There Is No “Glass Ceiling” Except The One You Invent For Yourself

What’s holding YOU back from __________?

If you want to ferret out a person’s excuses, ask them the above question. A while back at a business event I was speaking at (not in the IT industry), another attendee – a woman – decided I was the ideal person to bitch to about her hatred of “stupid men” in the workplace, and how as a woman in business, I could appreciate how much harder it is for us. Men just don’t respect you…they assume you cannot be the CEO or hold a position of power…they talk over you, belittle your contributions and ideas…they hold you back…they have a “good old boys club” and won’t let you in.

I replied, “That’s interesting. I’ve never experienced any of that. Maybe you’re inviting it somehow.” Well that went over like a turd in a punchbowl. And it’s actually a true answer about my own experience with men in business, by the way.

That’s not to say “isms” don’t exist (sexism, racism, etc.). We all have biases, including this woman against men. But what if those “stupid men” are not listening to you because your idea isn’t that well thought out? Or maybe you aren’t getting invited to the table because you’re NOT the most talented? What if you’re not getting promoted because there are other people who are working harder than you? Performing better? Simply easier to work with?  If you automatically assume it’s sexism, you can’t improve.

Here’s two things that are infinitely true: 1) You do not need EVERYONE to like you, agree with you, respect you, buy from you or support you to succeed; 2) If you are truly the BEST at what you do and are completely and totally committed to succeeding at something, absolutely no one can deny you your success, period.

As a business and marketing consultant, I get to hear all the reasons why success and financial freedom cannot be achieved, and why they (the business owner) is being held back from growing, making more money and getting more and better-quality clients.

Their market is unique. They’re in a big city and my type of marketing only works in small cities. They’re in a small town and my type of marketing only works in big cities. Their business/clients/situation is “different.” They are having family problems and their wife, kids, in-laws, brother, sister or ex is causing problems they can’t control. They don’t have any money. They can’t find the time. Their competition is too entrenched. Their competition offers a cheaper price, and “everybody” in “their” town buys on price. The economy is too bad. The economy is too good. It’s POTUS’s fault.

As long as they hold on to these excuses, they will never be able to achieve the financial success and freedom they want because they are all based on external circumstances that are entirely out of their control. If you want to know a surefire formula for failure, write down:

You Will Continue To Be Un-______________________

As Long As You Depend On Others To Make You ______________

Here are a few examples:

You will continue to be disrespected…
As long as you depend on others to make you feel respected.

You will continue to be unprosperous…
As long as you depend on others to make you prosperous.

You will continue to be unsuccessful…
As long as you depend on others to make you successful.

Here is another version of that same formula: YOU are in complete control of the outcomes in your life. That truth is often seen as a harsh dose of reality that many people resent hearing.

Let me tell you where I was when I first heard this concept of taking full and complete responsibility for my life. I had just gotten out of a failing business that left me penniless. I was 26 years old, driving down to Tennessee from Philadelphia to start a new job because I had no other prospects at the time. Everything I owned fit into a box in the back seat. I had absolutely no money in savings. ZERO. I had just left a man who was verbally abusive and growing closer to physical abuse every day. I didn’t have a college degree – or even a high school diploma. I had no close friends or family who would help me. All I had was debt and my own stubborn attitude that life was unfair.

But whose fault was all of this? Sure, I could point to a LOT of things in my early life that didn’t exactly set me up for success later on in life that “weren’t my fault.” After all, the business failed because my ex (who was also my business partner) turned into an abusive a-hole…but who picked him? My former employers screwed me out of money. I didn’t have a higher-paying job because my parents never sent me to college – and how could I compete with someone who had that advantage? My parents divorced when I was little, and I was left to be raised by my mother who belonged to a religious cult that drilled into my head all kinds of negative beliefs from an early age. I didn’t have parents or family who could provide even a little bit of financial support. I was homeless as a kid, for chrissakes!

It took me a while to stop bitching and arguing and start thinking.

Each and every time we say “it’s the _____________ ,” we deny our responsibility and allow ourselves to be victimized by our circumstances. Sure, LOTS of crappy, horrific, UNFAIR burdens get dumped on us in life. But it gets dumped on ALL OF US. Life rains on the poor…AND the rich. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, has their own cross to bear – some a hell of a lot heavier than others.

But we all have been given the power and dignity of choice.

PS – After I finally stopped blaming others and second-guessing myself, I’ve never looked back. I started my OWN business. And guess what? There is no glass ceiling when you run your own company. If you think you’re being held back because of some arbitrary “ism,” then quit. There’s LOTS of ways to make money, lots of jobs out there. Go somewhere else where your talents are appreciated. Don’t wait for the government to try and secure your success for you. Believe me, if you’re TRULY exceptional at your job, there are THOUSANDS of businesses that will hire you in a hot second and won’t “hold you back” or disrespect you. It’s a BIG world out there, so don’t continue to tolerate people (or clients) who don’t appreciate you, don’t respect you, won’t pay you or otherwise don’t support you, and then CONTINUE to harbor bitterness and resentment over your lot in life, blaming others.  

Make a better choice.