On the day I launched my new business I received a messaged from a previous employee. The message said “congratulations – another glass ceiling has been shattered”.
This message really struck a chord with me. It helped me realise two important things:
1 – I did shatter a glass ceiling and
2 – That my actions influence other people
This got me thinking. If I can shatter a glass ceiling, so can you. I am no different to anyone else. So how did I break that glass ceiling?
When I coach and mentor people, especially women, I offer the same advice. I tried to reduce this advice into 20 easy to read segments.
So, here we go…my 20 nuggets of advice.
- Identifying your purpose early
Without realising it I identified my purpose early on in my teenage years. I was influenced by my parents and my surroundings. My keen interest in psychology and business and the impact external factors had on human behaviour kept me focused on my purpose. If I veered away, my purpose bought me back to the right direction.
2. Be accountable to yourself
The reliance and dependence on someone else bothered me. I knew from an early age that I wanted independence. To have my own money and career as well as a family. I wanted it all. I wanted to be self-sufficient and in control of my life so I could determine my own success or failure. To do this I knew I had to be accountable for my own actions and behaviours. If I wanted independence, I could not blame other people for my actions and outcomes. It was up to me.
3. Believe you can make the impossible happen
Most people said that it is impossible to have it all. You cannot have a career, a family, and financial success. It is this perception from people in society that creates the ominous glass ceiling. I completely disagreed! Why would anyone let a glass ceiling get in the way. Glass can easily be broken. It is only impossible if you let it be. I let myself believe I can achieve it.
4. Remove the obstacles in front of you.
There will always be obstacles in front of you. Big or small. There will always be something. An obstacle does not mean it is a problem, if you look at it carefully it is an opportunity for you to learn something you didn’t know before. It is important to appreciate the obstacles and accept they will be there.
In my career if there was an obstacle (and there were many), I would figure out how to overcome it. Sometimes I leaped over it, sometimes I crawled under it, and other times I hit the obstacle face on. Do not fight it. Every obstacle is actually a fantastic learning opportunity
5. Learn from everyone and everything
I knew nothing was going to stop me from getting what I wanted. I spent my life watching other people, listening to advice, and learning so I could implement ideas, systems, and theories that suited my life and my values and that would help me to achieve my goal. To really learn and grow surround yourself with people from different cultures, geographical regions, lifestyles, genders, generations, and life experiences. When you invest your time in learning from diverse people you will learn alternative perspectives that keep you grounded and give you a diverse way of thinking. Diversity leads to innovation.
6. Have the right people around you
Choose the right people to have around you. I have a very supportive husband that supported me through the ups and downs and motivated me to keep going. I have friends that encourage, comfort, and celebrate with me. I have had supporters that give me honest and direct feedback that I have respected and that has made me a better person. Importantly I learned to remove toxic people from my life that only want to bring me down but do not see the value in optimism. By removing toxicity you can free yourself to more opportunity.
7. Know your values
To be able to achieve my goal and to overcome any obstacles I knew I had to be clear in my values. It was these values that kept me on the right path to my end goal. I grew up learning the value of hard work, committing to and completing tasks, trying my absolute best at everything, and striving for more. Making decisions based on our values builds your reputation and credibility. It also helps you make the decision to walk away from customers that are not aligned to your values.
8. Do not give up
I have a fire in my belly that refuses to give up. I may stumble at times, or a lot, but I never give up. No matter what, just keep going. I realised that I did not need to make big steps all the time. It was the smaller steps that really counted. Part of not giving up is also being patient. Patience goes hand in hand with resilience.
9. Improve your emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence has been a buzz word for so many years. By simply wanting to learn and improve your skills and character are steps in the right direction. By acknowledging you need to improve demonstrates you have some self-awareness. I thought I was emotionally intelligent, but I was not. I had to work hard at improving this skill overtime. It was confronting but an important tool to make me a better person and entrepreneur. It is this area of capabilities that helped me take my strides in life. When I understood how to manage my emotions and understood other people’s emotions the rollercoaster wasn’t so extreme. Take small steps. Building your emotional intelligence is not a quick course you can check off your list. It takes time and a lot of practice. Being aware of it is the first step.
10. Being a role model
I am always conscious that I am a role model to my children, my friends, colleagues, customers, and networks. Being a role model is so important to me and it keeps me on track, especially when imposter syndrome sparks some negative thinking.
Every day I consciously consider if my actions and behaviours are showing myself and others that anything is possible. If my behaviour and actions don’t show this, I change them. If they are, I reward myself with having a sense of pride and satisfaction.
You may not realise it but you are a role model to someone. Don’t take it for granted.
11. Understand you will not always get it right
I do not always get it right. In fact, I get it wrong a lot. But I actually like to get it wrong because then I can learn. It can be confronting but unless you make a mistake you are not growing. This is an important lesson!
Embrace the mistakes. Acknowledge them and in a way, be proud of them. They will make you better as a person and in your job.
