Welcome to the second part on the famous ‘glass ceiling’. This article focuses on key actions that you can take to crack, dissolve or smash your glass ceiling.
Breaking through or smashing a glass ceiling whether based on one’s own limiting beliefs or other people’s and/or society’s collective beliefs or a combination of both, isn’t always a walk in the park. However, it can be done and numerous women have proved this. A great way, to break or at least put cracks into a glass ceiling is to identify someone who’s already done it.
There are lot of examples of women who have reached senior management positions and are CEOs of companies. So, whether a universal glass ceiling exists or not, women can reach and be successful at senior positions. And this goes for other areas of life where women feel they have ‘glass ceilings’, be it in sports, health, finances, and hobbies or as parents.
So, look for role models – where in the world, your industry, your company etc. is a woman who has broken through a glass ceiling similar to yours?
Once you have identified women role models in your environment, make contact with them and ask them about their journey. You will find most women are happy to share their experiences.
I just love this story about Roger Bannister. He was the first one to run the ‘four minute mile’. Before he did it, it was a ‘known fact’ supported by medical studies that a mile could not be physically run under 4 minutes. In fact it was believed that it was medically unsafe to do so. After Roger Bannister ran the ‘4 minute mile’ lots of other runners also did it.
If you are unable to find any role models within your environment, check out the web. There are some great websites (see below) where you can find women who have reached senior management positions share their stories and tips. And there are websites that share women’s stories how broke through their glass ceilings for other areas of life. Just have a look and you will find the information. Do share any good websites you find, so other women can benefit!
Take a very hard look at your career plan
One of the findings of the ILM survey was that women tend to have less well defined and clear career plans than their male counterparts. Knowing that, how well defined is your career plan? How clear are you on your career goals for the next year, two years, five years?
Some women enjoy creating a vision board or treasure map for the career plan (or life plan). If you like being creative, there are lots of ways to make this exercise fun. When you consider your career plan, go with your ideal first and focus on what you want to happen not what you think is possible or available. Once you have developed your ideal career vision, then go back and review what is realistic and possible now, and what elements might need additional skills, resources, actions.
Make self-care a priority
Another finding of the ILM survey was that women have lower career confidence than men and therefore tend to climb the career ladder more slowly. Women also tend to experience more self-doubt.
No matter where these confidence issues originate from, we can raise our confidence or self-esteem levels. It just takes awareness and regular, dedicated time. As anything in life, if we do not use it we lose it. Consider your self-esteem and confidence like a muscle. If you do not use your muscles they go flabby and weak, and the same applies to your self-esteem. It needs regular maintenance.
The first step is awareness. What is your level of self-esteem and confidence in yourself? Some people like to draw this, others like to put a number between 1-10 on it (1 being very low and 10 being highest). It is useful to do this for each area of your career and life so you are able to identify the area you wish to work on. If your current level of self-esteem and confidence is lower than 5 and you feel you are stuck, do not be afraid to seek help from a qualified coach or therapist.
The second step is focus. Whatever you level of confidence and self-esteem is, pick the area you wish to work on. Initially, pick one where your confidence is not lower than 5 (if you used numbers) and identify what it would take for you to increase your self-esteem and confidence by just 1, i.e. if your level was 6, then what can you do to get yourself to a 7. Be as creative as you can be. Also consider role models and ask yourself, what would they do if they wanted to get from a 6 to a 7? If you find yourself running out of idea, there are some great books on the topic of self-care (see below).
The third step is taking action. Now that you have identified lots of possible actions, pick the one action that appeals to you most and schedule a time to do it. And ask yourself, what other things do you need to put in place for yourself, so
that you will definitely take that one action as part of your self-care?
The ideal is to set dedicated time aside for your self-care every day. Initially this may not seem possible for you if you are a busy mum or in a stressful job. So start small and set aside at least one hour a week to focus on your own self-care.
Let me know how you get on.