NO GLASS CEILING â€¦ Just Blue Sky (SM) Article by: Marcy Blochowiak
WOMEN. What an extraordinary group of people! We are so good at so many things. If you want to get something done, have a woman do it. We love a challenge. We love showing people we can accomplish so much. We also care deeply about others. We just can’t help ourselves. It is part of who we are. We love helping people. We love making a difference. We love laughing. We love contributing. The bottom line is … WE LOVE LIFE.
As Peggy Anderson said, “Great women are not considered so because of personal achievements, but for the effect their efforts have had on the lives of countless others. From daring feats of bravery to the understated ways of a compassionate heart, great women possess a common strength of character. Through their passion and persistence, they have advanced womanhood and the world.”
We live in a time when people of all backgrounds have a chance to succeed in business regardless of gender. However, it is still not uncommon for women to hit a glass ceiling and never see any blue sky. Early in my career, when I was working as a flight attendant, you would think I saw blue sky all the time. What I saw, unfortunately, was a system that was seniority- based, not performance-based, and I realized my options were limited. I made a decision then and there that my only hope was to become an entrepreneur.
Did you know…
- Women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all other U.S. firms.
- One in every 11 adult women owns a business.
- Women entrepreneurs generate over $2.5 trillion in revenues for the U.S. economy.
- More than 19 million workers are employed by women business owners.
What does this all mean? Women are great entrepreneurs! The self-discipline that allows us to run a household, handle finances, motivate our husbands and children (and most times work a full-time job), is an untapped strength we bring to our own business.
The nurturing of other people is a woman’s skill that is invaluable in the marketplace. It allows us as business leaders to be good listeners, good delegators, and, most importantly, to be able to make decisions and act on them.
THE POWER OF CHOICE
There is a great passage from Alice in Wonderland. Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire cat, “Which way do I go from here?” The cat replies, “It depends. Where do you want to go?” Alice says, “I guess it really doesn’t matter.” And the cat says, “Well then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Our destiny is made up of millions of little choices â€” forks in the road. How do you know which way to go? You need clear direction â€” a goal, a dream. And, the beautiful thing about being a woman, and being a human being, is that right now you are only one choice away from a new beginning.
I know women who are succeeding and some who are struggling. Both are in direct proportion to the choices they are making every day: the choice to work for a limiting company or the choice to start their own company, the choice to make phone calls, the choice to make sales presentations, the choice to empower and listen to people on their team, the choice to be a team player, the choice to be a leader, the choice to be a student in their field, the choice to be a great communicator, the choice to create an environment of healthy competition.
You see … choices are like habits: They can be our worst enemy or our best friend. But once you make the choice to be an entrepreneur â€” to follow a dream â€” you must not waiver. You must not lose sight of that dream. It will be the most rewarding experience of your life, and the most difficult. You will want to quit. You will question your abilities, possibly even your sanity. But if you are relentless and stay focused on your dream, you will eventually achieve it.
KEEP YOUR GOALS IN SIGHT
Experts on motivation disagree on a lot of things, but one thing they all agree on is that your levels of motivation are directly tied to your expected probabilities of success. There is nothing more powerful than a madeup mind.
Take for instance Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Her next goal, when she was 34 years old, was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.
However, on the Fourth of July morning, in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. She had been swimming for nearly 16 hours, and her body was numb. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on â€” hour after hour â€” while millions watched on national television.
Alongside Florence, in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn’t much farther. But all she could see was a solid wall of fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had … until then. With only a half-mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.
Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, “Look, I’m not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land, I might have made it.” It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.
Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land, and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men’s record by two hours.
Your goals must cut through the fog like a beacon in the night. They must always be in sight. If you believe you can do something (you can see your goal clearly in your mind), you’re likely to remain highly motivated to achieve it. However, if you lose sight of your goal and you can no longer see yourself achieving it, your levels of motivation will fall greatly.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SUPERWOMAN
So, how in the world do we accomplish great things in business and still take care of our children, husbands, home, and everything else? The answer: Stop trying to be a superwoman.
We women know that we are great multitaskers and we can get everything done on our own. But getting everything done is not always the best use of our time. If you want to stay small in business, be frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed on a regular basis, then you should continue to be a superwoman. But if you want to achieve the success you desire, trade in your cape and surround yourself with a team that can take on some of the responsibilities â€” both at work and at home.
Early in my career, I was told by several people, “Don’t hire any women. They have too many responsibilities. They have children and husbands and charities, etcetera. They will not be able to put in the time it takes to really make your business work.”
I listened to that advice for a brief time, and then I accidentally hired some women. I was ready for all the excuses, but I never heard any. I was also blown away by how much they could get done and how they were performing better than everyone else in the office. I realized we had a secret weapon. You want your business to grow â€” HIRE MORE WOMEN! And lead them with respect. They are the key to your success, and you are the key to theirs.