12. Create and build your personal brand
Part of my journey in creating a successful career and family balance was understanding my personal brand and using that in my networking. I knew early on that my reputation and personal brand was created through my performance, behaviour, and the results I delivered. That always stuck with me.
Your personal brand is exactly that, it is yours. No one else’s. So, it really is up to you to be in control of it. I consciously built my personal brand which then helped me build my credibility with my networks. It is my networks that have helped me be successful and where I am today. The cheapest and most effective form of advertising is the recommendations you get from your networks.
13. Have a goal
My goal was to be a CEO and have my own business. It was a very big goal and when I was younger, I really was not sure I could achieve it. But having a big audacious goal helped me to plan a roadmap to get there. I knew the skills I would have to be proficient in, the experience I would need to have, and the person I would need to become.
I had a plan and I worked hard to achieve it. By having a plan, I did not sweat the small things. I could maintain an objective point of view because I knew it was a means to an end.
14. You create the world you want to live in
I knew that I had to create the world that suited my values, purpose, and life. I did not want to put the control in someone else’s hands. Over the years of working hard I demonstrated my worth to the businesses I worked in so when I had my three children, I was able to have flexibility. I worked hard, kept my focus on my values and purpose, and created the opportunity for flexibility myself. I did not wait for it to be offered to me. I created it. You always have a choice. To create the world you want to live in you need to deliver results. When you deliver you build trust. It is this trust that forms the basis of your ultimate control.
15. Family always comes first
Family is so important, and I have always been conscious to create the opportunities to be there for my children so I could balance career and family. I always made sure I was present and visible for every important moment for my kids at school, weekend sports, dinner, and bedtime. If you can not get a balance with your family, you run the risk of burn out. If you burn out, you are no good to anyone – yourself, your family, or work. Get your priorities right and work to live, not live to work.
16. Your career is your choice
In my career I have worked hard to climb the ladder. I worked longer hours than most people, and every goal or target I overachieved, making sure I never over promised or under delivered.
I pushed myself to show customers, colleagues, and management that hard work and results are not about age, gender, or social situation it was about the quality of the work that a person delivered.
This was a choice I made, and it was a conscious one. I knew the industry I was passionate about and the way I could make a difference in the world. Because it was my choice the accountability was on me.
Your career is your choice, not anyone else’s. When it is your choice you not only have accountability for it, you will be in the driving seat accelerating it.
17. Be bold
You need to be fearless. You will make mistakes, I did. All the time. But I kept moving forward. Every time I took bold steps, I jumped in with both feet. Life would be boring if you did not take risks. The bolder steps you take, the more confident you become. The more confident you become, the more decisive you are.
Being bold is scary. With the right support structure around you, you can achieve it. You need to let go of any ego. If your bold step fails, at least you tried. If you worry about your ego you will never actually make those bold steps.
18. Get a mentor or coach
I have 6 mentors from all different backgrounds and ages. The only way I can truly understand is to get the perspective from different lenses. You can only do this when you have diversity in your mentors. This really was a significant game changer for me. Advice, honest feedback, and support can make a difference to the decisions you make.
I have built my mentor network over time by asking for catch ups and asking for feedback. Overtime these relationships became mentorships that I reciprocated.
Coaches are important. When you have no one to be vulnerable with a coach can give you a safe environment to be you. A coach is not a cheerleader. They are there to guide, teach, and consult. Most importantly they are there to listen when you need it most and when you don’t think you need it.
19. Check your attitude
Generally, I have a positive, can-do attitude but occasionally I have a fixed mindset that prevents me from seeing opportunities.
Every day I check in on my attitude and have an honest appraisal of myself. Your attitude makes a huge difference to your decisions, your personal brand, and your ability to achieve your goal.
Sometimes you just need a reminder. Check your attitude every day. You may surprise yourself.
20. Learn to embrace success and failure
I have succeeded and failed as a professional, business owner, wife, and mother. And that is OK.
I have learnt not to fear success or failure. If I succeed, then wonderful. If I do not then the learning I have gained has not only made me a better person, but it has made me a better businessperson.
Celebrate the small successes as well as the big ones. You deserve a pat on the back. When failure happens, big or small, remember it is part of your journey and is a gift that will develop you further.
You can have it all
For the last 18 years I have managed to balance career and family and have financial independence.
Even though I have a supportive husband and family, a network of amazing people, and mentors and coaches that have inspired me. I have created this for myself.
For all those people that say it is impossible to have it all. They are wrong.
With hard work, conscious actions, and a whole lot of determination. You can have it all.
Another glass ceiling shattered
When my previous employee sent me that message “another glass ceiling has been shattered” I realised that a big part of my brand and reputation has been to help myself, others, and my children know that the only person that can shatter that glass ceiling is you.
I will continue to help people to realise they have the ability to shatter that glass ceiling too.
There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.Michelle Obama