rise or a specific client on the books, everything we do as humans is driven by deep rooted values. Most of the time these values are hidden, laying under the cover of subconsciousness, peddling the wheels that move the cogs of our actions. We cannot not see them when we look from above.
If you are not aware of these values, conflict will invariably arise. If I asked you now what values you hold, the chances that you would really know the deep-down true values that pedal those cogs are very slim.
Confronting? Yes! You might even be filled by a flurry of thoughts shouting, ‘She doesn’t know what she’s talking about?’ That’s ok too. Stick with me…
Let’s explore the true story of one of my past clients.
She was consciously driven to become incredibly successful in her field. She’d watched her family struggle financially when growing up, and didn’t want that for her own. Yet when she was a child, her parents often commented that, ‘successful people take advantage!’ In her case, she couldn’t permanently reach further than a certain level. Higher level success came, and with it, sufficient self-sabotage to pull her back down to where her hidden values thought she should be.
Gay Hendricks also talks about this in his book, The Big Leap.
It’s not uncommon.
Firstly, understand your highest values before working you way up the ladder; the sooner the better. That way, you will enjoy your successes, have an easier path, and both get the very best from, and become your very best self.
Secondly, make sure you are acutely aware of any conflicting, competing values. Work on these before they do real, irrevocable harm.
Thirdly, if these values have been undermining your efforts and subverting your success, now is the time to deal with them.
5. Assuming It's A Straight Line
Accept and embrace the convoluted path to higher level success. See in the earlier days, there was less to lose. Less pay, pride, and position. As you rose to lofty ranks, the way down now appears perilous, full of dangers and deadly depths. So you take less risks in order to remain on top of your perch. However, it was the risks that previously reaped each new reward.
The bar for success is often higher each time you take on a new role or start a fresh project. This provides the opportunity to grow and develop, to craft a new and invigorated, expansive mindset.
It also offers the chance to settle right down into that comfortable space we talked about earlier, and pass the work, responsibility and blame onto others. This is a mistake common in the highly talented fraternity.
Failure to step out onto the ledge and take educated risks results in lost opportunities, or even worse, not realising your full potential.
And remember, whatever you did to get here will not get you there, especially when you crave greater things.
Fall in love with the process. As with anything new, you sometimes have to suck for a while before competence kicks in. A step back may be needed to take 10 steps forward and leave an even greater legacy.
Now, I would love to hear from you:
What is one insight that changed everything for you from this article?
And what is one tiny action you are going to take as a result of that insight?
Use the comment box down below and share as much detail as possible in your reply as your story may help someone else have an even greater insight.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to be here.