20 golden nuggets of advice to smash that glass ceiling

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.

1. 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.

When you identify your purpose, you will feel more confident in the decisions you make. Your purpose will keep you focused and give you the confidence to simplify a complicated world.

2. Be accountable to yourself

I knew from an early age that I wanted independence. I didn’t want to rely on other people. I wanted to be self-sufficient and in control of my life so I could determine my own success or failure and have the career and family balance that so many said was impossible. To have this independence I knew I had to be accountable for my own actions and behaviours. I could not blame other people for my actions, inactions, or outcomes. It was up to me.

Be accountable to yourself. Own your actions, inactions, successes, and failures. Then, you will make better decisions, learn faster, and take bigger strides in your career.

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 and this belief helped me make my dream a reality. If you do not believe in yourself, no-one else will. Believe in yourself and believe that you can make the impossible happen. Small and imperfect steps keep you progressing and every small step smashes another little piece of that glass ceiling.

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 actually 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 against the obstacles. They are there for you to learn, grow, and understand more about yourself. Whether you leap, climb, or crawl, keep tackling your obstacles so you can keep moving forward.

5. Learn from everyone and everything

I spent my life watching other people and learning from them. Listening to advice, podcasts, videos, and books. From early on I committed myself to learning something, even one tip or perspective, from every conversation and interaction I had. Personal and professional. Everything and everyone was an opportunity to learn so I could take on new perspectives, diversify my thinking, implement ideas, systems, and theories into my life. In turn, this lead to innovation, deeper knowledge, and a better understanding of life and work.

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 a diverse range of people you will learn alternative perspectives that challenge your thinking and keep you grounded.

Start making it a habit to learn from everyone and everything. Small bite size pieces of learning, everyday. It is amazing what you will uncover.

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.

Start making the choices in your support network and surround yourself with the right people. It is amazing how valuable a positive growth mindset is to the decisions you make.

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 your values not only builds your reputation and credibility, it also helps you make the hard decisions to walk away from people, customers or companies that are not aligned to your values. It is worth spending the time to understand what your values are and how you can communicate them.

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, I 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. When times are hard, keep going. Even if it is only one small step forward, it is still a step forward. Do not give up.

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. Routinely practicing and implementing emotional intelligence on a daily basis is the next, and most important 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 environment 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.

If you are not sure what your personal brand is, that is OK. Invest some time into understanding what it is so you can create a plan to communicate it.

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.

Having a goal can be intimidating but it can also give you clarity and a clear roadmap in how to achieve it. If an ultimate goal is to much, clarify your goal for the next 12 months. Big or small a goal will give you clarity and direction.

 

14. You create the world you want to live in

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.

Having a goal can be intimidating but it can also give you clarity and a clear roadmap in how to achieve it. If an ultimate goal is to much, clarify your goal for the next 12 months. Big or small a goal will give you clarity and direction.

 

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. The mentor network continues to build.

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.

If you are not ready for a coach, then choose a selection of mentors. People are willing to support you and can provide you will a safe environment to learn and grow.

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. I have made conscious choices everyday.

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 has been 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. 

Michelle Obama summed it perfectly

There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.

Thank you.

Hunton Executive can help you plan for your career and give you the confidence to make the right decisions. 

For comprehensive support throughout your career contact Hunton Executive 

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related Articles