Someone once said to me, “Leader of one, leader of many; if you can’t lead one, you can’t lead any.” This means that the person a woman needs to lead first is herself. Leadership is the highest and most rewarding honor for a woman â€” and a great opportunity to empower people.
Becky Brodin says it best: “Leadership is not wielding authority â€” it’s empowering people.” Many leaders make the mistake of thinking that when they reach the top, they can use their position to force certain behaviors from their subordinates. We’ve all made the statement, “If I were in charge, things would be different.”
Leadership, however, is not about a power trip, but about giving power to the people under you. It’s about giving them the tools they need to do the job. â€” and do the job well.
Margaret Thatcher was a great leader. She was the first woman in European history to be elected prime minister of England. She became known as the “Iron Lady” because of her dedication to the ideals in which she believed. This can be summed up by what she once said, “Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
BUILD GREAT RELATIONSHIPS
The quality of your relationships will determine the measure of your success. You have the power as a leader to make deposits to and withdrawals from your teams’ emotional bank accounts. Deposits would be: a word of encouragement; a little note letting them know you believe in them; stretching their vision; praising and recognizing them when they have done something well; and when they have had a tough day, being a good listener and letting them know it is only temporary. On the other hand, withdrawals would be: being critical (especially in front of others); not giving them your full attention; commanding them to do something; and talking at them instead of with them.
Early on in my career when I started having a little success, I thought people should be “grateful” that they got a chance to work with me. I was more of a commander than a partner or a leader. I lost some really good people because I let my ego get in the way. I had depleted some really good bank accounts, and had to pay the price.
Remember, in building your team, it’s a “volunteer” army. When times get tough, people might quit on a business, but they’ll never quit on a friend.
EVEN EAGLES NEED A PUSH
Learn to see the hidden strengths and talents in others â€” even if they cannot see them in themselves. Each of us has untapped abilities within us, but sometimes we need a little push. There is no better example of this than a mother eagle helping her chicks discover their wings for the first time. As the eagle gently coaxes her offspring toward the edge of the nest, her heart quivers with conflicting emotions as she feels their resistance to her persisting nudging.
Why does the thrill of soaring have to begin with the fear of falling? Is it possible that this time it will not work? she wonders.
Despite her fears, the eagle knows it is time. Her parental mission is all but complete. There remains only one task … the push.
The eagle draws courage from her innate wisdom. She knows that until her children discover their wings, there is no purpose for their lives. The push is the greatest gift she has to offer. It is her supreme act of love. And so, one by one, she pushes them … and they fly.
The moral of this beautiful story (written by David McNally) is that … even eagles need a push (the title of his book).
There are many times when we all need a push to reach our full potential in life. And this push, although sometimes painful, and often scary, can be the greatest gift that any leader can give.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Never underestimate the power of one person to have an impact in this world, touching one person at a time. By tossing her pebble into the pool of life, one woman can set in motion many ripples that extend beyond her sight. Mary Kay Ash was one such woman. She was the inspirational founder and leader of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Her seed of a dream blossomed into the international company and well-respected brand it is today.
But more than that, she provided women the opportunity to reach out to other women on common ground. She gave women the power to make a difference in their own lives and in those of others. The success of Mary Kay was built on the notion of the ripple effect one woman can have among her friends, their friends, and their friends, and beyond that.
This remarkable woman was particularly known for her ability to make each person feel important. When she began her own company, she said when she walked into a room she would pretend that everyone had a sign around her neck that said … MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT Everyone wants to feel important. It is often through our connection to others that we appreciate our value. We want to feel that we are loved, that we belong, and that somehow we make a positive contribution to others.
There are as many ways for a woman to succeed as there are women. Mary Kay did it through cosmetics, Margaret Thatcher did it in politics, Oprah did it in television, and I did it in finances. What great idea â€” what great dream â€” do you have within you that has always wanted to get out?
It is easy to choose a path in life that has been well traveled by many before you and crowded by many walking beside you. There is safety in knowing the obstacles ahead and comfort and warmth from the companionship of others and certainty in destination. Embarking on a journey into the unknown requires steely courage, an adventurous spirit, a deep belief in one’s self, and simple hope for a better tomorrow.
Choose to take the risks necessary to fulfill your dream! Start today.
Sources: www.womenof.com, Â©1997-2004 www.thecompanyofwomen.com
Marcy Blochowiak is a CEO Marketing Director with World Financial Group, a member of the AEGON Group. WFG is a financial services marketing company headquartered in Duluth, Ga., with offices worldwide. Marcy leads her organization by example, and her philosophy is simple: People want to duplicate your success. Give them a master copy worth duplicating. Be the best you can be. Lead from the front. Learn more about Marcy and her powerful new book, No Glass Ceiling, Just Blue Sky.